A blonde scouse-talian on her Lagos Odyssey from a wedding invitation to the party itself.
A few weeks ago I was invited to a wedding with very short notice, but I was delighted by the invitation as who knew when I would ever get another invitation to a Nigerian wedding. And weddings in Nigeria are like pasta in Italy: a freaking big deal. Shopping, on the other hand, isn’t so much. International brands (including my fav Zara, or H&M) seem wary of investing in the Nigerian economy, and a trip to the mall is a proper waste of time. Mango is the only brave guy who decided to open stores in Nigeria, but I find the collection to always be a few months, if not years, older than in Europe and extremely overpriced (no offence Mangs, but I feel like I’m shopping in Zara or River Island, which usually have slightly higher price tags). So, back to the wedding invitation: as a typical girl, the question was always going to be – what the hell am I going to wear at this wedding?
The day before the occasion, I have no clue how I managed to easily find a ready-to-wear dress that was flashy enough for the occasion (I was reassured by a comforting “it can never be too much in Nigeria”) and that fit me perfectly. In fact, the search for a dress turned out to be a pleasant surprise: the discovery of ‘secret’ boutiques scattered all over Victoria Island and Lekki selling stunning, locally-designed dresses that made even mum and sis in Italy jealous. That discovery marked the end my desperate ASOS online shopping addiction.
Anyway, you would think the dress is the main piece so once you’ve got it you’re good to go. Just wear it with a simple pair of black sandals, how hard is that going to be? Little did I know that the next day, the day of the wedding, I would go through hell to find a pair of shoes and to get to the bloody wedding. I hired an Uber for a few hours, and after countless visits to stores and Instagram messages to shoeshop owners sending pictures of what I was after, I gave up. As much as it’s important to always try and look your best, my mental sanity is even more, and I wasn’t going to let a pair of stupid shoes spoil my mood. While driving home, my Uber driver (yes, him!!!) goes: “Hey! I’ve got a place for you, we should check that out…”. So there we go, not before making sure these people had what I was looking for. The whole thing was an experience – the shop was in Surelere, also known (by myself) as Chaos, as there’s so much chaos that when I think of it my mind gets filled with chaos. As there’s nowhere to park in Chaos, I walked there instead. People staring, people hollering at me, deafening honks, Ke Ke’s (Tuk tuks) almost running me over, traffic lights whose light didn’t matter whether they were red or green because it’s the same F thing. But I got the goddamn shoes! You think I’m a weirdo for going through all this for a pair of shoes, but obviously if I had known it would entail all this BS, I would have never done it in a million years. I was in it already and it was too late to get out of that ridiculous situation.
Got home safe and sound, wore my wedding party dress and stepped out again – first stop would be a quick visit at the hair dresser for a super-fast blow dry, then the party, wohoo! Could this go smoothly? After all, I had a shit morning with the shoes so I couldn’t get that amount of bad luck twice in a day. Wrong, Silvs! The hairdresser’s street was blocked (no sign, no notice, nothing. Thanks Nigeria!) so I had to get off the cab and walk this road full of paddles and holes in my wedding party dress and on high heels. Please imagine the scene. 15 minutes later I’m in the car again, my mind set on that beautiful glass of champagne that would soon release the stress I had accumulated. But Silvs was wrong again, it wasn’t soon at all. A journey that would normally take 5 minutes took me three tedious and frustrating hours. Very few things about a city are, in my opinion, worse than traffic. There’s always traffic in Lagos. But the traffic that day was another level, something I had seen maybe no more than three times before in my life. Needless to say, in that moment my love feelings towards Lagos completely vanished and I only had hateful thoughts about the city’s total incapability to cope with traffic. I couldn’t explain to myself how Lagosians can live in such purgatory without losing years of their lives to stress. Maybe they do.
Anyway, when close enough to the venue, I jumped off the car (FREEDOM!) and zig-zagged through cars to get to the place. Except my friends were not replying and I spent a good 10 minutes at the wrong wedding, before being directed to the right one (by far the biggest wedding party I’ve ever been to). And as predicted, the champagne did almost instantly lift my mood. After the Odyssey, here came the fun.