My LifeTravel

10 Things I Learned About Myself From My Trip to Abuja

My peoples! How I’ve missed you so. My blog hiatus was longer than I planned, but that was because I was frolicking with my family in Abuja, Nigeria. I was there for my cousin’s wedding and you know Nigerians love to do it HUGE, which we did. I had a great time but it’s good to be back. I almost hit my wop at customs.

This was my second time in Nigeria in the past year, and I definitely kicked it. It’s best when there with people my own age that I love. Some of my other cousins were there too and we took on Abuja together. But in the time we were there, I learned a little bit more about myself. Some of these things I already knew so they were just confirmed. Others, are brand new. Many of these are food-related because I’m a glutton.

1. I am deathly afraid of millipedes and other tiny things with legs (like roaches, spiders, kids) – Well, I already knew I hated roaches but I didn’t know millipedes would also punk me. I was in the kitchen with my cousin rummaging for food when I saw something on the floor in the shape of the number 9. It was black and shiny.

Then the 9 started unraveling into a 1. OH NOOO!!! It’s ALIVE! And it moves! Me and my cuzzo stared at it then it started moving away and out the kitchen with all these tiny legs underneath. I was frozen to one spot. Mind you, it was only like 2 inches and I’m sure I could have crushed it with my shoe. But ALL THOSE LEGS!!! EEEEEEWWWWWWWW.

I turned around so I’d stop looking at it and didn’t turn back for another couple of minutes. By that time, it had wriggled out of the kitchen. PHEW. Close call. To what? I’m not sure. It punked me sufficiently though. Now I know that millipedes can be added to the “Things with legs I can’t deal with” list.

2. There is such a thing as eating too much suya, and flossing too much is a dangerous side-effect. What’s suya, you might ask? Wells, it’s made with skewered beef or chicken and served with ground pepper and onions. It’s basically meat that has been seasoned in all these spices and let to soak and dry. It’s soooo good.


In Nigeria, you can buy suya almost anywhere. There are suya stands everywhere and since we don’t get it readily here, we cousins indulged in suya almost everyday. I’m not even a big carnivore and I was eating it like it was going out of style. But while it takes you 5 minutes to eat, it takes another 30 minutes to pick it out your teeth. I took hella floss with me when I was going because of this, so I was a flossing fool. One day, I flossed so much that my gums started to hurt, and the next day, I could only chew on one side.

Yes, one can surely eat too much suya.

3. There are foods that are too spicy for me. Spicy food is my FAVORITE. I was eating the spiciest of rices (yes, rices) at the age of 1 without flinching. My friends know not to ask me if something is too spicy because I always say no while their eyes water from the hotness. BUT I was bested in Nigeria.

The cook made some peppered snails, which I LOVE, so I asked for 3. When I started eating snail 1, I was good. By the time I finished it though, my nose was running and my eyes started to burn a little bit. GOODNESS! MY tongue was on fire. CHEI! But it was sooo good so I was hellbent on finishing the rest.

My journey through snails 2 and 3 was an uphill battle. I wasn’t gonna let these spices get the best of me! I WAS GON FINISH like a champ. And I did. But I downed one bottle of water along the way. And used many tissues to wipe my newly-runny nose. And for 30 minutes AFTER my meal, I was still going “AAHHHH in front of a fan with my tongue hanging.” Who’da thunk that I would find food that was too spicy for a thug like myself? Surely not I.

4. I have an iron stomach. We were eating constantly in Abuja. CONSTANTLY. That’s the perk of having a cook make whatever you want at whatever time. If we weren’t eating full meals, we were snacking. I doubt we ever went more than 2-3 hours without eating something. And because a lot of us don’t live in Nigeria, some of the food didn’t always agree with everyone. Not to give TMI but some of my kinfolks had to go to the bathroom more than usual, and some even needed the help of Imodium to simmer down their digestives due to a bad batch of egusi stew.

Not I.

I ate everything everyone else did and never even got a tummy ache. I was skipping around like a champ! My uncle said “You must have an iron stomach.” Apparently, so. My digestive system did the dougie on my Naija non-diet!

jollof rice is finished

5. Deodorant is one of life’s necessities.  There is never a day that passes where I don’t use deodorant. God invented it so that we can all be fresh and smell like spring rain at will. However, I didn’t realize how the world would be if we didn’t use deodorant and anti-perspirants regularly. Until I went to a Nigerian market. GOOD. GAWD. ALMAHTEE.

A whole area of people who are sweating in 95 degree heat, without the aid of Secret, Degree or Old Spice, smells like feet, corn chips, despair and sabotage. Seriously. You don’t know pain until someone who’s in African heat since high noon walks by you and their scent clouds the air like the tension of oppression. I was ready to pass OUT. Like DAMB! Next time I go, I might need to bring a suitcase of deodorants so some folks can keep that Secret and stop Right Guard from going left. Not cool.

No internet access6. I can survive without 24/7 internet access. Not just survive, but THRIVE. At my uncle’s place, there was wi-fi, and at least 8 iPads in that house. The way the wi-fi worked was there’s a certain amount of minutes on it and we can all use it until those minutes are done. At which point, someone had to go to the store to buy more minutes. This wouldn’t be a problem but because of all the wedding hoopla and planning, wi-fi access was the least of our concerns. And this was fine.

I am queen of internet addiction. And for over a week, I had VERY little access to the web, and I had a grand time. It was great not being tied to a computer ALLATAHM. I didn’t check email much and I felt unburdened, like Rick Rawse would after a breast reduction. It was awesome.

I knew I could live without internet access for a span of time but this just made me proud of myself. I wasn’t going through withdrawal. Well, not too much. Except for that one time when I was like “I feel so cut off from the world.” By one time, I mean 5 times. Same difference. I was ok though. Someone should pat me on the back. Or buy me something.

7. I can’t rock gele for too long. Gelé (pronounced “gay-lay”) is the headtie we wear for special occasions. They can be elaborate and very pretty. Typically, I decline to rock them, but last year, I wore one for the first time in like 20 years, for my Granny’s funeral. Then I had to rock one last week, for my cousin’s wedding. She flew in the premier Gele guru of the world, Segun Gele, from Houston to come hook us up (and do our makeup). If you’re gonna rock one, that is the person you want to tie yours. He makes them in all types of shapes and it’s instant facelift.

The bride and bridesmaids! BTW, I’m not that short. Everyone else had on their heels and I was in my flats. SHARRAP.

Anywho, us bridesmaids (and of course the bride) all got our geles tied for the traditional engagement ceremony  and we were looking GOODT!

But by hour 4, I was done for. I spent the whole day fidgeting with my gele because I’m not used to having something tight on my head. This is probably the same reason I don’t/can’t rock weaves. I don’t enjoy having things constricting my head for long. I can’t handle hairhats.

It was important for me to keep my gele on for most of the event, which I did. But by the time the dancing part of the engagement started, I took mine off. I should have kept it on longer because it was beautiful but you see, I’m a bush gehl.

Luvvie and Segun Gele

Shourrout to Segun Gele! Dude got SKILLSSSSS.

8. I’m a true Naija girl and my accent will never go away. Some people who’ve known me for years say they’ve never heard my Nigerian accent when I talk. Others can pick it up. I have one, albeit, very subtle in my daily speak but it comes out more obvious when I’m excited or angry. However, when I was in Abuja hanging with my cuzzos, my accent was full on. We were all even talmbout how if some of our friends heard us talk to each other, they’d be like “OMG. Where’d that come from?” We’re so fluid in how we can slip in and out of tongues.

My accent will never go away, and I’m pleased. I enjoy it now, even though I didn’t when I was growing up and kids would make fun of how I spoke. Now? I embrace it.

9. Jet lag is not my friend. The day after we got to Abuja, I woke up only after my aunt came in the room asking if I was hungry. I thought it would be noon at the latest. WRONG! It was 3pm. Abuja is 6 hours ahead of Chicago so you can see how jet lag could make me its’ bish. I go downstairs to greet everyone and I’m met with ” WELL GOOD AFTERNOON!” I couldn’t e’em explain besides “yeah I was tah’d.” Same thing happened the day after. I was sleeping the whole day away.

Now that I’m back home, I’m once again victim of jet lag. I’ve been going to sleep at like 11pm. For most people, that’s normal. But for me, the night owl who never sleeps on time, that’s like going to bed at 7pm. Yup, jet lag is dropkicking me though the goalposts of life.

10. I’m easily spoiled. No really. It’s REALLY easy for me to be lazy. I never had to wash a dish or a cup while I was there. Now that I’m home, I’m looking at the sink all resentful, wondering why I have to do it myself. WOMP. I better go have a seat. Everyone has a maid there, but here? NAWL. It’s ok. I’ll learn. Once I get roaches covering the sink. OK OK I KID! It won’t ever get to be that bad. I’d just move out for the roaches. I’m only kidding. But I could be serious. O___O

I had an AWESOME TIME! I love Abuja. Can’t wait for my next visit. Doing non-hoodrat things with my cousins is always a blast!

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  1. May 7, 2012 at 8:20 am

    OH, this all looks so great! I must visit Nigeria some time soon in my life, I’m positive I’d love it. Also…I need a gele in my life, that looks too fly. The bride looks gorgeous. I’m such a wanna be African…alas, I was born in the Caribbean.

    I know what you mean by being easily spoiled, Luvvie. I grew up in Haiti with a maid and a chauffeur..when I go home to visit, the only thing I have to wash is my own butt. I get back here, and just want to chuck my laundry out of the window. Anyhoo, you’ve been missed!

    • May 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

      YESSSS so you understand. But yes, I’s back!

  2. B. Sanders
    May 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Hey Luvvie Boo!

    Welcome back to America sweetie! Loved your post and as always, you brought the funnies! You’re such a riot. I’m glad you had a good time with the Fam. That’s what’s up.

    • May 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Good to be back!

    • May 10, 2012 at 1:19 am

      Thanks, Barb! Great to be back!

  3. MsDrema
    May 7, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Welcome back and I love reading about your spectacular trips to Nigeria. I do have one question about the bridesmaid dresses: does each person design their own, incorporating the primary material/pattern? Thanks for sharing.

    • May 7, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Those aren’t our bridesmaids dresses. That’s “aso ebi.” It’s what we wear to the traditional wedding piece. The bride picks a material and her friends and bridesmaids go get that material made into a style, sometimes picked by the bride but you add your own flair to it. The burgundy dress I have on in that other pic is the bridesmaid dress we wore to the regular white wedding.

  4. May 7, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Love the pics & nice post 🙂
    As for the gele, as beautiful as it is, I haven’t worn one for 6 or 7 yrs, with the exception of my sister’s traditional engagement in ’09, when I HAD to do so or die by my mama’s hands 😆
    As for #5, this has been my struggle for the longest time. Lawd. If I wasn’t scared of being beat up, I’d go around spraying people down with the most fragrant of fragrances.

    • May 10, 2012 at 1:20 am

      Yeah you can’t turn down gele for certain occasions, lest you wanna be side-eyed to pieces and insulted to shame.

  5. yadi
    May 7, 2012 at 10:48 am

    sounds like an awesome time!

    welcome back!

  6. May 7, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Giiiiiiiiiiiiirl, I’m sooooo jealous oo! Ain’t nuffin like the motherland!!!!!!!!!!!

    Those geles are BANGING!!!!

  7. Daps!
    May 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I died reading this post…cause it happens to me all the time. This has to be the funniest experiential post ever!!! I never laughed so hard at someone’s fear before. I feel you on suya, pepper (I’m somewhat of a punk there, but I love it). Deodorant is a foreign idea to the populous cause damb it to heck if that foul stench doesn’t rule the air there…All in all amazing post!!! Still cracking up!!

    • May 10, 2012 at 1:21 am

      Thank you kindly, sir.

  8. Charlotte
    May 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    The geles and the outfits are gorgeous! And I’ve had some spicy Nigerian food before so I know where you’re coming from with that. It’s so spicy but it’s so good you don’t want to stop eating it.

    • May 10, 2012 at 1:21 am

      Thanks, Charlotte. And you’re right. While your tongue burns, you can’t out your spoon down b/c it’s so delicious.

  9. BlackBerry Molasses
    May 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Dem gele’s doe.
    The wedding looked glorious. You looked amazing and THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR MAKING ME LONG FOR A TRIP TO GHANA. Now me and the dude gotta scrape up the G’s for plane tickets, because I will not rest until I’m drinking palm wine on my cousin’s veranda on Christmas.

    So rude to my savings account. Urgh.

    So tell me why I still have the bolts of cloth from my bride price… unsewn. Just sitting in a suitcase. I’m stealing design ideas from this picture.

    • May 10, 2012 at 1:22 am

      Girl I wanna visit Ghana so bad. I should do it next time I go to Naija. Hop on over and say hey to the neighbors or something.

  10. nichole
    May 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    You were missed but it sounds like you had a great time. The picture of the bridal party is beautiful.

    My Texas accent is more pronounced when I’m excited, angry and tired. Late evenings give me away every time.

    The deodorant comment had me ROLLIN’. I could only imagine. I ventured home to Texas during the middle of the summer testing a “natural” deodorant. Never again! Actually my mom now keeps some Secret at her house just for me during those visits.

    Thanks for the insight on your visit. Sounds like a blast!

    • May 10, 2012 at 1:22 am

      Girl that deodorant thing… it’s serious. Lack of it is a tragedy. Had the place smelling turrble!

  11. Marsha S. Haneiph
    May 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Luvieeeeeee, I missed you so much! Girl, this post was wonderful. I was dead and buried at number five. Seriously, walk through a Caribbean market when the sun gets hot and phew!

    Also, I totally agree about the accent. Hold on to it with all four limbs because the way we talk defines us. Great to have you back. Cheers!

    • May 10, 2012 at 1:23 am

      MARSHA! Hey girl hey!

  12. May 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Ya’ll look SO fly. And I needssss to taste me some suya. You almost had me over here licking the computer screen with that picture, which I’m sure don’t even do it justice of seeing it in person!!

    This was a great post and I’m so glad you’ve been able to travel back to the country of your peoples. Such a great experience, I’m sure!

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

  13. Bukky
    May 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    “…A whole area of people who are sweating in 95 degree heat, without the aid of Secret, Degree or Old Spice, smells like feet, corn chips, despair and sabotage. Seriously. You don’t know pain until someone who’s in African heat since high noon walks by you and their scent clouds the air like the tension of oppression…”

    But Luvvie!!! I laughed so hard I got the hiccups. Cause I know that stench of despair. I could smell it as I read. It’s unforgettable. I tell people (my non Naija folks) that Nigeria has a couple of distinct smells to it. They laugh at me.

    -The smell when you get off the plane which then intensifies once you step outta the airport.
    -The smell of the market as you described earlier.
    -The smell of the kitchen/cooking area…glorious
    -And the faint smell your luggage has when you come back to the States, cause of all the clothes you brought back and the food items your mom and aunts had you sneak through customs.

    The suya pic made my mouth water and the jollof rice meme pic is going on pinterest.


  14. Lexi
    May 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Glad you had a great time luvvie!!! I have many nigerian friends and am itching for one of them to get married so I can go to a wedding to see it for myself. I always hear about it!!! And I always get all giddy when I see the pictures because of how beautiful everyone always looks!!! welcome back luvvie!I missed tuning in everyday to see your ratchetness lol!!!

  15. mo.Reni.K.B
    May 14, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Still geeking over the fact that Segun Gele came to tie your geles. Y’all real fancy.

  16. chioma oben
    May 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Aso ebi is rocking!

  17. pat
    May 31, 2012 at 2:38 am

    This article is very interesting. I’ve done a lot of traveling in and out of state; was going to Africa and it got delayed..still want to go but it may not happen, but I so enjoyed this article. One thing, every one of the young ladies in the wedding party are GORGEOUS. What a beautiful representation of your country…love, love, love!!! *Awesome*

  18. Rach
    June 11, 2012 at 10:06 am

    but you said…” I felt unburdened, like Rick Rawse would after a breast reduction…”


    your mind is a WONDERFUL place LOLOL! Cause that was too much funny for me! Got me quoting you at work… I’m a hit! And all cause you are a wonderful fool! I’ve been spreading the gospel of your blog. Funny as hell, insightful and NOT IGNORANT like some of these “blogger broads.” That’s what I call em. Anywho, PEACE TO YOU! And may the force be with you 🙂

  19. Ome
    September 14, 2012 at 2:05 am

    U should be sued for not putting a warning up! Got me cracking up at 6am. Spicy thingy or the deo ish…smh, girl you are something

  20. Adwoa
    September 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Luvvie! So I read this when you posted it – never suspecting that life would take some crazy and unexpected turns, and I would move to Abuja three months after the post went up!

    My dad just took over directorship of a thinktank, and I’m following my parents for a year to work as a communications consultant writing for different development organizations. I’m THRILLED and excited, and it’s all come up super fast (in classic African fashion, I waited a month, then got the contract last Wednesday and I’m supposed to start work on the first. !)

    ENNEHWEIGHS, I would love love love any suggestions you have of people to contact for writing or general ratchetry, places to go, food to eat (I don’t eat meat or poultry but can generally murder seafood and give zero dambs), and sights not to miss!

    • September 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      Oh wowwww!!! That is BEYOND awesome. What are the odds? Oh you’re gonna have a blast and then some. I don’t have any writing connects there but I do have food suggestions. Go to the Bookah Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel. It’s a buffet style and it is BEYOND good. Girl we went twice in the week we were there.

      Places to go? Urrmmmm there’s a club there and one I forget it’s name. Ok I’m the worst guide EVER. Feel free to email me at doe!

      • October 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        Ha! Will do. I’m finalizing up some visa stuff but it’s been approved, so I should be arriving this weekend!