“Can’t we just fly, can’t we let go…”
The last few months have been really good. I’ve done a lot with my time off. After years on the daily work grind, I realized I lacked a real direction, and I was slowly losing touch with several people I care about. The second half of 2015 was all about re-gaining those parts of my life that I was letting slip away. My good friends Jackson and Christie were in San Diego, and I hadn’t visited Jackson once in the 5 years he moved out there. On a whim before Thanksgiving, Gloria and I decided to do just that!
The first day we spent on the beach. After checking out of the hotel, Jackson and Christie picked us up and we were off to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The weather and beach were great, as that is usually the case in California.
San Diego was a lot of fun, and they definitely have some great food options. Lately I’ve been eating a lot of chicken tikka masala, and Jackson and Christie knew a spot Gloria and I would enjoy. Recently I learned that the dish may have originated in Britain and not India, which is of course heavily disputed. Either way, it is one that I enjoy greatly.
Jackson and Christie also showed us the Gaslamp Quarter, as well as a Speakeasy. I had never been to one before.
The speakeasy concept was interesting to say the least. We went into a restaurant and into what looked like a back storage room. That wall opened up to another room connecting to a separate building. We were put on a waiting list and told we would be texted when a table would be ready for us. In the meantime, we got some Froyo for Gloria.
Inside the speakeasy was cool. It was a very laid back and intimate environment. My only complaint was the time for the actual drinks to come out. This is not unique to this speakeasy though in its defense. I understand that the presentation is important, but at the same time at the end of the day I just want to enjoy my order. It’s part of the package though when going to any nicer bar.
We finished off the night with some carne asada fries. They are delicious but incredibly heavy for a late night snack. We split one order among 4 people.
We were treated to a delicious brunch at Breakfast Republic. The pancakes were insane! Only Jackson was able to finish his meal.
A highlight of the trip for me was the time spent at Coronado and a zen garden. It was nice to see Jackson and Christie at the same time in California.
We also got to finish a night off at Coin-Op Game Room, a really cool arcade and bar. Bars have started to get dull to me with the extremely loud music and similar concept no matter which is chosen, so this was a nice different experience.
Sometimes the long trips out of the country make for the most memories, but the shorter weekend trips within the United States can be equally as moving. Each of us has so much noise in our lives, be it our bills, jobs, finances, health, and other personal struggles. Through this noise and stress, we often lose connections to each other. It’s difficult, but I try to maintain friendships as best as I can regardless of distance or circumstances.
Our plan was to spend about 10 days in Onne village in Nigeria, to spend a week in Paris, and to spend a day in Washington DC. We had $1600 credit from United after giving up our seats on the way back from the Dominican Republic, so the flight to Paris was essentially paid for. We booked a separate round trip from Paris to Port Harcourt (Nigeria), but that plan came crumbling down due to a delay in Chicago which then caused us to miss the connection by about 3 minutes. Now stuck in Paris 10 days earlier than planned and all flights booked until after the Nigeria ceremony, we were running out of options. Just as panic and desperation set in, a reservation was cancelled and two seats opened up for the next day. The problem? To get those tickets, we would have to pay the full price of those Air France tickets at 6,000 Euros (6769.20 US Dollars :-O). Trying to lessen the blow, the customer service representative talked to his manager for half an hour about our situation, and was able to give us the rate if we had booked a week in advance, dropping to “only” 4000 Euros (4512.80 US Dollars :-/). It was that or miss our own ceremony after all the headache (which honestly we considered), but we swiped away. Good thing Gloria and I try to plan for things like this.
Since Charles De Gaulle airport is HUGE and we just learned that painful lesson, we stayed at Ibis Hotel onsite at the airport so there would be no trouble in the morning. Even getting in line 4 hours early, security still took a very long time, but we made it to our flight.
Onne and our house in the village was more or less the same as I remembered it from my last trip to Nigeria two years ago.
We spent quite a bit of money at The Promise during our stay whenever wanting a quick and delicious meal. They could tell we were American raised from the moment we walked in. It was fine though, and we gave them great business during our stay.
The actual ceremony day was hectic to say the least. Though we had already been living together for 6 months, traveled together, and staying together in the village, I am not supposed to see the bride due to tradition. We just complied to not cause an uproar, which caused a delay getting to the church, as Gloria had to go get ready at another location. For the most part, the ceremony went smoothly. A venue was to be built for this occasion, but it wasn’t ready by the time the ceremony day arrived. Instead, a giant tent with carpet and special air conditioning was set up in a field. It was mostly huge and unnecessary in my opinion, but both Gloria and I were the first to get married in our huge combined families, so we just went along with it. Honestly, the end result was quite enjoyable, and seeing everyone’s happy faces did make most of it worth it.
Things were going well and it was almost all done, but before I knew it, violence erupted just after we left the venue. More on that in part 2 (conclusion of Nigeria and my thoughts on the whole process, Paris, London, Washington DC, and New Orleans).
Song of the post: Moonchild – Nobody (Arµ-2 Flip). The limited lyrics in this flip sum up Gloria and I and our travel goals pretty well.