Calabar was a totally new and invigorating experience for me. I got accommodation at a hotel. The hotel is a standard one but since the location was not favorable to such an establishment, it was converted to some sort of upscale hostel. The street on which it is located is largely a residential area, there are no businesses around to attract people from the corporate world and it is not easily accessible due to bad roads. Hence, the brilliance of the owner to let the rooms out to those who need them.
The street I lived in is called Ikot-Ishie meaning ‘bush people’ which I found quite odd as those living on the streets are mainly locals from Akwa Ibom, Calabar itself and a few Ibos. There are two hotels including mine on the street and two motels. It made me wonder why people chose to establish hotels in such an area; an area with very little human traffic and fewer potential customers.
Seventy percent of the residents of the hotel I stayed in were corpers. It was easy to get corpers as tenants because they come to a strange land and are usually in dire need of accommodation. As such, it’s very convenient and comforting when as a corper you get a good accommodation soon after you arrive at your place of primary assignment.
The other thirty percent( of the residents) is made up of a UNICEM worker who lives there with his wife, a political aide and a lecturer who lectures at the University of Calabar. This is a prestigious University that has proud alumni such as Ini Edo, Stephanie Okereke Linus, Godswill Akpabio and other notable men and women in the society.
The area is favorable to me because of its close proximity to the market. However, I didn’t really avail myself of this good fortune because I had Mama Isi. Mama Isi was an institution on the street. She owns a small ‘buka’ close to the hotel I stayed which she had operated for so many years. She was very popular with corpers living on that street because she allowed us buy food on credit. Hmm, credit and corpers; a relationship worth everything.
As I mentioned earlier, most of the people on the street are locals. There are the young guys (the big boys category), secondary school students with sagged jeans, fake big gold chains, tight T-shirts and the ever present all-stars chucks. Then there are the old women (the ‘I’m still young and beautiful’ category) who want to feel among and still go about in bum-shorts and painted faces trying to act as ‘sisis’ looking for young men to devour. Finally, there are the young girls (beautifully packaged), with a lot to offer and not a bit shy about it. They are the ones worth talking about and out of this fold came Darling Rose. Oh, beautiful Darling Rose!
…..to be continued