Before the trip began Wole had warned me, “Please, don’t show how much you don’t like some things you see or have to deal with.” I wear my emotions like old church ladies used to wear hats, so somewhat proudly and on full display for even the backrow to see. I did not realize this would be tried as soon we arrived at our host’s airport.
Baggage claim went fine even if we did have to take group photos before even traveling 6 feet, but as soon as we got to the car, I immediately had to try out my Miss America runner up face. The SUV we arrived at was a five seater, while there was Wole, our two girls, me, Wole’s sister Sade, our host Wole’s cousin Siye, and his wife, Patience. For those of you playing along at home that’s seven people and a car meant for five. Wole dejectedly looked at the car seat he had insisted on bringing across the country for our four year old, as he placed it in the trunk. Siye and Patience climbed in the front, leaving us crammed with four in the seat and Sade holding the four year old on her lap.
It was easy for me to keep my mouth shut, because it was ninety degrees out and the windows were all lowered as we barreled down the highway and wind whipped all around us. However, my cautious law abiding husband, could not keep silent on the matter and asked if our hosts were at all concerned about being pulled over and the possible consequences, like oh say, being hauled to jail. Siye’s reply, “Oh, there are a lot of people in this area. The cops have better things to do then pull us over for this.” Glancing over, I saw Wole’s head twitch as a failure to compute hit his brain.
When we got inside the house and indicated we were hungry, as it was about our normal dinner time, and lunch had been part of a pretzel, a crazy sighy soon filled our eyes. I looked in the kitchen to see my children being handed an entire plate full of cheese balls, after I had just kept Patience from giving them their 3rd sugary drink for the day. I dove like a wide receiver in the end zone and was able to allocate the cheese balls among 3 adults as well as the two children, as we were all given a hot dog and a slice of pepperoni pizza that was bigger than our heads. We all sloshed our way into the living room (a tiny room with 3 chairs in it, despite the fact that four people lived there), while laughing and protesting Patience’s very real declaration that dinner would be coming later on. Saye soon disappeared for some camp thing, even though he had bragged about taking the week off earlier in the day. It was then we began to notice, though the air had been turned on, the house was not any cooler and no noise was coming from the air system. While our hosts just looked on and said, “Hunh,” Wole and I got to work opening up all the windows in the house to get some of the slightly cooler air into the house. We took our girls and Patience’s two girls on a hot sticky walk around the neighborhood and shortly I took a cold shower to try and cool down and go to bed with the only decent sized fan in the house.
The next morning, Wole discovered for us, that the hot water in the shower did not work at all. One had to fill a bowl up in the sink and then dump the hot water into a bucket until you had enough to dump over yourself, so exactly the way I had to bathe in Nigeria when the running water was intermittent. This was how I had to bathe the children.
Over breakfast Siye kept saying, “Man, it’s going to be over 100 degrees today. Crazy. And then it might rain tomorrow.” This indicated he was in no rush to fix this no AC in ridiculous heat situation. Wole squeezed my hand tight, which communicated, “Thank you for not saying anything and yes, I’m not happy about it either.”
We had an errand to run that Wole, the girls, and I had to be present for, which meant riding in the SUV. This time Wole informed Patience, she would not be coming along and even left Sade behind, so that everyone would have a seatbelt. When we tried to secure those seatbelts on the girls, I discovered the seat cover Siye had put on covered all the seatbelts, meaning these seatbelts were most likely not used by his two daughters ever. I removed the cover and as we got moving I tried to tactfully handle the next problem. “So Brother Siye, does the air conditioner not work in this car, or did we just opt to have the windows down yesterday?”
Siye: “I like to save gas money.”
Me: “I will lend you ten bucks in gas money.” He laughs. “No seriously. Anyways, you spend just as much gas money to keep the windows down, because it fights the forward momentum of the car.”
Siye: “Hunh, really? Well, wait until after I get gas.” (5 miles further down the road and directed towards Wole in the front seat in a soft voice) “I don’t think the AC works.”
Wole: “Yep, it’s not working. Hun, you want to roll the window all the way down.” Me: (I’m proud this is the bitchiest I got all trip) “Not unless I want to eat my own hair.”
After a stop where I could acquire some ponytail holders and acceptance that there was no AC in the car or house and my host had just blatantly lied to me I went in to laugh-instead-of-cry mode and tried to keep my hot wind-blown children entertained.
To be continued….