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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Friday, June 29, 2007

A Never Ending Journey

Its 4.53am at Denver airport, l am sitting on the floor, legs outstretched, typing furiously away. All around me there are snoring people of different nationalities covered in standard issue airport blankets and lying on camp beds, chairs and the floor. We all blur into a mass of unremarkable humanity except that if you look closely, l am wearing diamond studs and Chanel flats. What kind of homeless bag lady wears diamonds and Chanel? Well it's a long story.

2days ago l sat on my bed at 6am and watched the shrimp get ready for school, my standard red hard box travel box is packed and she keeps glancing at it suspiciously but perhaps unwilling to know the truth refrained from asking the obvious question. I did not know if l should say goodbye to her, as l had no idea at that moment if l was going to make the Virgin flight, l had no ticket you see. We both kept our peace and she left for school. I said a quiet prayer and chant and l left for the airport. That was when the drama began, because of the strike and the closure of banks and other personal drama l won’t bother you with, l had not been able to buy a ticket for the ACT II convocation on ethical values driven leadership l was billed to attend in Aspen Colorado.

It so happens that l did get a ticket at the airport that morning and had a good flight on board Virgin (addicted to the brand). I flew with Chris Ngige, Kanu Nwankwo, Asari Dokubo's cousin Princewill, Saheeto and Julius Agwu who insists on French kissing (no tongue) me every time we meet. With such an eclectic collection of travel companions, the conversation on board was illuminating but a story for another day. I spent the night in London and was at the airport by 6.30am for my uneventful flight to New York flight.

I arrived New York at noon and swapped my UK SIM for the American one (l no dey roam) praying that l would still have credit (minutes to Americans and airtime to South Africans) to call a friend who was supposed to have got me a flight to Denver and Aspen. He says l might be able to get on an American Airlines flight to Denver so l dash and caught a train to the right terminal only to be told that l won't make it through security on time. My friend buys another ticket online and l dash between terminals to get a boarding pass only to be told that flight had been cancelled. A few more frantic calls and l get my flight switched to a later one. In all of this my credit runs out and of course this is post 9/11 America so you cant just buy credit anywhere or get a new phone without plenty forms an registration. In London and Lagos, you can buy from the corner shop or traffic. So my benefactor buys some online and texts it to me but l had forgotten how to load it and had no credit to call him back so l am confronted with another annoying American habit. Nobody has the information you need unless you go through some complex officialdom just to credit a bloody phone! Finally did it through customer service. By now, l’d been travelling for 36 hours and was exhausted. Before l left home, l had suffered some weird food allergy and my face is a war zone of spots and acne so l am trying to eat healthy, in America? As l looked around at all the fast food, greasy food, dead food and sweet over processed food on offer l decided to go to the Virgin lounge. Another dash across terminals and l am in this glorified school canteen that is the virgin lounge in New York! It does not bear any resemblance to the virgin clubhouse at Heathrow and is even worse than the one in Lagos. The world weary waitress informs me only the bites are ready at that time and after l had the bland chicken noodle soup and pathetic bread roll which she insist must be called dinner roll (no granary or whole wheat here o) l left and proceeded to a restaurant were l ordered a huge fry up, with carrot cake and cookies, fuck the breakout, l need comfort food and might as well resign myself to the fact that l shall systematically poison my system with bad food whilst here as usual. At 7pm, l dashed across terminals to board my flight only to be told it had been delayed due to bad weather. 3 hours later, they board us and 2 and half hours after that the plane finally took off by which time it was 1am, l had been at that airport for almost 13 hours. There goes my hotel reservation and payment for a hotel in Denver as we arrived at 4am and l slump on the floor with the other weary, stranded and in transit travellers.

That was earlier today. After 48 hours, travelling l finally arrived Aspen at 9am and had only enough time for a quick shower and change of clothes before proceeding to the conference building. The day had been very eventful but that is yet another story. Aspen is a balm to my badly frayed nerves and my suite at the gorgeous Aspen Meadows is fantastic with the huge windows in my bedroom offering an incredible view of the mountains. America may be one of my least favourite places to visit these days what with the paranoia and non-visitor friendly facilities but Aspen soothes my spirits and the intellectual discourse of the next few days will nourish my soul. If only l could do something about the craters on my face, this even as l tuck into my third desert today, a most divine chocolate mousse.


Ms. O said...

Hello Funmi, I recently started reading your blog but never left a comment before now...I really enjoy reading your blog and your dff opinions about the issues Nigeria faces...glad to know that u finally made it safely to Aspen...Hope u r enjoying ur trip there and also the conference...how long will u be in the states for? Are u visiting other cities after the conference? Anyways, keep doing ur thing..u ROCK!!

Caleb said...

A nice post yet again, Funmi. I've been looking out for you to say something about the Dare to be Different National Interactive Youth Forum, but you havent said anything about it...wasnt there anything worth talking about, I believe there was, I was there at the conference and it was great, so pls go ahead and tell the others what it was all about

Sherri said...

Hey girl,
just soak in the tranquility! hydrate well well o ...hehe

take care,

Omolola said...

Abeg do you need an assitant to travel with u,i fit carry ur gucci bag for you,no wahala.lolll
Glad you made it to aspen safely.love the virgin brand as well.i think virgin airline thumps BA anyday.Take care now and have a safe trip back home

catwalq said...

welcome to town,
let us know what we can do to make ur stay pleasant.

advice said...

Hi Funmi

I love your blog- especially your satirical slant. Of course it's 2007 & there is freedom of speech, so I'll tell you like it is:

Dropping all those names( ok so we know you flew business class) and talking about chanel & diamonds is so totally unnecc! We really need to stop the trying to keep up with the Joneses. I fly business class too and I have quite a number of 'designer bags-3 chanel, 6 Jimmy Choo, 2 Luella, 2 Chloe............ do you see how silly I sound!!!!

pam said...

Na wa oh! I read that Americans are now frantically trying to find ways to get visitors back. They commissioned (not sure who) a poll and travellers voted visiting America in the past few years an extremely hostile unpleasant experience. Of course now even with the weak dollar plenty cash is being lost. GOOD! In the name of all you revere STAY AWAY FROM THE BREAKOUT FOOD.... You got work to do woman and dont expect even a smigden of sympathy from moi

jjc girl said...

If I may get personal (just you try and stop me, my frankness - tactlessness? - is legendary); you are model girl slim and with apparently gorgeous skin, so what is all this about gorging on food and breaking out? Ah beg, share your secret with those of us who only have to look at a slice of chocolate cake and immediately bloat...
With regards to travel weariness, does anyone out there still find international air travel glamorous?
Totally agree with you that the US is highly overrated as a destination.

Anonymous said...

@ advice I don't think that was her point(name dropping).How does she tell HER story without including the characters and things involved? The things she mentions are all in context.

Oh and Virgin doesn't have business class per say, it's Upper class.

Lola said...

hmm........lawling (you'll get it) as i read this post and comments. somewhere in between priviledged nigerians complaining about international travel which is seen as a great luxury to many, peppered with talks of swapping SIM Cards (cross country), staying at havens such as Aspen Meadows, or flying Virgin first class AND actually understanding where you're coming from! i guess it's just one of those things.

Me, i lived in america so to me, it's not the pays horrible that europe toting nigerians think it is. they can be a little difficult though but there's nothing like the good ol' US of A.

Jumi said...

There you go, again! Doing your thing and doing it well too! Hey, babe, don't you dare run off on the shrimp like that again or the wolves will be called out. You could have just said something to her, sweetie, even if it turns out you could not make your flight, I'm sure she will understand. Have fun in Aspen. Any updates on Canada? So ara e o!

deilah said...

@Advice, when i read that line, i thought maybe it had some figurative/ indepth meaning i peharps was too slow to grasp, it sure did sound a bit tacky, like she was trying too hard to impress (i wonder who). Also Adv be braver next time and sign in with your real blogger Id, that way it wouldn't smack too much of jealousy on your part.

Ms Iyanda please why were you in my dreams?
@Jjc are you Fat? Cos some of us are realy born that way.

Funmi Iyanda said...

@ ms. o, thanks.

@caleb, l tend to internalize before writing on issues l feel deeply about. the event was an eye opener for me, l am still processing my feelings and thought on it and will let you know.

@ catwalq, will be great to meet you, sending you an email on those interviews by tommorrow.

@advice, when l was going to put the chanel (5year old flats), and diamonds (tiny studs) bit in , l hesitated concerned about misinterpretation. i went ahead because it fits the context of the monologue and reduces the need for words. By now, l'd hoped it would be clear that l have no attachment nor am l defined by material things, l am as comfortable in my self bought on sale designer items as l am in second hand pieces from yaba market (yes l have them). l am sick and tired of apologizing to people for being slim, tall, fair, non poor, famousish and the rest of the blasted shebang that people consider to be enviable. The story l told is of my own reality, it hasnt always been so, l have earned every bit of it and am thankful for the bits that the universe has bestowed upon me. You must ask yourself deep questions as to why you need to tell me that you have those things too. Those little telling bits of my life are not mentioned to get validation or appreciation, they are just that, telling bits and more bits than telling.

@ Pam, you know l have no discipline with fabulous food and sinful deserts. We both know my system will purnish me fo the excess but by gosh l will deserve that purnishment and yes yes, l will start writing about food someday soon.

@jjc, my sista, l know it is hard to believe and l will have trouble beliving it too were it not my own situation but l am one of those friggin bitches who just do not put on weight easy, my metabolism is super fast and l come from generations of very slim usually tall people. yeah l,d hate me too. Ask pam and remi lagos. l however think most women are hard on themselves and extreme thinness especially post 30 is unattractive. Most 9ja women l know and see on the street are gorgeous and my fuller gal friends get more male interest per encounter than myself. l do exercise now to keep things tight. Wish l could help more, as l said the gals dont believe me so maybe l should invent some exotic weight loss program and write a book, make a fitness video and earn oodles of money ;), as per skin, drink gallons of water, get a good make up artist.

Iyaeto said...

Enjoy your stay in Aspen . Try and go mountain climbing or abseiling!

advice said...

Hi Funmi

U mis underunderstand me- The items I listed were justr an example- I actually do not own them in that proportion. I just think that the mention of trivial material things! detract from the rest of the good work on your blog! Yes, you have been blessed- famousish as you put it. I could also shout from the rooftops about what I have- and I have been mega blessed, but really does that change the state Nigeria is in today? And more importantly , will I take all my chanel with me to the other side..... I think not!

Telling bits you said.... please tell us more important bits!


Funmi Iyanda said...

@ iyaeto, emi? mountain ke, l am donning my shortest shorts and darkest sunglasses and taking a genteel stroll through town intent on gastronomic excess. maybe l,ll take the cable car up the mountain. Waiting for my pal jide to get fit enough for us to go climb kilimanjaro.

Anonymous said...

Hey funmi, I'm glad you are having a good time and not limiting yourself by any standard, unlike most nigerians who don't classify tourism as enjoyment. Most of the time when Nigerians travel, they hardly take time out to take in the view, hike, or visit historic sites, rather, they are only interested in taking pictures, eating food and shopping.
Having said that, Funmi, I must say that you got some balls. The way you write about your experiences is just amazing like your not even scared of armed robbers viewing you as a target or something like that. Anyway, God forbid; it will never be your portion.

Greys anatomy fan said...

thanks for keeping it real!!! and do stay that way!...theres ABSOLUTLY wrong in every tiny or mega bits u added in ur story...how would u let fans like me catch every imagination possible....besides great writers and authors gives ardent readers like me evry nitty gritty detail to get a feel!...so @ advice...ur piece was not neccessary....ATALL...if u dont like pple expressing thereselves..tough...

U ROCK!! funmi

Funmi Iyanda said...

@advice, l share your concerns but the point is that you are preaching to the long term convert. l write from a raw true spirit period.

@anonymous, Thanks but what part of all this is robbery worthy? l choose not to live in fear, also, my travel is part of my work and not a luxury. You'll be suprised what you can afford if you deny yourself of other things. Besides the true story of l pull off my travel, my interventions, my poor paying work is the story for a book l must write some day.
@greys anatomy fan, hey thanks btw what do you think of Isiah's travails?

Anonymous said...

Hey funmi, Yes o. I do agree with some of the points you raised in your response to advise. There is absolutely no need to be apologetic for your figure. Be proud of who you are and always represent yourself well. I used to be in a similar situation years ago when i lived in Nigeria. People where always dissing me because of my slim figure. They would call me lepa, igi, and other very derogatory and disrespectful words. I guess it was all my fault because I never defended myself from such harmful words. I was very naive, gullible and ignorant. Today, I live in a society that appreciates and idolizes good health and I'm very proud of myself. I have also learnt to stop apologizing for my appearance but to support, enhance, appreciate and be grateful to God for his gift to me.

jjc girl said...

@ funmi - i admire your ability to just tell it like it is without weighing every word and worrying about what people will think. DONT EVER CHANGE. as for me, am already worried that because am in an internet cafe abroad - oops, does that count as "showing off" - my lack of familiarity with the keyboard is going to make me look grammatically incorrect. pathetic, innit?
@deilah - not really fat o, just average sized, i must confess

gilmoregirl said...

Really like you gan, the way you handled 'advice' you have a lot of depth.

Pele on your hustle to get to aspen, now i have a new place to visit. I am starting with Ghana in September would keep you posted.

cleo.kelvin said...

well thank god u are back and survived de stress wel next time tell her de truth dont let her find out elsewhere or de hard way u know welcome back by now