This is me openly reminiscing about some of my favorite travel moments with my family.
Calabar to Oron, Akwa Ibom: Almost every year on the 25th of December, a day that we celebrated for obvious reasons (Christmas) and because it marked 2 birthdays in the family, we would leave Calabar for Oron by car or my personal favorite – speedboat. I like being in or around water which is no surprise since I descend (at least partly, on my dad’s side) from riverine people. I enjoyed the bouncy feeling as the boat sped through the water and the exciting departure from everyday life that cruising in a boat to a destination represented. Though it wasn’t always possible, I always wanted us to travel by speedboat.
Oron is so close to Calabar (2hr drive, under an hour by boat) that the trip would often last a day, no sleepovers, which is what we (my siblings, cousins, and myself) wanted. My grandparent’s house was huge, or it seemed so to us, and we loved to play hide and seek in the many rooms or pretend we were on an adventure in an unknown land. Sometimes we would put on singing or dancing performances for my (now late) grandpa and the rest of the adults and bask in their polite smiles and applause. Maybe they were impressed, I don’t know for sure, but I cherished those moments. When my grandpa couldn’t travel as often to meet us in Oron, we stopped going. The details of some of the trips are blurry now, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget how excited they made me feel.
Lagos – Dubai – New York: This was one of my favorite trips with my family. Not only was it mine and my siblings first time in NYC, we vacationed with my Dad – a rare occurrence since he moved back to Nigeria full time. The entire family was together for 11 days in a beautiful contemporary styled two-story apartment in NYC’s East Village, though you would have been doubtful of its beauty from the exterior. Although I hated the dirt on the streets and the crowds of people, my siblings and I were thrilled to see places we had only seen or heard about on Disney Channel, and try foods we’d read about from places whose names were emblazoned on shirts from our childhood (Hey Katz Delicatessen!). We walked around Times Square, snapped cheesy photos at Madame Tussauds, looked out at NYC from the 80 somethingth floor of Empire State Building, and took an expensive taxi ride to the other side of the city to watch Ringling Bros. in the circus. $8 lemonades were drunk from cups my Dad made us promise to keep because who pays $8 for lemons, water, and sugar? Sipping on our drinks, we watched daring circus acts that made me tap my sibling’s shoulders excitedly and struggle to keep my mouth closed. “How is that possible?!” I thought with each act. As trapeze artists flew to shocking heights in the air, I prayed that they had rehearsed well enough not to fall. At Coney Island, we bought hot dogs at the famous Nathan’s and ate with family friends at the pier. If there ever were a perfect summer, this was it.We could have flown from Lagos to NY via Atlanta but we flew to Dubai so we could spend 10 days there as part of the vacation. It meant we had to sit on a plane for 13 hrs to NY but the stopover was worth it. It was our second trip to Dubai, and this time my cousin and grandma were in attendance. It had been a while since we traveled with grandma so I was excited to have her onboard. She taught me how to make pancakes on this trip. When I remember Dubai ’09, the activities we did are out of focus. Instead, I remember the quality of the company. Our best moments were spent together, at the apartment, laughing, burning pancakes before getting them right, cat-walking to the Nintendo Wii’s instrumentals, staying up late talking, feigning jet lag, and enjoying the freedom to walk alone to the KFC on the corner. I’m sure my mom, who had to get us out of the apartment on time, ensure we were fed and safe has a different view of this trip than I do, I’ll have to ask, but I know that the family time was priceless.
Miami to Orlando: By this annual summer trip to Miami, I had already started college so I was happy to see my siblings who I hadn’t seen since January. Seeing them was enough, but my Dad made things better by buying tickets to Universal Studios and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). We piled into a car big enough to fit six of us and drove the 3.5hrs to Orlando. Our first stop was the Island of Adventures side of Universal Studios which has all the terrifying + thrilling rides my parents had been on years before. I remember asking my dad if we were going to go to Disney World as well, to which he responded “we’ll see”, a nice way to let me know that wasn’t happening.For a family of 6, either Disney or Universal tickets can cost over $600. “We’ll see” was nice, he should have said, “No, ma’am”.
Veteran visitors, they guided us towards the best rides but stayed safely on the ground. My dad participated in one ride, a Harry Potter themed one and closed his eyes for most of it. I guess he wasn’t a fan of dementors. We rode roller coasters until we were happily exhausted, and ended the day eating overpriced turkey legs.
The next morning, we visited the Kennedy Space Center. My dad concluded at the end of the day that my siblings and I found the tour of KSC boring. On the contrary, we were engrossed. Nothing is boring about how humans fly spaceships past the earth’s atmosphere + KSC is an actual launch point. I was stoked!, not just to see the place but to learn a bit about what goes on at NASA and the history of space expeditions. There was something about being on the grounds where rockets launched into space that felt unreal. The highlight of our trip and the most uncomfortable part was the launch simulation. We sat in chairs that tilted at an uncomfortable angle and shook vigorously to mimic what astronauts have to endure during spaceship take-off. Between that and all we learned earlier in the day, I couldn’t help but appreciate & be terrified of the job astronauts do.
The next morning, we drove back to Miami with hard copies of photos in our bags and intangible memories in our heads.If you had to choose one place to visit with your family, where would it be?
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The pictures in this post are from a Spring Break trip w/ my siblings to NYC in 2016.
Shot & edited on iPhone.
Same Footprints, Different Sands