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Dunni Obata: The Holiday From Hell

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I think I have Isio Wanogho to thank for this. It has been a tradition of mine to up sticks and go somewhere warm for my birthday which is smack in the middle of winter. Last year, I was dragging my feet about it, until I saw pictures from Isio’s holiday to Mauritius and I was re-invigorated. I always have a 3, max 4 hour flight frame for short holidays. No point sitting on a plane for upwards of 9 hours, only to spend a week. I might as well go to Lagos. After scouring the map of the Middle East and North Africa (the only options that had decent weather outside of the warm European countries I have already visited)

Jordan, Oman and Morocco came out on top. Immediately, we chose Jordan but their visa conditions for Nigerians, Chineke, you would think it would get me free pass to see the King of Jordan. Oman’s consulate’s website may as well have been written in Chinese, for all the information it offered, so I chose Morocco because their visa conditions were a breeze. Marrakech to be precise. I was so excited for my trip, not knowing it was going to be the holiday from hell. How so? I’ll give you a little background story.

The term African time was invented because of me. I am notoriously late. This time I told myself I would leave the house early, I had a plan mapped out to raid the Mac stand (I had Ruby Woo on my mind) and perfume shops.

I am a nervous flyer you see and it doesn’t help that I always get to my flight late, by the time I get to my seat, I am already frazzled with my nerves shot to hell. With no time to compose myself, we take off (my absolutely worst time of a flight) and the entire flying experience goes downhill from there. Once I land, I thank The Lord in 7 languages (wait, I speak only 2) and congratulate myself for surviving the worst flight ever. I wonder what will happen when I do face the worst flight ever. Maybe I will finally get to be on CNN, but it will be as a Nigerian woman who went berserk on flight.

Anyway, I told myself this time all that won’t happen. I was meeting someone there who was flying in from another continent, I had envisaged myself all smiley, cool, calm and collected and not the tired, uncommunicative grouchy Dunni. I would get to the airport early and mentally prepare myself for flying. Alas, the holiday gods were having a laugh on my behalf.

I drove to the prepaid airport parking area, dropped the car keys and hopped on the shuttle bus to the airport. During the drive, I checked my ticket to congratulate myself for being early. When I opened the page, I swear my heart stopped. It must have, because it felt like an out of body experience, and I could see myself in some alternate reality screaming. I was going to the WRONG AIRPORT. You know how you try to convince yourself that the words on the paper just can’t be true. How in the world did I not realise that I was taking off from Stansted airport.

Why and how did I buy a ticket taking off and landing at 2 different airports? I was asking myself questions faster than my brain could process. It got worse; I had less than 2 hours to my flight and I was heading to an airport in the opposite direction. That shuttle ride felt like the longest drive of my life. I kept checking my phone with shaky hands (by this time, my entire body was trembling) for the route to get to Stansted. The train route had like 3 changes and knowing Transport For London, I wasn’t sure I would make it, plus I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t get lost in the maze of the underground trying to find the next train. Okay, I will drive there, oops wait, I just parked my car. Alright, I would rent a car, after all it is just a 1 hour 25 minutes drive, it shouldn’t cost that much. Oh dear, when I got to the car rental place, the price gave me a migraine. It was going to cost me double the price to rent a car (because I was dropping it off at a separate location) than airport parking for 7 days. Okay, should I just buy another ticket taking off from Gatwick?

The next flight was the day after, at 8.30pm plus it was even more expensive than renting a car. By then all my systems just shut off and I mumbled through signing the documents. The guy over the counter said you look like you’ve just got some bad news, are you sure you are okay to drive, coffee or anything, or just sit down and relax. I told him sorry, I am at the wrong airport, my flight takes off at 12pm, this was 10.05am. I got the keys and drove like a bat out of hell. It didn’t help that the route to Stansted airport was right past my neighbourhood. I actually screamed in pain. 20 minutes into the journey, the curse of the M25 came alive. A bus had broken down on my route. Just my luck. If I was the type of person who cried easily, I would have been bawling majorly. I just sat there telling myself – ‘How? Me the master planner’. I plan vacations for friends as a hobby, I am known as the travel agent. Visa, holiday destinations, hotels, just ask me. How on earth did this happen? A 10-minute drive took almost 40 minutes. I finally got past the stupid bus and drove at 90 (er the speed limit is 70). I just kept praying some police car would not stop me otherwise, you would have seen me on TV going through a high speed car chase.

Finally I got to Gatwick and the stupid SatNav took me to the wrong part of the airport. In fairness to it, the guy at the counter told me to ignore the SatNav, look out for the signs for rental car drop off and follow it. By then, my memory had wiped off and I just sat there, this time willing myself to cry. I was finally at the airport and I didn’t know where to drop the car. Besides I was trapped in a parking lot that needed me to walk like 10 minutes to go pay for parking. At that point, I just gave up, only to see the parking attendants patrolling the lot. I explained myself and they turned off the barrier to let me pass. Phew!

5 more minutes of driving, I got to the drop off desk, and the guy said ‘Oh wait madam you have to let us check the car’. I told him to get lost. I have signed off the forms, nothing happened to the car, besides you guys took a deposit from me. I ran with my luggage through departures, jumped the queue like the Nigerian that I am, apologised profusely that my flight was at 12pm.

Luckily they let me pass and I was praying fervently, hoping I did not forget any liquid items in my luggage or I’d truly be screwed. I went through security, found my gate on the board and it was already flashing Final Call. Just my luck, I needed the underground transit to get to my gate. It left just as I was getting there, the next one was in 2 minutes. By this time I was praying in Yoruba, English and a little Igbo. I was finally here, the devil is a liar.

There were also 2 other men on the same flight. They were like guardian angels. They ran ahead of me, and it was only due to them running faster than my tired legs, that I made it because the woman at the desk was already closing the gate. I kept screaming ‘I am also going to Marrakech, I am also going to Marrakech’. Then she saw my Nigerian passport and was looking at it like it was the plague. I was in no mood to be polite, at least I was already there, they can’t take off without me. She saw the Moroccan visa and finally let me through. As the last person on board, they shut the aircraft doors. We took off before I could even stop hyperventilating.

You would have thought they were handing out money at Marrakech airport and suddenly the whole world chose that weekend to travel. I found out later that the Marrakech International Film festival was holding that weekend, and many huge names from Hollywood were present. Ah that explains it. NOT.

Being stuck in a hotel, 5 Star or not, is so not fun. After racking up a huge room service bill, the Ijebu in me started doing the math. By Day 3, virtually abandoned and fuming, I was ready to go home. One last effort to at least see the place, before I bought a one way ticket home. I hopped on all those red tour buses and was cursing everything and anything that I wouldn’t get to explore this fabulous cultural city, not knowing that the mischievous holiday gods had finally gotten off my case. I met these two beautiful Somali girls, Sucaad and Busharat from London. Almost immediately we got talking, I told them my predicament and they said, don’t go home, come hang with us.

At this point my paranoid radar had surprisingly shut off, and I agreed. I did not know these girls from Adam, but thanks to them, my holiday was saved and I had an amazing time. Plus I made new friends, hopefully for life. Here I thought being stuck in Prague because of that Icelandic Volcano “Eyitfiyatlajokululu” and spending 23 hours on a bus back to London was my worst holiday experience ever. This one takes the cake.

Thankfully, the sun shone bright at the end of the tunnel, and I can look back and laugh. I will be sharing my pictures from Marrakech in another post.

What has been your worst holiday experience? Please share and lets have a laugh together.

I'm an IT Project Manager by day and a cook the rest of the time. I love entertaining, and one of my bad habits is feeding people, so guests beware. When I'm not cooking, I'm watching Food Network, American TV series and National Geographic in that order. When I want peace and quiet, I curl up on the sofa and read a good book I'm very passionate about Nigerian food. I believe our food has a lot to offer globally, and with the right exposure, it can stand proud alongside food from other cultures. I'm hoping to get us all fired up and talking about Nigerian cooking irrespective of whatever part of the world you live in. Welcome to Dooney's Kitchen

42 Comments

  1. nene

    April 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    connecting flights. i loathe them. the few times i’ve had a connecting flight, i’ve lost my luggage or i just go crazy because i’m always late and i miss my flight. so i never take connecting flights. i buy separate tickets for each leg of the journey and i like to rest for at least one day before i continue. i could never fly more than 8 hours to any country. i have to break it somewhere and pick up my journey from there. it costs more, but it’s less stressful for me.

  2. Jane

    April 4, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    You are CRAZY! What?! You only found out your departure airport…on your way to the wrong airport???? And you booked your ticket yourself??? No words….

  3. Bota

    April 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    hahaha! hmmm is all i ca say. i would have cried and turned back home. good ur resilience came into play.

  4. Strawberrycandy

    April 4, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    LOL pele. Good to know everything turned out great.
    I love to travel myself…how would you rate Morocco?

  5. Anon

    April 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I don’t know if it’s just me but as I get older my memory is waning. I used to have an impeccable memory but not so anymore. Now, I write down a lot of things, use my phone calendars with sound reminders and notes. Those things are there for a reason and have helped me immensely. However, when it comes to travelling, I start planning a week before. Imagine going to out of the way Stansted, driving the length and breadth of the M25 only to find out it’s Gatwick! Two airports I don’t like. Heathrow please and for European destinations, sometimes Luton Parkway.
    You still need to go to Jordan and Petra is a must see. It’s cheap and the food is sweet. However, get ready for the airport, if you think MOMI is bad, Queen Noor (now Queen Alia) is the dirtiest I’ve ever been to. I remember Eyitfiyatlajokululu. I was stuck in Lagos for two weeks.

  6. aseye1

    April 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    I dont see the HELL in this story. ……… you were almost late for your flight…. and stuck in hotel for a number of days. why? what is hellish about it?

    • Uby

      April 4, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      !!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tru

      April 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      ??? Surely you jest

  7. aseye1

    April 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    ok now we know you went to Morocco. welcome back. hope you enjoyed urself.

    • Nonnienie

      April 4, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      You need Jesus, You need Joy!

    • Duke

      April 4, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      GBAM!

    • AW

      April 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Is this an attempt at sarcasm or you truly wish her well?

    • Anne

      April 4, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      @ aseye1, eeya inferiority complex. Don’t worry one day u’ll have holiday stories to share.

    • Dunni Obata

      April 4, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Aaaaw, big hugs dear. Going to Tunisia next, would you like to come along.

    • Tru

      April 4, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      LOLOLOLLLLLLLLLL!!!! Brilliant response. Gurl, I like you

    • MsBlossom

      June 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

      I love to travel too, been to the UAE , now I have been contemplating another trip , but don’t know which country to visit. I want a destination that’s less stressful and also economical *winks* I should join u to TUNISIA

  8. Wale

    April 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I couldn’t get to the second paragraph. Need a rewrite. Go straight to the point on why it was the vacay from hell, I am sure there is an interesting story there, but too much driveling.

    • slice

      April 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      haha but that’s the point now. to hear the gist well well. Guys sef and all their go straight to the point talk (i know i know some guys are difft).
      Me i liked the gist sha. totally ate it up.

  9. deb

    April 4, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I never read long stories on BN unless the look informative. The HELL in the heading made me read this article and it was a waste of time.

  10. @edDREAMZ

    April 4, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    So people actually read this long write up… The writer can really write…..
    .
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  11. Queen Esther

    April 4, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Lol. Pele Dunni. Next time, I suggest you take a critical look at your ticket and most importantly, plan way ahead. Great writeup as usual. You got me smiling throughout

  12. Thatgidigirl

    April 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I swear Wale! Reminds me of an essay from school way back, “how i spent my christmas holiday”….no shade intended.

  13. Olori

    April 4, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    hmmm…The absolute worst holiday experience I ever had was the bladdy reception at the Passport Control desk at Istanbul. The officials took it upon themselves to embarrass and humiliate every Nigerian on my flight. In Turkey, presenting a Nigerian passport surely means you are carrying drugs. AWFUL! That pretty much ruined my outlook for the short trip. Couldn’t wait to be out of there. You can read all about it here sayolori.wordpress.com/

  14. Me

    April 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    lol! I enjoyed your story! It seemed as if i was the one going through the experience! When you finally boarded, i think, seriously, i felt very tired from all the ‘running’! You’re a good storyteller, though maybe the title was a bit off because after getting off the plane, i thought the vacation was going to go downhill from there so i had started preparing myself for the next phase of the adventure! Kinda left me hanging! Nonetheless, it was a good story.

  15. Que.....glad to have my avatar back!

    April 4, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Dunni I didnt quite get how d film festival n ur being stuck in d room related…

    Mine isnt so hellish, but a complete irritation 4 me is having pple rip u off on holiday, for that u can give d crown to Roman cabbies… In Rome (the European Lagos) had a few experiences, but d last one broke d camel’s back 4 me, I guess I added all d oda ones up too…I had booked a car hire to d airport, to catch a flight 4 Venice….I had used them on my arrival so it was easy to feel they had sense only on d road 4 d guy to start quoting diff price than what was on their brochure…..I didnt even answer him, believing I had d exact amt, till I reachd d airport n realised I had just large euro bills…..long story short he cut a chunk of my money, while I cursed d life out of him b4 being calmd by my bf to go catch my flight…it took d view frm my hotel rm in Venice to ease d rage I carried thru dat flight.. oloshi pple… I hear d Istanbul cabbies are similar… they can just totally dull an otherwise lovely experience…

    Speaking of ripping off-add to that fake ‘tea festival’ purveyors in Shanghai… make u buy tea of bout 5pound 4 bout 50….long story-…just stay away!

    • Que.....glad to have my avatar back!

      April 4, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      O I forgot to say, sorry bout ur experience, i can relate to that kind of instant blankness dat such realisations can cause….i wish it on only evil pple (chuckles). glad it wasn’t all hellish though….pele…

  16. Anne

    April 4, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    The last time I came to naija from Aberdeen, I used Air France and of course had to wait at the Airport in France for some extra hours. Anyways after going through security and the endless cues, lo and behold I discovered that I had left my hand luggage on the other side. In my annoyed state I started pleading with the stupid French airport officials to help me pick up my bag which I could see, to no avail. I had to go back, join the cue again and go through the whole process of removing my shoes and belt etc. It took the grace of God and my old age for me to not start bawling like a baby.

  17. Anne

    April 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    ‘Queue’ sorry!

  18. Isi 1

    April 4, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Nice write-up! felt the emotions with my heart beating hoping you eventually made the journey. Thank God your holdiay ended on a good note.

  19. Soapy

    April 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Dooney, did you also go with Terry adido on this trip? I notice u say u were mtg up with someone flying in from another continent. Terry dey canada. U still never gist us full deets on una romantic Paris trip o! Come sef, u no go marry? Enuf waka waka with these guys na! Terry Berra shape up quick, else I’m coming to box him. :D. Love, big cousin

  20. ogo

    April 4, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I enjoyed it ,biko!! kinda reminded me of the Atoke style of writing stories in the past!nice one ,dear

  21. Sarah

    April 4, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    ” Then she saw my Nigerian passport and was looking at it like it was the plague.”, this really got me laughing out loud at work.

  22. Alero Mii

    April 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Interesting read

  23. Narnia

    April 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I’m just here laughing. Good u never gave up….me I would have jeje accepted my fate, gone to pick up my car and headed home!!
    I can’t drive when I’m not settled! Ko possible mehn! Il have accident!

  24. Tru

    April 4, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I really don’t get the complaints about the length of the story. I found it interesting, fun and humorous. Besides, the essence of a blog is to upload write-ups for READING, right? #confused

  25. dami

    April 4, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Dooney I love you but this write up more…

  26. D

    April 4, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Chai!!! see my people. We see people with travel blogs all the time and never this black lash. People detailing their travel experiences and here see the level of hating and we constantly speak of moving forward …No our narrowmindedness will never let that happen…Lord of mercy. Sorry Dunni… I can’t even comment on the write up

  27. pynk

    April 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    The writer is simply scattered. If you know you are forgetful check ur ticket several times before departure abeg.

  28. Stephanie

    April 5, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Quite long, didn’t finish it
    blogsvila.blogspot.com

  29. meldibson

    April 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I smiled reading some parts of your story but Girl, You made your Holiday looked like HELL by driving to the wrong airport, not checking your journey in the first place. Glad that you fin

  30. H

    April 22, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    D babes WHAT you went through all that, that is a total meltdown, Tunisia here we come, and for the haters, and their silly remarks, D helped me out with my Marrakech visit…….

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