Days passed by so quickly and our departure day to France was drawing nearer. I had packed my luggage and few things I’d be needing for the trip. The anticipated day came, my colleagues and I found our way to the airport. There was plasma LCDs of arrival and departure times hung on the wall of the airport. People were lined up at the check in desk with bags and baggage. Outside the building, there was a sculpture of a fish with water gushing out from its mouth and flowing down the drain. In the background a soft country music was being played. It was John Denver’s ‘take me home, country roads.’
In the arrivals lounge, there was a curious mixture of bored and excited people. Some looked like they had just lost a family member while others looked like they were waiting for the second coming of Christ. Some sat on the low comfy chairs while others bounced on their toes.
Moving on to the departure hall, teary eyed individuals bid their loved ones farewell with minute-long embraces and inaudible exchange of words. The soothing classical music now played in the background added more emotions to the scene. Slowly but surely, we stepped forward proceeding to our respectable gates.
With what I saw at the airport that day, I can really say that the walls of the airports have witnessed real and true kisses than churches and it has witnessed more sincere goodbyes and welcome. After so much stress, we got on board and our journey to France began. The trip took us approximately five hours and thirty one minutes.
We landed in Paris, the capital city of France. At the passenger pick up and drop off area, a sneaking queue of taxi drivers were ready to drop travelers and tourists at their destination of their accommodation. A young man parked right in front of us and approached us
“Bonjour mesdames et messieurs. je suis Raphael et je vous conduirai sur le lieu du séminaire” he said while the rest of my colleague looked confused because they did not understand him except me.
“merci beaucoup Raphael” i said smiling at him while I urge the rest to enter the black Jeep parked in front of of us.
Back in the comfort of air conditioning, countless Cafés and restaurant opened for business. The scent of
‘chocolate mousse’ wafts through the air followed by the aroma of a ‘french onion soup.’
We were taken to Créteil, where we will be based for the rest of our stay in France. We stayed at ‘Aparthotel Adagio Access Paris Maisons – Alfort’ which was about 4.3km away from Créteil where a lady welcomed us warmly.
“Bonjour mesdames et messieurs.” The lady smiled at us as we got in.
“Bonjour mon ami, je suis ravi de vous recontrer.” I said stretching my hands towards her.
“Je suis Susan, je avis vous guider tout all long de votre séjour ici en France.” Susan, the lady said as she showed us our rooms.
“Je suis Oluwatimileyin Turner et voici mon ame Faridah.” I stretched my hands over Faridah’s shoulder as we mounted the elevator.
“Speak English Timmy, don’t leave us in the dark. Or are you trying to sell us?” Faridah added sarcastically as we burst into laughter.
Susan took us to our various rooms and made sure we settled down. She attended to me last because I wasn’t in a hurry like the rest of my colleagues. I already arranged my stuffs before she came over to my room. She was surprised at how I made the room mine so quick. She only set up the television. I wanted to reach out to my Mom in Nigeria so as to tell her that we’ve arrived France safely. There’s no way I could do that except via WhatsApp video call. I called out to Susan to help me.
“Susan, donnez-moi le mot de passe de ce Wi-Fi. J’ai besoin d’atteindre ma mère” I begged.
“Ok, le mot de passe est staffsonly16” Susan said as she adjusts the router.
Later that evening, Faridah proposed that we have a walk in the garden, just the two of us. During the whole walk, she spent most of the time asking me about my past life, my daughter, my ex lover but she never mentioned anything about friends.
“So why does your ex lover left you?” Faridah questioned. The only question I didn’t want to answer because I didn’t want to remember anything about it again. Crap.
“Well… Uhm, you see…. I don’t really think Grace was in love with me. She left me after, uhm, something happened.”
“What actually happened?” She looked quite puzzled.
“It’s a long story” we barely talk about personal matters like this yet she was the only friend I had at that moment. Should I trust her?
“We have all the time” she smiled and spread her arms as wide as they’d go. “At least you don’t sleep until it’s 11pm” she added.
I looked at my wristwatch; it was just 7:47pm. “Well uhm…. Basically, Grace left our house for almost a week without coming back. Then four days after she left, I got a call from someone that Grace has started seeing someone else. Uhm… She went away with the man.” Oh God, my eyes were already teary.
Surprisingly, Faridah wrapped me in her arms.
“You’ve never told anyone before me huh? It shows in your emotions. Don’t worry honey, I’ll never leave your side.” Faridah said as she hugged me tighter. I felt secure in her arms. After wiping away my tears, we continued our walk in the garden.
The walls surrounding the building were tall and full of colorful designs. Buildings in Nigeria were nothing compared to them.
“So what do you think?” She asked smiling at me. Her smile swept me off my feet
“I think….. I think you’re amazing. I hope you’re just as great as you look” I added smiling at her
Susan came along and joined us in the walk. She showed us around then she led us to our rooms. My room wasn’t far from Faridah’s room.
During the first two days in France, we didn’t do much activities during the seminar. The trainer, Mr Leonard introduced me to everyone and made me talk about where I came from. A few french men came to talk to me which I found really sweet.
One lady, Chloé helped me with things and also clean my room. Chloé also help me around when Susan wasn’t around.