Tuesday, 15 April 2008

On......NY inspirations, California frolicking and the Water theory




New York was merely a two day stopover and it was my intention to use the time to recover and save some money for the west coast jaunt that lay ahead. That was the objective until the moment Kollington, my party loving friend, arrived on the scene and said we had to rock on Friday. I dragged myself out of bed and cursed my easily susceptible self. We ended up at the Hudson and the night itself was a non-event and the only noteworthy episode involved my foolish dalliance with champagne – the one alcoholic drink that induces a hangover in me.
I did not need to wait long to regret my foolishness because I had to rouse myself at about 8am in order to return the rental car ahead of time. A word of warning – DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO USE A GPS NAVIGATION SYSTEM IN NEW YORK CITY. I attempted to plot what should be a 20 minute drive from Central Park West to 22nd street and it took me damn near an hour. The bloody GPS kept attempting to take me down one way streets and send me hurtling to my doom. The rental assistant had her hand on a stopwatch as I managed to drive the car in one minute before the deadline. There was an unmistakable look of disgust on her face for not being able to impose a late penalty charge plus one day rental cover plus taxes. I managed to walk back to the hotel – a journey which took me ten minutes -and there was Kollington’s grinning face waiting for me. He is one of those medical marvels who are somehow able to consume copious amounts of alcohol in one night and yet somehow retain the presence of mind to wake up in the morning with an unblemished clarity of thought. He and his brother were going for some gym training and did I want to come along? What the hell I thought. It turned out to be one of those boot camp type of things where the instructor physically abuses you for one hour. After the session I felt violated with my heart beating at a rate that it had not reached in many a year.

In the evening I somehow found the strength to meet up with an old friend who works as an actress in the city. She was late so we skipped dinner and headed towards Chelsea and a book reading by one time blogger Teju Cole (a pseudonym). He has recently published his first book Every Day is for the Thief which is a very promising debut. I was a huge fan of his as a blogger and I sense that there are great things to come from this author. A further rallying cry to you literally inclined bloggers out there – STOP SLEEPING. In less than 18 months Teju (picture below) has gone from updating his admittedly brilliant travel blog to becoming a fully fledged author. Make una wake up o!




The morning belonged to San Francisco and California dreaming. It is a city that I fell in love from the moment plane tyre touched tarmac. It is hard to describe this bay side city in words so feast your eyes a bit on the pictures above










California was unarguably the finest state I visited on this trip and has a strong claim to be regarded as a country in its own right. You will never savour a finer driving experience than the eight hours (broken up in chunks) that I spent on the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Dana Point. I enjoyed it so much that I got clocked doing 104mph by the local sheriff in Salinas. He took one look at my license, decided that it was probably not worth prosecuting a foreigner and let me go after and making me promise to “ease up on the ol’ gas pedal”

LA was the endpoint of my California trip and in many ways it was an anti-climax to the preceding days of the serene, unspoilt beauty witnessed in Carmel-by-theSea, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. In terms of adventure, however, LA was unrivalled. It is a city that reminded me greatly of Lagos, at once basking in the opulence of palm tree lined boulevards coupled with the very immediate squalor and hardships of so many tramps and layabouts. It is also the only other city I know where “shakara” and “effizy” are the order of the day, more important than any other thing of substance. Big shots and high rollers do not even look you in the eye when they address you. They are constantly looking past you, beyond you, trying to check out other people checking them out.


At the Sky bar on Sunset Boulevard, one Yahooze guy decided he was going to buy everyone drinks. I am not talking one sachet of pure water each o! This guy was popping champagne like say tomorrow no go come. I shack tire that day and even made friends with the guy sef. He said his name was Chad and that he was some producer or something. I lied that I was a screenwriter (everybody in LA na screenwriter). At the end of the night he invited me and the friends I was with back to his place. He said that there was going to be an after party with ample babes and that he had bountiful amounts of “Bolivian cocaine”. Which one be Bolivian cocaine again? Is that somehow different from your garden variety, buy-off-the street cocaine? He lived on Mulholland Drive and we promised to meet him there. We actually did roll there in the hope of witnessing a fully fledged LA orgy but when we reached, the place was looking kinda spooky with its long winding drive and unlit gates. We carefully reversed our car and sped away. No be me they go use do ritual!

LA was a trip and in the end I felt sad to leave but I was convinced that Vegas would provide even more delightful hedonism. I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the self-indulgence is very much in place but it is of the manufactured kind. Everything is ingloriously over the top in Vegas – the buildings, the food, the clubs, the women. It is also full of bloody foreigners and you cannot move without hearing a hotchpotch of various accents and languages. Not a bad place but you could literally be anywhere in the world (there is even a mini New York and Paris for crissakes). It was just a little too touristy for my liking and in retrospect I would have knocked it off my list of destinations for this particular trip. The dusty drive through the old Route 66 was a great treat though but avoid doing it at night. I was a bit frazzled cos we spent a bit too long taking pictures and nightfall caught us on that old road with no streetlights.

I was not sad to leave Vegas a few days later and the early morning flight to Miami could not come soon enough. It was my first time in Miami and the first thing that you notice is the women. Even the women notice the women in sheer appreciation. They are of every hue, body size, ethnicity, inclination and sexual persuasion under the sun. I am not an ashewo but I am a lover of beautiful women and to my mind, Miami has a greater concentration of beautiful women per square foot than any other worldly place I know - apart from my village in Benue state of course where even the mammy water hides her face in shame anytime a female child is born. There is perhaps a link there – water. Are riverine men and women the finest? Think about the finest people you know. I bet they grew up near water. Or perhaps even just a very well dug-borehole. I will accept that. IS there something about the water that makes them very fresh? Surely worth further investigation no?
We spent most of our days in Miami in South Beach between Washington Avenue (clubs), Collins Avenue (shops) Lincoln Road (restaurants) and Ocean Drive (beach and people). Was sick of clubbing by the time we get to Miami and even sicker of the small-minded staff that inhabit the realm of their doorways. However I must give a big up to Opium on Collins Avenue. This was quite simple the best joint I went to on this trip. It is an open air concept that could only ever work in a temperate climate.

On the fourth day the skies opened and they wept. The trip was over and inside I joined in the celestial downpour. It was time to leave and I was satisfied that I had achieved many of the things I sought out to accomplish. I was well rested. I had made good headway on the story I was working on. I had met some fantastic characters. I had dined at some very fine establishments. Life was good.

Many thanks to my travel companion, Bournvi, who at various points of this trip reminded me of the true meaning of friendship. Many thanks to the DC cops who harassed me – e no go better for you. Much love to the understanding sheriff who took pity on me. Thank you to Sierra – you taught me a lot. Thank you Aloha – you saved me cheddar. Many thanks to all American ATMs that will never give you ten dollars when all you need is ten dollars. I will be back soon, perhaps, not wiser, but undoubtedly older.

32 comments:

UndaCovaSista said...

Yay, the trip is over! No more oppression with your exciting tales...

I'm just picturing the sheriff advising you to 'ease of the ol' gas pedal'. Lol!

And you and your friends very wisely reversed and sped off from what might have turned out to be a house of debauchery and perversion...*shudder*... But then again, the guy might have been environmentally conscious and trying to conserve electricity...

Glad also to hear that you are not an 'ashewo', but just a connoiseur of beautiful women...LMAO!

All in all, i'm inspired. Well done..

30+ said...

"We carefully reversed our car and sped away. No be me they go use do ritual!"

Darn I would have given my right toe nail in a bet for Atutu's courage, alas my toe nail stays.

Good to see you enjoyed yourself.

carina said...

Wow traveling in New York is Fantastic! I've heard that there are lot's of Things to do in New York City. Hmmmnnn i wonder when i can go there :)

Jaycee said...

Yayyyyyyy!!! #4...so on point...gotta read this....brb

kulutempa said...

you won't thank me? me who...me that...ok, so i didn't do anything, but thank me anyway!

Jaycee said...

The story abt Teju Cole's 18 month journey to becoming an author is inspiring, to say the least.

You make me want to visit San Francisco/LA/California. I want adventure too (whining). I loved the scenery depicted in the pics. I'm already day-dreaming!!! Lol @ "everybody in LA is a screenwriter." So u too, u come talk say u be screenwriter...lol.

Atutu...u're too much! So the mammy waters in Benue State hide their faces each time a female is born? Loll...what a way to describe beauty!

That's it, there's something crawling on ur skin that attracts cops to pull u over!!! Lol. Whattt?

American ATMs are annoying...they make you spend what u don't want to spend...I totally agree.

I feel like I went on this trip too...can't wait to read ur book!

Moody Crab said...

Awww....what a way to end the story. I felt I followed you evey inch of the way.

"Are riverine men and women the finest? Think about the finest people you know. I bet they grew up near water"

I kinda agree with you. Here, there are so many beautiful women that you'd amazed the thoughts that've crossed my mind. I met this lady in feb and she looked so young, that my jaw literally dropped when I heard she was 50. She danced all night long non stop! Don't even get me started on the body...I guess it is cos they live by the beach and their bodies are constantly on display. Hence, it forces one to take good care of herself physically. I've been prunning, primping and polishing myself since Jan just to get ready for summer here...so I know

Bolivian cocain? Hmmm...very dodgy.

fantasy queen said...

AWWW...glad you had a good time and HURRAY, you didnt get booked in...but is the all american experience complete without a night in the can?lol

LMAO @ your chicken selves getting all hyped up on 'maybe its an orgy' but looks like a damn creepy adams family house bit.
Mr yahozee might have had a ball with y'all.lol

no shit, you're from benue?
now thats got me thinking...i'm a semi benueite(if ever there was a word)moms from there, and true thing you say about the water, i got myself looking at myself trying to relate to what you said about us..lol

princesa said...

Wow! You sure had fun dude!
I wish i went with you on that trip:(

And you didnt lie about the screewriter bit. You write and i read you on my screen,lol!

Zephi Fahrenheit said...

ha! atutu you had a swellll time....wow..
and yes the ladies in miami are a beaut and yes the riverine gals are the finest..I can attest to that...

bolivan cocaine ke? Im glad una pick race oh..LA is one crazy place mehn...I dont think I can live there..too vain for my liking

Thank God for journey mercies and safety

classybabe said...

Nice pics.
What really is bolivian cocaine?million dollar question.
Congrats to Teju.
You obviously had fun on this journey,am green with envy.Lol!

Ms Sula said...

The tales gave me itchy feet!

And I also subscribe to your very brilliant idea that riverside dwellers have something extra...

Well, I should know I come from a long line of fishermen... ;)

Pink-satin said...

see u had lots of fun!

Naapali said...

Thanks for the overview but u have to come back and do this one in sections .

Your reaction to Vegas is not surprising. I find Vegas to be the epitome of everything wrong about America. Over-the-top, tasteless, wasteful, self-indulgent, and soulless. It is a spectacle to see, shrug at and move on.

Now you have me convinced to go book our Miami vacation (sans offspring of course)

Afrobabe said...

Looks like u had fun...plus the pics are beautiful...

You are from benue???? hmmm...which village? cos mine celebrates women!!!

Personally I think you should start with the book writing...we will follow...I promise to buy.

Jaja said...

I still don’t feel like commenting. I feel oppressed. Somewhat intimidated and jealous still. A bit like a neglected stepchild. You all over the world and I must make do with smelly creeks in the Niger delta...

(I must watch it, am adept at self pity)
Even with all my bad belly, I found myself laughing many times. Too funny! :LA shakara people, ritual killers and the cursed police man....... all djoin , and I will add Florida to my dream destinations.. And that bit about near-water dwellers must be true. Everywhere I show face babes and bobos dey chorus am, say I fine pass pappy- water. Thanks for acknowledging...

Teju Cole standing there at a reading. Hmm... my mind wan explode. One doesn’t want to want something too much, so if it misses one one’s disappointment isn’t total. God dey sha...

plus "I had made good headway on the story I was working on" sounds cool to me.Almost, for me,an aspiration

And finally, the quiet mention of Salinas... Am a John Steinbeck guy.. Did you know he was born there and most of his books were set in the Salinas Valley?
Salinas is a mysterious mythical place in my head...

olu said...

A.T., great trip and awesome right up. Could you give a ballpark cost/estimate for your trip?

Okunrin meta

Vox said...

hehehehe..dem wan do ritual for original naija boy..dem no born am well.Seems like you had loads of fun

Abbie said...

lol@ the screenwriter comment. Funny.
Next time you must come through the nations capital. (DC)

Nice Blog.

Waffarian said...

You mean it is all over? Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Thank God! All these stories of dusty roads and skylines, oceans, mammy waters and what not....now I have to beat all this when I do my own road trip....ehhhh abi na canoe trip I be wan talk?

Glad u're back.

TheAfroBeat said...

Na you dey enjoy o! I'm so glad you enjoyed Cali, (i have TQ's Westside lyrics- "from LA to the Bay" in my head right now). I'm one of those Bay lovers myself, LA's a bit too "gra gra" (only ever so slightly) for me.

Pele about the GPS system, you should have just used the numbers now?

SO where to next? Atutu takes on Latin America...

Ms. Catwalq said...

omo, are we fighting?....

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Ekoakete said...

I'm so envious... A stateside roadtrip has been one of my long held ambitions. Welcome back!

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

lol! Seems like you had an incredible trip. Funny you mention Vegas, my friend is trying to set up a girlfriends getaway to Vegas. lol! Maybe its a sign.

Well, anyway, glad you had a great trip and hope this means more frequent posts from you!

guerreiranigeriana said...

splendid analysis of california in general, san francisco, los angeles and vegas...well done, except that you didn't come and find me...i am soooo looking forward to driving slowly and casually up the 101 when i move to the bay this summer...taking pics along the way...falling in love...or something like that:)...

...your theory on riverine people is soooo correct...i had mentioned it to someone a while back....that's why i must always be on a coast, close to some body of moving water...hence my depression in atlanta, surrounded by fat and God-awfully ugly people!!!...miami is tooo sweet!!!...

...glad you enjoyed...i emailed you...did you get it?...

Onyeka Nwelue said...

Teju Cole's reality is something that should come to every blogger alive!

And I visualise being with you on the trip to New York. It seems really nice.

Take care and still hope to speak with you soon!

geisha said...

your words paint pictures, tell stories...
what are YOU waiting for?

Ifeoma-adiagwuagwu said...

Anya.

Crete said...

Interesting to know.

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