Camp was a great experience. Some claim it’s because it was Lagos. Compared to the stories I heard, Lagos camp was definitely better than some. Some would say it’s because the batch I was in was the second batch and the officials were not as hype as they would normally be. Whatever it was, I liked it more than I hated it.
I have romanticised views of things usually. I’ll imagine things to be a million times better than they are. It’s just like the time that I came back to Nigeria for Boarding School and for some reason believed that I would have a large en suite room with an amazing bathroom and wardrobe. When I got to the boarding house and saw the rows of wooden bunk beds, I wonder what was running through my head. Actually my brain must have been completely blank at the time. I guess, my imagination ran wild so that I could brace myself for such a big change. Anyway, I don’t know how big I thought the camp was because I was expecting to see bungalows, instead, I saw a large, three storey building.
I bought an airline ticket the day before call to bar for the day after so I could fly out in the morning. N17,000. I was panicking because call to bar meant that I only had one more day to enrol at camp. According to the letter we printed out, corpers were given 2 days grace after the official date to show up to camp. People were cruising in later than the two days. If I had known, I would have taken ABC transport (a luxurious bus company) back to Lagos. There were more people than beds. People that didn’t want to stay didn’t have to come up with the most intelligent excuses to leave. Them leaving was the only way that others could get a space in camp.
I’m surprised I didn’t make up an excuse to leave. I know people who did. I was determined to stay for the entire period (minus a day). I’m lucky call to bar held me back a day because I was told that the registration process on the first day was long and tedious. I breezed in and it took a while to get a bed but it wasn’t too long.
Reading things online helped a bit but not all of the information applied to me. Due to what I had read, I was braced to carry my luggage on my head. That didn’t happen. Sometimes, when I’m really happy about something, a little bit of stupidity surfaces. Instead of me to have kept quiet, when I met the first soldier who inspected my luggage, I asked her whether I had to carry my luggage on my head. Smh. I was carrying just under 20kg of luggage having just come straight from the airport.
I did have a bit of trouble getting into the camp. It would have made more sense if the reason had been that a soldier had found contraband in my luggage or I didn’t have all the documents required to get in. My reason…. my head was hot. This was during the Ebola period so everyone going into camp had to get their temperature checked. The rest of my body was the normal temperature. My head didn’t get the memo. The fact that the sun was out with its heat in full force as usual didn’t help. I resorted to fanning my face and drinking water. It took a while before it went down.
When I did eventually get in, I got my reg number which determined what platoon I was in. I wasn’t as involved in my platoon as I could have been. I was interested in marching but I missed out because I didn’t hear the bugle being blown. I blame it on YouTube. Plus I didn’t have the guts to waltz back in the next day and continue marching.
The bunk beds. Made out of metal and shaky. Due to the number of people in camp, more beds kept on being added to the rooms. I ended on the top bunk. It wasn’t bad except for I was really close to the window and the mosquito net covering one window wasn’t great so I kept on getting bitten. It’s no shock that I caught malaria. The other window was covered by a mosquito net but big enough for a human to pass through. Good thing I don’t toss and turn at night. My things that I kept on my bed weren’t as lucky. My room was on the top floor so after I had climbed the steps and walked all the way to my room, I hopped onto my bed and somehow bent it like Beckham i.e. I booted my things out of the window and onto the ground.
The bathrooms were another story but my bathroom tales will be another time.