On the second day of Cathay – Addis a burger

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The Travel chronicles of a sorry Nigerian to Asia.

Chapter Two

It was an uneventful 5hour flight. The first leg of the journey was uneventful. Aside the flurry of food trays and a few miniature bottles of red wine, I spent the time immersed in two movies, each with a runtime of over 2hours.

I enjoyed 30minutes of reading one of the books that I clutched in between my armpit as I boarded the plane earlier that afternoon. The rest of the time was spent either eating, drinking or in a cat nap. Aside that, everything seemed to have happened in a blur.

I didn’t step out of my seat the entire time. It didn’t matter much as I was fine waiting out the flight duration.

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Addis Ababa international airport is not only expansive and clean, the airport officials were quite polite. They weren’t overly deliberate about their politeness though, it had a distant whiff of aloofness.

They were simply just being polite, the barest minimum.

They didn’t make eye contact and they didn’t give anything away about your looks or accent. I could easily discern they were used to seeing lots of Nigerians on that route.

The airport was in sharp contrast to the one in Lagos, well at least the air-condition worked excellently well.

We were glad to walk freely through the immaculately clean and shinny floor tiles and to bask in the bright lights that glistened from one end of the terminal to the other; from the fashion boutiques, wine shops, gift stores  popular fast food joints to not so familiar restaurants.

We didn’t consider taking a seat until an hour later, after all we had just survived a 5hour long flight, who would hurry to sit down?

We had visited the gents, walked one half of the length of the terminal and sauntered like lost kids, while we shared jokes about just anything that caught our fancy.

It hit us quickly that the ladies from Ethiopia that either manned the stores or the restaurants, were distinctively different from their Nigerian counterparts. They weren’t exactly tall, yet they had a unique and similar shape of forehead and size, with noses that mimicked their European counterpart in only one out of every three.

They were pretty in a different way. Small lips, protruding rabbit teeth, small physique yet with an endearing and outgoing personality. They had to be; that was what they were trained to do.

The ladies were also dressed decently; they didn’t show a lot of skin, if any at all. They wore a shinny smile of their faces and spoke in English that was devoid of our rich and familiar Nigerian accent.

I found that strangely intriguing.

They were friendly too, at least when we engaged one of the waitresses in banter, she responded in kind.

You could tell that they knew instantly that we were Nigerians, just like thousands of us that had probably  trodden that same airport in the recent past.

I wonder if they could tell that we were not disciples of the “Japa” dynasty.

We were only travelers in-transit.

One seemingly innocuous smile, a conversation later with one of the delectable waitresses at this restaurant, we were lured to seat at a corner table.

I latched on quickly to the wall socket just by the chair I sat, to have my almost depleted phone battery recharged, while we took turns to make phone calls to our folks back home.

Thankfully the socket matched my phone charger’s. 

It was on that table that we had our first local Ethiopian beer- Bedele special. That’s what it’s called. I hadn’t tasted beer in 2years, but the occasion called for it. The beer was ushered into our bowels by a mouthful of the tastiest burger and French fries I had enjoyed in sometime. It tasted different and reminded me of the ones I had in the United Kingdom during my previous sojourn years earlier.

For a moment, I wondered why the Nigerian burger tasted differently. I quickly dismissed the thoughts. Nothing in Nigeria followed the norm!

We spent most of the early hours at that same table, between calls, chatting with the waitresses, answering nature calls and just replying chats on the phone.

Time flew like it had wings and soon, the next phase of our journey was just about to start.

I looked forward to the flight, yet I wasn’t looking forward to it.

It would be the longest 11hour flight I had ever taken in my entire life.

Eleven hours!!

It was at that moment I was reminded of my fear for closed spaces.

I was claustrophobic and didn’t do quite well in tight spaces. I tried to calm my frayed nerves so I didn’t spook anyone on the plane.

Eleven hours!

When we approached the airplane, I noticed it was an airbus; the biggest I had seen.

It reminded me of a character in one of the  cartoons that we used to regale in during my pre-teens called “Jumbo”

Then we boarded the plane.

I kid you not, dear readers, those 11 hours were no joke!

You would sleep some and wake up in the near-darkness.

You would turn, slide, try to slouch, and then realize that you were stuck for the next few hours.

My best advice; don’t look at your watch. Time is not loyal! It’s an effort in futility.

I watched movies that I had downloaded from Netflix before I left Lagos  until I got tired of the phone screen and its flickering lights.

I slept for an hour or two but I wasn’t quite comfortable. Not enough to enjoy the sleep.

And the food came again in torrents. This time, I didn’t quite find them appealing. The discomfort of being in one place for hours, eclipsed the need to eat.

The passengers on the plane were now predominantly Asians and a sprinkle of blacks, predominantly Nigerian.

You could tell from the way they were dressed, the shoes and the looks, so that when you heard them speak, you would feel like a smart Sherlock.

I bet they felt the same about me too – the blacks. I couldn’t help but check out my shoes in awe.

Did I give anything away?

Passengers queued to use the toilets. There was no way you’d eat that much, without expecting a visit to preside over nothingness on the white throne.

The low hum of the plane went on for 11 hours before the the hostess asked us to remove the window hoods when the plane was starting its descent.

Night had turn to morning and we were now precisely in a time zone 7hours from the folks we left behind in Lagos.

Somewhere during that flight, we had time traveled. Streaks of sunlight flashed into the airplane, bathing it in hues of silver as “jumbo” approached the runway in Beijing in measured strides, easing itself into the earth as the 22hour journey finally ended.

Let’s talk about the Beijing Airport in the next chapter.

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4 thoughts on “On the second day of Cathay – Addis a burger”

  1. Pingback: On the first day of Cathay – Naija & drama – Akin Akingbogun

  2. Ibilola Famugbode

    It’s seems Addis Ababa has upgraded their airport Since the last time I visited.Then, it was just like our Murtala Mohammed airports only with worse toilets. Fortunately for them, Ethiopian Airlines painted their country in a much better light. Their services are World Class!

  3. I think you gave justice to the description of the ordeal of a 22hour journey above sea level. I do not envy such a trip.

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