Travelling is one thing I used to enjoy. I could travel at the shortest notice and at the least excuse! I could take the night bus to the east, arrive in the morning, do whatever that brought me there and take the night bus back to Lagos. I loved travelling! It does not matter the mode of transport. I still love travelling, but since Ziim, particularly as she gets older and bigger it has to be done with lots of planning or is it lots of thoughts.
We had to go to Abuja last week. You probably looked out for us at church last Sunday, now you know where we were. We were in Abuja, beautiful city.
When we got schedulled for the US visa interview inAbuja, I was unhappy. I had submitted our application online since April last year (yes, you read it correctly, April 2011) and getting a date here in Lagos was like something else. Each time I tried, there were no vacant dates, eventually, we got schedulled in Abuja. I had tons of reasons not to go to Abuja. You know, those things that try to stop you; what if you go all that way and you are denied visa. You know how it is, you may just meet one consular officer who takes one look at you and decides that you do not qualify for a visa (at least that is the impression many of us have). Just go, if you are denied, then you would have had a change of environment. I do not want to go by road and I do not have money for airfare; This day, I check my mail, here was confirmation for return air ticket purchased on our behalf by my brother aka broda. Still I was not over the moon about travelling. Why you may ask.
Travelling with a child with Cerebral Palsy, particularly one like Ziim without much head and trunk support could be challenging. I have to push her chair and our luggage. In this trip, after much thought, did I not say it requires lots of thoughts, I had to take along her bath chair. I needed an extra pair of hands and the sellers appear to have closed shops. Ok, what to do, I decided that if I must make the trip, I must psyche myself to enjoy it so that Ziim too will. I reminded myself that I am travelling with a VIP and I will as much as possible try to get VIP treatment.
Going to the airport was easy, I got my cousin Oj to drop us off. At the airport we paid for porter service ( that now is an extra pair of hands, who said the shops were closed?) Entering the departure hall, I beheld a long queue, the porter made to join the queue, VIPs do not stand on the line, do they? I went straight to the begining of the queue, spoke nicely to the person on line, she said it was ok. But one of the staff turned to me; madam why are you jumping the queue? Please join the queue. I am sorry, but I will not join the queue. Cann’t you see people on the queue? Of course I can, but you can see that I am with a person with
different ability a VIP
Monday we were at the US embassy. Before we left I packed Ziim’s lunch, she had breakfast. I was poised for a long wait. But then I forgot that it was America, from the gate we were given the VIP treatment. Madam, this way please, we went right in front of the long queue. Once inside, our passports were checked, I had my finger prints taken, I was trying to find a seat when the security officer asked the waiting applicants to allow us to go first as soon as there is an avaliable officer. So I stood there and shortly an officer was avaliable and we went to his window. In less than five minutes we were done and I was smiling home. See, what if I had allowed myself to stop me from coming.
Coming home yesterday was without any drama. We got checked in as soon as the checking in clerk sighted us. As I made to go to the waiting area, another officer told me that it may be difficult for me to get to the waiting area because of the stair case. We were made to wait in a lounge near the checking in area with a promise to come and get us when the flight is about to board. These seem to be pharohs that know Joseph! At the lounge, I got I a chance to talk to a small audience about Cerebral Palsy and what we are doing. Talk of spreading the gospel. They
looked gaped so much at Ziim that I had to give them the good news. One of them told me she is a retired nurse, then you should have known Cp I said.
We were boarded first, long before other passengers got near the aircraft. A flight attendant offered Ziim a packet of juice, hm.. real VIP treatment. Travelling with Ziim could be fun after all.
If you have a child with Cerebral Palsy and you need to travel, it could be challenging I can tell you that, but it is best to look at it as if you are travelling with a VIP and get all the required treatment. When you perceive that it is not given, demand it.
Did I mention that we enjoyed our stay in Abuja? Oh we did, my sister made sure of that. And remember, I had a VIP.