By Olukayode Kolawole
I had completed the official assignment I went for. It was time to go back to Lagos after spending a week long in the heart of Cross River. My flight had already been booked. For the first time in my life, I was away from home and yet didn’t miss home.
Tinapa Lakeside hotel was good to me. The hotel staff were the friendliest people I had ever met. The hotel facilities were 5-star rated even though it was a 4-star hotel. But none of this was responsible for my willingness not to return home to my family.
It was something else. And I was warned. I wish I had listened. Let me tell you why I wanted to make Calabar my new home.
The business pitch lasted four rigorous weeks. It was a juicy business deal from the then Minister of ICT. The ministry wanted to launch an ICT hub where young minds can be given a platform to learn how to develop mobile and web applications.
There were a number of burgeoning smart individuals who needed a platform to thrive. The minister’s blueprint provided the opportunity. I was to draft a communications strategy that will help implement the project. Lagos and Calabar were the two pilot states.
Eventually, the news reached us that we won the business pitch. We kicked off with the Lagos launch – it was easy and fast-paced. Two weeks later, I got a brief to move to Calabar for the launch. All-expense-paid trip!
The first three days were lonely and boring. Meanwhile, I had been warned by friends not to socialize with the folks over there for fear I might get carried away with the pleasurable atmospheric condition in the capital to the extent that I might forsake going back to my family. I would say I was a very curious person – and I still am. So, I turned down the advice.
By the fourth day, I was already reaching out to the hotel staff and complaining bitterly about how dry the town was. My repeated complaints reached the right quarters. And help in form of a tourist guide was dispatched to me right away.
My amiable tourist guide took me round almost all the bars and clubs – from Jaspers to Mayfair lounge at Channels View hotel to Pinnacle club at Mirage hotel and finally to Base Bar at Diamond Hill.
By 3am, I was already wasted. But not too wasted for extras anyway. Partying in Calabar was quite different from Lagos. I also found that the hotels were exceptionally different and always willing to help in whatever form.
At 6.30am, I was certain I didn’t want to return home. Maybe it was the different party experience. Maybe it was the courteous approach of the hotel staff. Or perhaps the friendliness of my tourist guide. All I want is to go back to Calabar again. And I want to go alone because in Calabar you will always find new and interesting friends who would be willing to tour you round-the-clock and even go extra miles until you tire out. Now, I understand why Calabar is called ‘Come and Live and Be at Rest’. I really rested!
Olukayode Kolawole works with the PR & Marketing team of Africa’s number one hotel booking portal, Jumia Travel Nigeria. His travel experience is part of the company’s weekly employees’ articles.