– Hadiza Duncan
‘Awesome, absolutely awesome!’, is what I’m thinking as the plane descends into the Barajas Airport, Madrid. I’ve never been to Spain before. As a matter of fact, I’ve never been anywhere in Europe; and if the absolute truth be told, I’d never left the shores of Naija until 2009, at the ripe old age of 29. (Ok, I’d been to Ghana, but you can’t count that as janding! It’s a bit embarrassing to pose about going there – weren’t we the ones who once insisted that Ghana must go?) Anyway, my job (permanent contract) in different places allows me to move around a bit, so I enjoy one month in London, one in Chicago, another in Paris (that one’s still a dream) and now a three-month contract in Madrid! I’m known as an Island Big Babe in Lagos – not that I care one bit about all that stuff – but by the time I return, omo, I will be properly sophisticated, no doubt about it.
Apart from the terrible heat, which quite literally burns, I feel like I’ve settled in pretty quickly. Even the fridge in my tiny little flat (and when I say tiny I mean tiny) is filled with proper oyibo food. You see, the person in charge of my contract took me straight from the airport to the shops. Wouldn’t it have been slightly weird if I’d started asking him about yam and garri? Mbo we went for ham and barley instead! On my second day in Spain, I rested. By day three, feeling cool with myself, I ventured out. ‘Omo, how bad can it be?’, I thought. ‘There’ll be someone to speak to for sure.’ Four hours later I slunk back home. There wasn’t one similar face in my neighbourhood – only older white faces, and you know what that means!
I tried a couple of conversations: one with a taxi driver and the other with a man in an ice cream van. Let’s just say that all the time I spend listening to “Spanish with Michel Thomas” on my iPod was time down the drain. Not one word was familiar, apart from ‘Hola!’ (but am I supposed to go around saying only that?) In fact, the response to ‘Hola’ is so fast, that you just stand there looking like a mumu while you try to figure out what on earth has just been said. My number one plan, once the heat eases up, is to practice my tennis in the land of Rafa. At this rate I’m wondering when and how that will happen. The heat seems even worse than in Lagos. I’m now using sunscreen, as almost immediately after I landed, I started to get sunburn…on my feet. There’s no way I’m going to wait for it to get to my face.
My workmates are good people. At least we can communicate to some extent in English, and they’ll teach me their language, which I have to learn fast! While trying to speak Spanish the other day, I mistakenly said that I like to have sex. (Don’t judge me – the word for sex and heat are the same!) Obviously, my first port of call next week will be Spanish Academy. Adios!