Chike, (RIP: died in South Africa in 2004) who lived near my building in Onitsha was my friend. He used to go to Cotonou and Porto Novo to buy used spare parts as well. Each time he returned from Cotonou, the whole area would know. He would buy drinks for us, impress girls around the street and wear better cloths. Fortunately for me, i met him in Ladipo market Lagos one day where he came to look for Money to complete the payment of two peugeot vehicles he had bought in Cotonou. He proposed that i bring money and we share the profits after selling the car in Nigeria. The excitment of heading outside Nigeria for the first time was enough for me to agree to the deal. We traveled to Cotonou through Sango – Idiroko border.
I was very surprised at the beauty of the small city called Cotonou. It was cleaner and more organised compared to Lagos which wss bigger and noisy and where everybody seemed to be in a haste.
It was in Cotonou that i noticed electricity can be stable. That was also my first time of touching a foreign currency; the CFA.. We changed our naira to the CFA and that was when i noticed that the money no longer belonged to me. We drove past Porto Novo and busted out at a T Junction. We followed right and drove to the beautiful city of Cotonou.
Since the seaport/wharf was in the Ocean, i had that rare opportunity to touch the ocean waters. We ate some food that i forgot its name. We paid for the two 505 Peugeot vehicles and proceeded to the clearance office.
Could you imagine buying and clearing the cars the same day? I loved that government. After clearing the cars, we hired two drivers to take us and the cars to the border for crossing. And alas! I came to know about smuggling.. As dangerous as it was, i was still excited. I have heard about smuggling but never thought i would be part of it. That night we followed some agents to meet some custom officials. We paid some money and they told us the route to use that night. They told us to move around 12am.
Chike and I decided to have some fun at the border before the smuggle job. We found ourselves at a small hotel where Chike used to lodge. He insisted that we go there. I didn’t know that he had girls there. Se.xx workers! .. Hahahahaha. That was also my first time of going close to Ashawos. I used to think that ashawos were chronic sinners who would go to hell. I grew up a catholic and we saw that kind of things as sins.
Chike called two young girls to our table. I think they were from some state between Ondo and Delta or so they said. I guessed Chike noticed that i was not comfortable since he negotiated for both of us. My mind was playing some Heaven vs Hell puzzle while the negotiation lasted. Finally it was agreed that we will pay 700 Naira each for the quickie, piece of cake!.
Chike took one of them upstairs while the remaining one sat there and stared at me as if i was a pickpocket.
” E be like say you be shy boy” she said.
I smiled and denied the obvious. She then took my hand and led me upstairs..
About being a shy guy, She was wrong. The events that followed vindicated me.