It was Summer time in the US, the prestigious BET Awards was coming up in Los Angeles, and I had an invitation to attend together with one of my clients from South Africa: Samantha Jansen who was a model and actor.
We were quite excited and we started planning our outfits and how to steal the show on the red carpet. Samantha had a crush on Drake and reminded me that we must meet with him during the trip.
It was time to buy the tickets and Samantha reached out to me saying she had a few challenges and she will need me to buy her ticket which she will refund while we are in the states. I obliged, the D day came, I got to the airport a few minutes late as usual and I missed my flight (tears, pain, disappointment) I had to get on the next available flight later that night which had a stopover in Paris and the ticket cost me a fortune. If you know me well, you will understand how painful it was for me as I do not like to spend my money when it can be avoided “this trip had better be worth it, at least a date with Idris Elba after the awards will be a good consolation.; I thought to myself.
I boarded the flight by 10pm, seating next to me was a Caucasian in his mid-thirties who just wouldn’t shut up; I ignored him throughout the flight to Paris and prayed to God that he is not on my continuation flight to LA.
A few hours in Paris is always an opportunity for me to practice the little French that I speak so I walked around the airport a bit, tried unsuccessfully to take some nice selfies and then engaged one of the ladies selling at the airport in a conversation. Flight was delayed by 2hours and finally it was time to board: LA here I come!!! I was overly excited, it was my first time in LA.
We arrived and as I was going to immigrations, someone called my name, it was Samantha, she had also just arrived as her flight was slightly delayed. We got out of the airport, took a taxi to our apartment to freshen up quickly and head out for the event. We decided to take a few mins nap before heading out and that is how we slept and woke up the next day due to jetlagg: BET AWARDS WAS OVER. Hmmm, the MTN advert: Everywhere You Go Came to mind that day, my village people are truly everywhere you go, you mean they followed me all the way to LA??????
Anyways, I was determined to not waste my money so I will make the most of this trip, I planned to stay for 2weeks and I decided to create memories every day. So we checked out of that apartment that day and moved into the Marriott hotel for the night, at the point of payment, I realised that I had travelled with my PA’s GTB card in error and I didn’t even have any of my dollar cards on me. Interesting times, I sent her a message informing her that her card was with me and I will transfer money to her and use it around, she obliged but when I submitted my passport at the reception and proceeded to swipe the card, wahallah!, they asked us to wait somewhere and started making long calls…next thing, corps, I mean POLICE…kilonsele bai, I had to fill a number of forms, thumbprint everywhere, ask my PA to send her passport data page with an approval that she is aware that I am using her card. Overall, I was already tired and done with the trip in my head. We stayed only one night at The Marriott and left and rented a luxury apartment in Hollywood where I paid for one week accommodation via online banking. Then it was time to see Hollywood, we ordered an uber and headed out, took some really nice photos, had lunch at a fancy restaurant (this trip isn’t going as badly as I thought you know). We went to Rodeo drive to look around a little, shopped and shopped a bit.
We started reaching out to friends and family in LA…there was a pool party here and there, we joined the Black Lives Matter movement as well and life was going well. MY elder brother reached out to me from Washington and asked why I hadn’t come home yet “uncle America is the land of opportunities, I didn’t travel almost 20hours to do family dinner and go back to Nigeria” I thought to myself but I promised him I will come in two weeks’ time so instead of spending two week in America, I will spend three weeks, 2weeks in LA and three days with him in Washington and 3days with my sister in Maryland.
One week in the apartment came to an end and we decided to pay for 4 more days before leaving for Newyork. Time to pay, payment kept declining…I started calling my account officer in Nigeria, finally got to him eventhough it was almost 2am in Nigeria, then he gave me the worst news ever :Buhari has reduced spending limit abroad to 2000 USD, you have exceeded your spending limit ma….errr Ayo this is not possible, there must be something that you can do: nothing ma, this is beyond me or even the bank manager, it is the new CBN rule, I had also exceeded the spending limit on my account for the month. AYEMITEMIBAMI
That was the beginning of the end of my holiday in LA, now we were potentially homeless; Samantha claimed to have no money on her at all so food would even be a challenge? I went to the Landlord and explained our predicament on international spending limits in Nigeria, he seemed to believe us and graciously gave us two nights free, enough time for us to get ourselves together. I humbly called my brother who helped me book tickets after telling me the story of my life.
Look I do not even want to hear the word LA or Hollywood in my life again, my lagos is enough for me.