Culture, Ethnicity, Lifestyle, Religion

Nigerians and foreign first names – something dey worry una!

Usually, I do not care about whatever name a father decides to christen his child. He can name the child Hitler, Pol Pot, Anini or Ivan The Terrible; I don’t care. It’s none of my business. But when a loi-loi-eating Nigerian father looks down joyously upon his chortling newborn and decides to name him ‘Heineken’, then I’ve got to weigh in. 

Heineken. Really, daddy? A beer? Nine months in your tummy, mummy, and you allow him name me after a beer? You guys might as well have named me 33. 

This Heineken chap; that is not his nickname or a term of endearment. No. It is the name on his birth certificate. Curiously, neither he nor his parents are German or Dutch. They are all proud Izon, or as popularly known, Ijaw.

By the way, I looked up the meaning of Heineken. It means “son of little Hein” (Henry). But I don’t think Heineken’s dad was named Hein. Nein. The man wasn’t little.

You see, in Africa, people’s names are not whimsical blasé appellations. We don’t wake up and name a child Hooty McOwlface. In Africa, people’s names have weight and depth, even a metaphysical import to them. Our names tell stories. They signal the culture, beliefs, circumstances of birth and hope for the future.

Now, there is also this bloke in another clan. His name is Pentecost. Like “the-day-of- Pentecost” Pentecost. His parents are devout. But not Pentecost. If he is spirit-filled, it is often with kai-kai. This bloke knows all the brothels and watering holes between Warri and Diobu Water Side. 

I love Ijaw people. I did my NYSC in riverine Bayelsa and it was one of the best times of my life. But there must be something evil in the water they drink. For why will proud tribespeople like the Ijaw rise and give their children such fiendishly hilarious names?  

Government. Advantage. Suffernomore. Thywillbedone, Election. Colonel. Consider. Inspector. Appearance. Boysdaddy. UpJesus. 

UpJesus. I bet you were expecting to see ‘DownSatan’. I haven’t heard that one yet.

But, yup. Those names above are real names. Names people bear. 

I’ve got my beef with the Ijaws on naming. I do even more with Nigerians who give their scions Caucasian, Jewish or Arabic names. I’m gently miffed. What gives? I have never seen a Brit name his son Obunezi or an Israeli name his daughter Oyinkan. But this good Òduà tokàn tokàn sister from Oke Ila Orangun names her son Jayden. 

‘Jayden’ how? 

‘Arianna’ wetin? 

‘Shaun’…of the dead? 

‘Bella’? As in Bella Schmurda?

‘Jason’ Ekechukwu? Like Jason and the Argonauts? Jason Momoa? Jason Bourne?  

My homeboy named his son Xavier. Really, Rahim? Xavier. You might as well name the boy Wolverine. 

Look, I’m a Christian. I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. And I like the meaning of some Christian names. But I’m not from Jabesh-Gilead or Kiriath-Jearim. I am Yoruba. Omo Káárò Ojíre. You are therefore never going to catch me naming my daughter Zoey, Seraphina or Naomi. African names are too rich, too cool and too unique to trade down to Lachelle. 

Oh, did I tell you how I named my second daughter? Here goes!

When my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, we wanted a name that was Yoruba, was uncommon, acknowledged God, and whose short form would be easy for everyone to pronounce. I know that’s a lot for a name to do. But the brief is the brief.  It was the same brief we followed in naming our first daughter so why should this be any different?  

As the self-professed creative in the union, I had to rise to the occasion. So, I journeyed once again into the creative ether. 

After many moons of wandering and discourses with the Muses, a name emerged from the spectral mist. 


That is the short form of Mapolongojesukakirigboboagbaye. 

It means “I will proclaim Jesus to the ends of the earth.”

I thought it was absolute aces. It was uncommon, it was Yoruba and it acknowledged Jesus. 

I came back to earth and presented it to my wife.

She cleared all the bottles of liquor in the house and muttered something about stabbing me in my sleep.

I took it she didn’t fancy being called Mummy Polongo.

She marched me back to the Muses. Me and them dey craze together. 


Maybe you are one of those who don’t see anything good in Nigeria. Or one of those who signal their ‘exposure’ and contemporariness in the inability of their children to speak a local language. I know folks like that.

“Nne, Chucka can’t speak Igbo. He only speaks English and he’s taking Spanish classes. Let’s not confuse him,” she says with a conceited air to her mother.  

Shame on you, Adaeze! 

Your son will never be English enough for the English. Even if he dines with world leaders and has dual citizenship, they’ll still ask him “But where are you really from?” 

I get it, though. In an increasingly globalised world, we don’t want our children’s names to give their ethnicity away. Racism and profiling is a real thing. Names can be a crutch. I understand all these. But I fear we are throwing the baby away with the bath water. Our name is who we are. Opting for a Caucasian name is another form of colonization. It’s mild colonization but colonization nevertheless. At any rate, if white folks can pronounce Giannis Antetokounmpo and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, they can also pronounce Chimagozielam Bunkechukwu. All is fair in love and war. 

Before I go, did I tell you guys the beautiful name my grandfather gave me?

It is Ògúnmódedé.

It means “Ogun (Yoruba god of iron) has brought a hunter.”

The older members of my extended family fondly call me Bàbá Odę (Chief Hunter)

Man, I love the names! I am the hunter of hunters, the stalker of stalkers, the abitoshaker and ganduka-gandusha! Best respect me. 

My grandfather and his fathers hunted game in the presumably haunted forests of South West Nigeria. I imagine they encountered many goblins, sprites and deadly beasties. But thanks to Ògún, their lives and livelihoods were preserved. 

I do not believe in Ògun anymore than I believe in Zeus or Odin. But my forebears have no such intellectual and Christian encumbrances. For them, Ògun was real. And he had brought them another huntsman. But great must have been their tears in Òrùn Alàkeji when they saw me trade potent amulets, daggers and guns for a life of segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Sorry, grandfather. Civet and snake meat are not my thing. I prefer sirloin.  

In a world with cool names like Mmesoma, Chelchi, Kiitan, Fiyin, Toni and Boma, you decide Keisha and Rhonda are finer names. Something dey do you, aunty.

Culture, Lifestyle

Living on the Island and Nigerians’ warped definition of quality of life.

So, I find myself moving to the ‘Island.’

I enjoy going to the Island now and then but never fancied living in that neck of the woods. I’d lived all my years on the ‘Mainland’. I love it there. Life is simple, inexpensive and less vainglorious. In contrast, I esteemed the Island as extortionate, bougie and full of affectation. But I don’t beef the place or the people. I’ve got peeps who live there. You do you and I’ll do me. Horses for courses.

Then Island people started denigrating the Mainland. They created a condescending dichotomy. They were the bourgeois. We were the place Mufasa warned Simba never to go – a sunless, joyless land. We became the ‘Mainland people.’

Mainland people? You hypocrites! Many of you sprouted from the Mainland, some of you from places like Akute-Alagbole, Oke-Koto, Cemetery or Abaranje. Now your bougie butts no longer ‘do bridges’? You pharisaical faux-elite gits!

I was wroth indeed.

So, a silent war ensued between us the Mainlanders and they the Islanders. A war whose chief weapons were snide remarks and deprecation. They speak in a patronising manner about the Mainland and we in turn tell them to return to Atlantis. Naturally, as a Mainland boy, I took sides with my kith and kin in the war. Forza Mainland!

But here I am, now living on the Island. I sold out.

Now, before some of you think I have come into money and want a rummage in my pocket, no, I have not stumbled on some lucre. I moved to the Island for a practical reason; I simply could not afford a house on the Mainland in the areas I liked. I lived in Omole Phase 1, a very nice gated community. The houses are well-spaced. That means you can’t extend your hand from your window to help your neighbour unhook her bra. And we enjoyed at least twenty-one hours of power at N80/kilowatt.

But a four-bedroom semi-detached duplex in Omole Phase 1 is upwards of N250m. I don’t have that sort of moolah. The other nice places I’d prefer to live were Magodo Phase 2, Ikeja GRA and Shonibare Estate. But those places cost a king’s ransom. Properties in those areas will set you back some N400m to N600m.

So, yeah. I moved to the island because I haven’t got quite enough dosh to be posh and have less dough than a Pizza Hut.

But isn’t it ironic? How houses on the much-maligned Mainland can be more expensive than houses on the Island?

Oh, lest I forget. There is an important bifurcation to make. There are people who live ‘on an island’ and people who live ‘on the Island.’ I’ll explain.

See, if you don’t live in Ikoyi, Banana Island, Victoria Island or Lekki Phase 1, you don’t live ‘on the Island.’ You live ‘on an island.’ Don’t let’s pack luru with shapa.

Now, if you live between Marwa and Chisco, an area encompassing Elf, Ikate, Chisco, Ilasan and Salem, you live on an island. You are the broke cousin of Mayweather. You are still a Mayweather and can be ringside. But you are not Floyd.

Hang tight. It gets dire.

If you live at Igbokusu, Jakande First Gate, Jakande Round-About, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Orchid, Idado and Chevron, your residency in Lagos is tenuous. You need to verify your bona fides with LASRRA.

Igbokusu, Ologolo, Agungi, Igbo-Efon, Idado? Really? And some of you have the shamelessness to mock Onipetesi, Oke-Ira, Alakuko, Arepo and Mungoro?

But it gets worse. If you live anywhere between Eleganza, Ikota School, Ikota Bridge, Mega Chicken, Ikota First Gate, Ikota Second Gate, VGC, Ilaje and Ajah, you need to recheck your deed of assignment. They sold you a house in Ondo State.

And suppose for some reason your house happens to be at Ajah, Badore, Okun-Ajah, Sangotedo, Bogije, Abijo, Lakwe, Langbasa or along Ogombo Road; in that case, Nigerian Immigration will need to see your Nigerian visa or passport before you can cross into Ajah. You, my friend, do not live in the Federal Republic. You are to Nigeria what El Paso and Tijuana are to the United States.

Now, before you guys wield your pitchforks and you ladies get on your brooms, know that myself, per my delineation, barely live in Lagos too. All of us are faux big boys together. But that is not to say there are no nice places after Lekki Phase 1. I like the houses and layout in NICON Town, Pinnock Estate, Cowrie Creek Estate, Friends Colony and some estates that dot the Island.

Anyway, I was going to contrast living on the Mainland with living on the Island (make I sha call all of us Islanders bebe). I have lived in this neck of the woods for two months now and have mixed feelings.

One of the vaunted propositions in favour of living on the Island over the Mainland is the former’s purported high quality of life index. On the Island, there are many nice places to go, many nice things to do and many nice companies to keep.

Only nobody told me there were nice prices to pay too.

The Island is soooo expensive!

I can’t have a good meal on the Island without paying upwards of N6,000. And that’s at Foodies or Amala Sky. If it’s at Cafeteria, Cilantro, Eric Kayser or the like, bless your soul, it will be upwards of N14,000. The other day the missus and I went to a Nigerian restaurant in Lekki Phase 1. We ordered what they labelled ‘complete Fisherman Soup’ and pounded yam. The soup alone was N23,000 per person.

Now, people, when a Fisherman Soup costs N23,000 per person, I expect it to contain all the works: a mermaid, a Kraken, the crab in Moana and maybe the fisherman himself. But what did we get? A mediocre catfish, a crab on minimum wage, two punny snails and shrimps that failed prawn test.

God bless Ola-Oluwa Jollof and Amala Amoke.

The pricing on the Island is a mugging. The other day, I bought a pack of Mentos chewing gum at Ebeano in Lekki for N3,450. The same gum was N2,050 at the Ebeano in Ikeja GRA. It was N1,880 at Grand Square Supermarket in Ikeja. I pay N220/kilowatt for electricity that’s not up to thirteen hours. Anini and Monday Osunbor no rob pass this before them face firing squad!

And I don’t want to hear the bunkum about rent and the cost of operation on the Island being higher than on the Mainland. It’s utter tosh. When big retail chains buy goods, they buy in bulk to distribute across their stores. They thus negotiate better pricing from suppliers. This naturally should result in better prices or the same prices for the consumers across their stores. But no, sellers on the Island enjoy bloodletting. They bleed us and collect our blood to drink with their meals.

The reason for this price gouging is because of the vanity on the Island. Island people don’t seem to care about high prices. Dudes and dudettes roll into supermarkets, restaurants and lounges in their Mercedes and Lexuses and strut about as if money is no object.

Not me. You can’t mug me with my permission. Don’t give me Titus egg and call it caviar.

I hear this attitude of suffering and smiling is rife on the Island. According to friends who have lived longer on the Island, the perception is that when you complain about prices, it shows that you can’t afford the lifestyle and maybe shouldn’t be living here.

Una papa!

Look, I know what I spend my money on. I’m more likely to travel to Tromsø to see the northern lights or take the Shinkansen to Kobe to eat wagyu than show I’m doing well by buying overpriced chewing gums.

Besides, it’s all hypocritical codswallop. If all these people can afford the pricey lifestyle, they shouldn’t buy food and groceries from Mushin and Mile 12 markets. Abi them no dey sell goat meat and garri on the Island?

But the condescension on the Mainland is pervasive.

A few years ago, a friend and I were going to buy Coke from a hawker on Water Corporation Drive in Victoria Island. I like those glacial-type Coke that hawkers carry. The woman priced the Coke at N200. We baulked. Coke was N100 on the Mainland at the time. We told the woman we were only going to pay N100. She retorted.

“Eyin ara Mainland ti de O.”

In pidgin, it means “You Mainland people don come be dat O!”

It was unbelievable. Just because we haggled over the price she made us out. She instantly knew we were from the Mainland. Island people don’t haggle over prices.

She sold the Coke to us at N100 with a smile that implied ‘game recognises game.’

And oh yeah, there’s the issue of potable water

At Omole Phase 1, we cook, brush our teeth and do our laundry with the water straight from the tap. We didn’t have to install missile-looking filters in our backyard. We didn’t have to run dialysis for the water with a Reverse Osmosis machine.

My fellow Islanders, that type of water is called potable water. And it runs bounteously on the Mainland. You can drink it if you want. You won’t kick the bucket. But bless your soul if you drink the water straight from your borehole in Lekki. There will be a service of songs for you with sweet puff-puff.

I used to mock a friend who lived on the Island but always brought jerrycans along to my house to fetch water. What ridiculousness! How can you not use the water in your house? You are in Lekki, for Pete’s sake, not Kolokuma-Opokuma.

Now, the joke is on me. While the water coming out of my tap appears clean, I still had to construct a mini Water Works behind my apartment. That Reverse Osmosis machine isn’t cheap. And it requires quarterly servicing.

If this Lekki doesn’t kill me, nothing else will.

Why are there so many urchins and area boys on the Island?

Let me tell you what else is not a high quality of life: the innumerable company of urchins, homeless people and area boys! The place is festering with them! Yes, we have urchins and area boys on the Mainland. But this is ‘the Island.’ It is supposed to be premium! When you live in a premium place abroad, you enjoy peace, quiet and security. Not urchins deluging cars at traffic stops and constituting a menace. My wife has panic attacks when these vermin swarm her car. Freedom Way, Chisco Junction and Jakande First Gate are hotspots. The number is incredible.

When we were moving our stuff to the Island, we had to make provisions for area boys. No mattress or sofa can get into the Island without paying area boys. They man every street and every junction. It’s ridiculous. I’ve never had to contend with such brazen extortion on the Mainland.

The scary thing is that this innumerable company of urchins and area boys live in shanties and abetes that neighbour well-off areas. They are a time bomb. A friend who lives in one of the nicer estates told me that during the END SARS protest, his estate had to contribute money to give to the urchin kingpins, so the urchins and touts would not swarm the estate and loot it. Incredulous!

Traffic congestion

One other thing that has not endeared the Island to me so far is the insufferable traffic. It takes about fifteen minutes for me to get to Victoria Island from my office on the Mainland. But between the Lekki Phase 1 Toll Gate and House On The Rock Church, it’s absolute bedlam. This distance is less than two kilometres but could take you more than thirty minutes. If you live on Orchid Road or drive from Ajah, you’ll be a year older by the time you get into VI. The illusion I had about better traffic on the Island was dispelled. December was harrowing for me.

The result of this traffic has to be overpopulation surely. The inconvenient truth is that the Island is densely populated. The Atlantic is on one side and the lagoon is on the other. It is just a long strip of land crammed with people. From the number of cars I see on the road, there must be five billion people living here.

The Island’s false notion of a high quality of life.

The WHO defines quality of life (QoL) as “an individual’s perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns.”

Per Wikipedia, standard indicators of quality of life include wealth, employment, the environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, social belonging, religious beliefs, safety, security and freedom.

Perception of high (or low) quality of life is subjective. There are no quantitative measures for it only anecdotal evidence. Thus, the claim that the Island has a higher quality of life than the Mainland is indefensible. What matters to people varies. No doubt the Island knocks the Mainland out of the park in recreation and leisure. It has many fancy restaurants, bars, lounges and beaches. You’ll also find better-paying jobs and opportunities on the Island. But living outside the Island, and even Lagos, can also offer a high quality of life. I’d love to retire to some rural place with lots of green, clean air and no noise. A simple cottage close to a stream, river or ocean. Yam and pepper sauce for breakfast and pounded yam and antelope in the afternoon. Then in the evening, I’ll drive to my homie’s house in my Wrangler Jeep to eat fish peppersoup with half-ripe plantain. That’s a high quality of life for me. But to you, it may be access to a N200K bottle of Casamigos at Quilox or eating a N65K seafood platter. Again horses for courses. But remember, quality of life is subjective.

So, which is better, the Mainland or the Island?

Neither. Both have their merits and disadvantages. I don’t mind living on the Island. I don’t have buyer’s remorse buying a house here. But what I won’t have is you lot deriding and slandering the Mainland. Especially from you broke, fake-bougie ignoramuses still paying rent on the Island. The Mainland rocks. The Island rocks. It all depends on which Dwayne Johnson you like.

Happy New Year folks!

Lifestyle, Travel

Our man in Cancun. Quintana Roohoo!

So, that was me worshipping at the Temple of Kukulcán at Chichén Itzá, Mexico.

If you look closely at the top of the pyramid, you will see the feathered serpent god Kukulcán slithering down the steps. If you can’t see him, that’s because you are not spirit-filled. Nothing a few shots of tequila can’t fix, however.

But you can’t go to Cancun without going up to Chichén Itzá. It’s a touristy thing to do. But mi gente, we were turistas.

We’ll get back to Chichén Itzá shortly. First, Cancun.

Oh, I can get used to Cancun.

I have a love-hate relationship with any body of water. But Cancun put me at ease. The powdery-sand beaches. The turquoise waters. The promise of a million tacos and toothsome enchiladas. Oh yea, I can get used to Cancun.

Right from the Cancun International Airport, the missus’ mood brightened. The Arrivals area was clean, modern and efficient. The border control officers were courteous and professional. The airport experience was a stark contrast to the one in Havana.

But once you clear Immigration and Customs at Cancun International Airport, it is bedlam. You are besieged by a deluge of salespeople offering you time shares, tour packages, car rentals and taxi rides. It can be overwhelming to the unprepared. But me, I’d pored over several YouTube videos and read a tonne about Cancun. I knew what to expect.

A simple advice: don’t sign up for any timeshares, presentations or take a taxi from one of the taxi hawks at the airport. Pre-arrange your taxi. Your hotel can help you out or you can book online. The taxis at the airport will gouge you so deeply, you’ll think you’ve been mauled by a tiger. These dudes can charge you between $80 — $100 for the 20-minute ride to the Hotel Zone. The ride costs no more than $35 in a private shuttle. If you are sharing the shuttle with other travellers, it’ll be around $15 per rider. I’d pre-booked our hotel transfer before arrival. I was in no mood for charity.

Let me tell you about a little hustle the missus fell for.

While waiting for our hotel transfer, Mrs Alade thought she’d cool her heels at Air Margaritaville, an open-air bar outside the Arrivals area. I chose to stand around and look out for our shuttle. As an Agege boy pulling himself up by his Timberland bootstraps, I have developed finely tuned nostrils for sniffing out a bad deal or a rip-off. And that Air Margaritaville smelled more like Mugsville. A bar in the waiting area of an airport in a city that thrives on tourism can’t charge a monk price. But Mrs Alade is not from the streets. She sat in a comfy chair and ordered a pina colada.

It was $45.

Excluding tip.

When we were in Miami, against my hesitance, the missus had also made us go into a cute ice cream parlour on Ocean Drive. It was our first time in Miami and on Ocean Drive. But again, I’d watched so many videos and read so much about Miami. Ocean Drive is not where you go if you have money you don’t want to spend. But how can we come to Miami and not go to Ocean Drive? Instagram might even sue us.

The missus ordered the smallest ice cream serving for one. Some flavour I’d never heard of. It was $19.50. Excluding tip. She said the ice cream was nice.

It’ll be nice if she doesn’t bankrupt me.

But I digress. Back to Cancun.

Getting into Mexico was simple. Unlike Cuba, I didn’t have to write to the United Nations about where and how to get a Mexican tourist visa. As a Nigerian citizen, you need a visa to visit Mexico. But getting a visa is easy. You apply to the Mexico Embassy in Abuja in person, and if all goes well, the visa is issued the same day. But we didn’t need to apply for a visa. Because if you have a US visa (of any type) or a Schengen, UK, Canada or Japan visa, you do not need a visa to visit Mexico. Just buy your plane ticket and you’ll be por favor-ing in no time.

Now, we could have flown directly from Havana to Cancun — a 1hr 45m hop. But the only direct flight was at 8:30 pm and on the poorly reviewed Mexican airline Aeromar. Call me cowardly, but I didn’t fancy a night flight between two third-world countries over the Caribbean Sea on an airline people thought was absolute crap. I read reviews a lot. I once bought a bicycle for my daughter that had a terrible review but hoped the buy would turn out right. It didn’t. It broke on the first day of riding. So, I decided to be safe than sorry. We opted to fly back to Miami and from Miami fly to Cancun.

Hotel Zone or Downtown Cancun?

What is special about Cancun anyway?

You mean apart from the turquoise beaches, forgetting all your worries and the enchantment of a Mexican society? Nothing really.

Cancun exists for tourism. That’s probably a discrediting thing to say about the nice and hardworking Mexicans who live in the city. Sure, Mexican folks live and work in the city long before hotels and resorts sprang up. But Mexican folks also live and work in Hidalgo del Parral. Nobody waxes lyrical about Hidalgo del Parra. Mexico has a lot of jungles and scorched earth. Not Cancun. It chose a nice spot on the Caribbean shores. On waters with delightful shades of blue where you can snorkel with turtles. Right from its mother’s womb, Cancun knew what it wanted to be.

Cancun is divided into two areas: the Zona Hotelera or Hotel Zone, and Downtown Cancun or El Centro.

The Hotel Zone is a narrow 22.5-km-strip on the Caribbean shores. It is dotted with hotels, resorts, villas, waterfront restaurants, nightlife and other attractions. It is the Cancun people have in mind when they think “Cancun.” The Cancun 23 million tourists visited in 2019. It is the Cancun 25 million people would have visited by the end of 2022.

Our hotel was in the Hotel Zone, the Beachscape Kin Ha Villa & Suites. Not too shabby. It claims to have the best natural beach in the whole of Cancun. It may well have. The beach was powdery white sand and the water was crystal turquoise. No dangerous undertow. No churning waves. Our homely one-bedroom apartment was only 40 meters away from the beach. I walked about two kilometres every morning on the beach, the clear water caressing my feet and darting back. I’m loving it in Mehico!

Downtown Cancun or El Centro (City Centre) is where the locals live. The real Cancun. The hotels here are cheaper and it is where you stay if you want to experience authentic Mexican living. This is where you’ll find the Walmarts, the iHops, and McDonald’s. It is also where you should go to buy souvenirs and eat inexpensive authentic Mexican meals. We booked a one-night stay in Downtown Cancun just to see what the place was like. It was a decent hotel. But I didn’t come all the way to Cancun to do decent. It is the Hotel Zone for me.

Beaches in Cancun

Strictly speaking, all beaches in Cancun are public (federal property). However, the beaches in the Hotel Zone have been appropriated by the numerous hotels, resorts and villas that line them. Each section of the beach now “belongs” to the hotel behind it. On paper, you can walk through any hotel lobby and onto the beach. The hotels that allow that might require a minimum purchase of beverages. And you can’t use the beach umbrellas, chairs or loungers for free. But not to worry. There are over 11 public beaches in Cancun. You can check them out here.

Getting around in Cancun.

Now, if Elon Musk or Bill Gates ever became broke, it’ll be because they took taxis in Cancun. In Mexico, you don’t need to join the Sinaloa Cartel to be rich. You only need to be a taxi driver in Cancun. The taxi drivers reason that if you are a tourist, you must have money and are entitled to rummage in your pocket.

How expensive are the taxis?

So, one day, Mrs Alade sent me to get some groceries. I walked to the Chedraui Supermarket about three hundred meters from the hotel. It was a walking distance. I’d planned on walking back to the hotel after the shopping. But the sun in Mexico is scorching and I was toting groceries in both hands. I decided to take a taxi.

I went to the taxi ramp at the supermarket. A taxi driver asked me to pay MX$200 pesos ($20). I baulked. He then reduced it to $15. No, can’t do. Adiós amigo. $15 for a 300-metre ride was simply unconscionable.

There was a bus stop across from the supermarket. I recalled the airport shuttle driver telling us we can get up and down the Hotel Zone for $1 on designated buses. I decided to give the bus a try. I waited alongside godly Mexicans. A few minutes later the bus arrived. I got in. It was $1 and it dropped me in front of my hotel less than a minute later.


Needless to say, I never took a registered taxi in Cancun.

There is Uber in Mexico. But in Cancun, Uber drivers are endangered species. They are frequently assaulted by taxi drivers. All the Uber I took were so secretive, they wouldn’t come into the hotel to pick me up. They’ll park outside the hotel or mall and ask me to get into the car as if I was an acquaintance. On a few occasions, I had to walk a few blocks to get into the Uber to protect the driver from being seen by taxi drivers.

The police are no help. They look away. One of the Uber drivers told me the taxi union and the police break bread together.

So, beware if you want to take Uber in Cancun. If you don’t like intrigue and subterfuge, just fork out for the shylock taxis. Or you can get around like most locals do: on the bus. The R2 bus for the Hotel Zone and the R1 for beyond. It’s clean and safe. And it is $1. Getting on the bus makes you look less touristy.

In the Hotel Zone, people struggle to keep their clothes on. Young dudes go shirtless and dudettes spot bikinis. Even in supermarkets. I thought about going around only in my beach shorts too. But I didn’t want to scare children.

Souvenirs and Mercado 28.

Well, I couldn’t go to Mexico and not bring home souvenirs. For me, that was a sombrero, a poncho, some glow-in-the-night ghoulish t-shirts and a Mayan hand-crafted leather backpack. And of course, tequila. This is the spiritual home of the tequila. I like to think that Mexicans consider poor tequila a national affront.

The place to get souvenirs in Cancun is Mercado 28 or Market 28, in Downtown Cancun.

There are shops that sell souvenirs in the Hotel Zone. But expectedly, they are expensive and the choice is limited. What you need to do is to head to Downtown Cancun, to Mercado 28. Take the R2 bus that plies the Hotel Zone ($1) and tell the driver your stop is Mercado 28. He’ll drop you off at a bus stop called Mercado 28.

But beware! At the bus stop, there are lots of shops selling souvenirs. But this is not Mercado 28. Many tourists have taken this array of shops to be Mercado 28 and have bought souvenirs there at high prices. Me, I’d read a lot about Cancun to know the real Mercado 28 was just a few minute’s walk from the bus stop. It has Mercado 28 written boldly on the wall. I knew what to look out for. I’d read a lot about Cancun, I could run for its Mayor.

But alas! The glow-in-dark t-shirts do not glow in the dark but glow only under certain coloured lights. So be warned. But I like the ghoulish tees enough to rock them without the glow. I’ll wear them to church for Communion Service.

Food court at Mercado 28

Chichén Itzá

Right. Chichén Itzá

Remember the Mel Gibson flick Apocalypto? That was the Mayan people. And the city of the marauding warriors could as well have been Chichén Itzá.

The Mayan people and civilization included several city-states that extended all the way to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize. Chichén Itzá was one of the biggest and more prosperous cities. It dates back to 400 AD. In 1998, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and voted as one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ in a 2007 global survey.

Going to Cancun and not going to Chichén Itzá is like going to London and not eating fish and chips. It’s ridiculous, verging on the sacrilegious even. We had to go learn more about the Mayans.

Mexico may have some amazing beaches. But it also has some great archaeological sites. Chichén Itzá sits at the top of the pile and is still an active archaeological site. The fact that it is 193 miles from Cancun makes it one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.

We went on a group tour. The tour bus picked us up in front of the hotel at 5:30 am. Yea, 5:30 am. It needed to be this early to make the rounds to pick up other tourists at their hotels. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and hilarious. He was of Mayan descent and was effusive about Mayan history. You gotta toot your horn I say.

As the crow flies, Chichén Itzá is a 2:30hr-drive from Cancun. We made a short detour to the 16th-century town of Valladolid. We then stopped over at a Mayan village for lunch, tequila tasting and some Mayan crafts. On our way back, we visited a cenote for a quick swim.


Now, let me warn you: Chichén Itzá is hot! I mean, this is right in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula. Please go along with sunblock (sunscreen lotion) or a small umbrella. And dress lightly and comfortably. Sneakers and sandals are your best friend. You can of course wear your stiletto or oxfords if you want. But you’ll probably die and be buried in the bushes.

Right. Meet Rodolfo and Flavia. They are an Argentine couple. We met at the cenote.

Flavia came over to where Mrs Alade and I were sitting and began touching Mrs Alade’s skin! What in the world! Then she beckoned to her husband. Rodolfo came over with a big embarrassed smile as if to apologise for his wife’s lack of discretion. But Flavia didn’t care. She was just gushing over the missus’ taught skin. She touched my cheeks too.

Normally, I should have been incensed at this invasion of our space and seeming inappropriateness. I could convince my brain to dredge up Argentina’s detestable history with black people. But not everything in the world is about sexism or racism. I didn’t sense disrespect from these two people. Rather, there was warmth and affection towards us.

Turned out they were admiring our skin. Oh yea, black is beautiful. We age well. Flavia was telling Rodolfo how beautiful and smooth Mrs Alade’s skin was. She wished she had such skin. She wished she was young again. The couple were in their mid-sixties. They’d been married close to forty years.

Rodolfo knew only a few words in English. Flavia was hopeless with English. So we communicated through Google Translate. They told us that their children had left home and they were just travelling some. They invited us to visit them in Argentina. We would not pay for a hotel. They have rooms to spare and would love to host us. We exchanged numbers and got into our respective tour buses.

That’s what I like about travelling. You meet the most amazing people.

I’ve got to know Rodolfo and Flavia a little more. During the just concluded World Cup in Qatar, we texted one another when Argentina was playing. I shared in their tenterhooks in the finals between Argentina and France. I was chatting with both Rodolfo and Flavia on their separate mobile numbers. The chatter was relentless. When Argentina went up 2–0, I could sense Flavia doing cartwheels. When France equalized, Flavia cursed some patron saint. Luckily Argentina won. Flavia sent me a video of Rodolfo on the streets with an Argentina flag singing merrily. They both reminded me of their invitation to visit. It still stands. Flavia was one of the first people to send me a Happy New Year greeting.

Argentina is not on my list of places to see soon. But I confess that I am now seriously thinking about it.

There ends the account of our Mexican trip. I’m remiss we didn’t make the short trip to Tulum. Mexico, you haven’t seen the last of me! I’ll be back!

And oh, here’s the birthday girl once again!

Culture, Faith, Lifestyle

Gen Y, Gen Z and general degeneracy.

“What is called Western Civilization is in an advanced state of decomposition, and another Dark Ages will soon be upon us, if, indeed, it has not already begun. With the Media, especially television, governing all our lives, as they indubitably do, it is easily imaginable that this might happen without our noticing…by accustoming us to the gradual deterioration of our values.” – Malcolm Muggeridge


Watch African American stand-up comedy for only a few minutes and you’ll realise it’s not what you watch with kids around. There is no two-minute period without the copious use of expletives. Communication is impossible in that genre without profanity.

Now, I don’t have a brittle spirit. Nor am I pharisaical. I just hate having to explain what ‘coochie’ is to a 10-year-old. I assure you it is no laughing matter. 

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