In the 2nd quarter of the year (2018), I had to relocate to Northern Nigeria from the west, for the compulsory NYSC Scheme. Due to insecurity in the northeastern region, I decided to travel by air; so I booked my flight.
On schedule, we departed the MM Airport Lagos and had a stopover at the Abuja Int’l airport where we waited two hours instead of the usual thirty minutes to continue our journey to Yola, Adamawa state. At long last, we took off again! After about forty-five minutes in the air, the plane began its descent into Yola Int’l airport.
The sun blazed its rays like beams through the thick-paneled window of the airplane, pierced my eyes without apology. I felt its impact really hard because I took the window seat.
What a brutal harsh grand welcome it was for me; one that triggered alarm bells in my head, warning me of an unfavorable weather during my stay.
As I disembarked from the plane, it felt like I stepped right into the sun. Was it the same sun that shined in Lagos where I came from? I wondered. I shut my eyes for a few seconds, then gingerly opened them to slits in order to get accustomed to the harsh rays that threatened to blind me.
Interestingly, my eyes weren’t the only part affected. I was hot! I was literally hot; like I was on fire!! I didn’t need someone to tell me to take off the hooded sweater I had on in the plane.
But guess what?….the moment I did, I felt the sun on a whole new level. My skin burned! Thank God I keep a full hair, otherwise, the sun would most likely have taught my poor scalp a lesson not to be forgotten in a hurry. LOL.
For the first three weeks; I constantly battled dehydration, consuming more than 7 liters of water daily (without stress o) as opposed to the 3-4 liters I struggled with back in Lagos. The irony of this was fascinating, because I realized the more I drank, the less I urinated.
Where did all that water go? If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I had a health challenge. It was crazy!!! Not only was my urine output decreased, it was always super concentrated (very deep shade of yellow/orange).
As the weeks slowly became months, I also slowly acclimatized to the weather and environment as a whole.
Speaking of weather, I am again reminded of the very unique rainfall pattern here and the timing of sunrise and sunset.
The rainy season doesn’t begin with just rainfall proceeded by dark clouds and wind. NO! Series of SANDSTORMS herald the arrival of the rain.
It begins with wind so fierce that it can sweep a 60kg adult off his feet; fling items out of cars, houses and even your hands! Using an umbrella is absolutely useless, in fact, ill advised well…as a shield from the sun, okay; but for the sandstorm? It’s a NO – NO!!
The storm blows in one direction or in circular motion, with such force that it lifts all the dust, sand and debris off the ground and scatters them in all directions including your eyes, nose and through your tightly sealed lips.
Yes! The monstrous storm has a way of getting past all your defenses.
By the time the storm calms, you definitely would be looking like ‘sandman’ – the sand version of you, up to your hair strands and eyebrows. LOL
If you happen to be a ‘white fowl’ at the time (NYSC members can relate), your white becomes ‘I-was-white-now-I-am-brown’. So just find your way to the nearest bathroom for a thorough scrub in the shower (That is if you can see past the sand and grit in your eyes). Friends, it’s real over here.
I mentioned sunrise and sunset earlier. Here, the sun rises as early as 5:30am(0530hrs) and begins to set as late as 6:30pm(1800hrs). As opposed to 7:00am(0700hrs) to 4:00pm(1600hrs) for sunrise and sunset respectively, in Lagos and most other parts of the country.
So, you slowly wake from your dream, stretch, then steal a peek out the window from underneath your eyelashes, and …. Oh my gosh! You exclaim. “The day has broken and I’m still in bed. Oh no! What time is it?” Then you cheek your watch – 5:50am(0550hrs). Deep sighs!!! And its back to dreamland for a little longer #Smiles#
In summary, it has been a weird, bizarre and off-kilter, but altogether interesting experience in Yola, Adamawa state, Nigeria.
©Ekene Balmybreeze Okeke (2018)