As an individual whose limited funds can only permit a trip down the stairs, it’s a little hard to relate to the subject of this week’s Abroad Life – Dexter. Dexter can not sit still! He’s constantly switching continents like they’re running out of style and has so far visited 11 countries, with no plans to slow down.
I originally set up the call to ask him to show boys the way, but somehow figured squeezing an Abroad Life out of his experiences continent-hopping, would be more worthwhile. Here’s what he has to say about travelling the world:
So let’s start with a game. Tell me a random fact about any country you’ve visited and I’ll try to guess what country it is.
Hmm, let me see. This country has a lot of dogs without owners walking its streets. And weirdly, more flags than cars.
Easy stuff. In this country, if there’s no bingo on your street, it isn’t popping. Plus everything from churches to car dealerships have flags. Is it the country currently preventing me from living my maximum baby girl life — Nigeria?
Haha. Close. But the answer is actually Istanbul-Turkey. You are going to find dogs on the streets, dogs on the expressway. Dogs chilling in groups, like organising their own little party and hanging out. Dogs just everywhere. And for some reason, they have a ton of flags in Turkey. It’s the weirdest thing.
Oh wow. That’s a red flag from Turkey and I’m not talking about its national symbol. Now speaking of countries, how many have you visited so far?
Wait, give me one second to count.
Okay Mr. Gates, I’ll wait.
Oh geez! So I’ve been to the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, The Netherlands, Ireland, Turkey, Ghana, Czech Republic, France, UAE and Belgium. So eleven countries so far.
Got it!. Speaking of countries, when I checked in last week, you had just landed Dubai. It’s been seven days and now you’re in Ireland, and you mentioned Spain next week before this interview started proper. What manner of flex is this?
Haha. Not a flex, just ultimately, we serve a living God you know.
Hmm. This next question is going to determine a lot for me. So you’ve been to eleven countries, but what’s the shade of your passport?
See! My passport is a climate passport — very green and very Nigerian.
That’s it. What’s your baba’s number and does he accept initial deposits?
Haha. No jazz here, just a lot of research before applying for visas, learning about the process, what mistakes to avoid.
Any cheat codes you can share with me… sorry us?
Haha. There aren’t any cheat codes, if I’m being honest. Some days it’s easy, other days it feels like all your village people are staring you down and saying: “So you think you want to travel abi?” Plus, it definitely gets easier to get visas approved when you’ve visited a certain number of countries. So it swings.
Got it. Now let’s get into the ease of travel. What is the absolute worst place to attempt to get a visa as a Nigerian national?
Without a doubt, Indonesia.
Go off with this drag!
My friends and I were planning to go to Indonesia in the summer of 2020. While I was doing some research for the group, we found that Nigerians need to get a ‘Calling visa’ that’s a special approval from the immigration boss in Indonesia’s capital – Jakarta.
Then we also had to find a sponsor who would be an Indonesian citizen or permanent resident, who would then be required to go for their own interview too.
That’s a bit … much
It is. My friends and I didn’t feel welcome, so we won’t be going there anymore.
So who’s winning second runner-up in difficult places to get visas?
Funny enough, that would be the UK, and it’s weird because I’ve been there a few times. When I was denied an English visa one time, I was abroad. So I had to come back to Nigeria, write new letters to the British High Commission and get supporting documents to prove why I needed the visa again.
It really was at the time. It was long, hard and expensive, but it was kind of worth it at the end.
So, let’s flip it. What’s the easiest place to get a visa?
Definitely The Netherlands, and it was because it was so organised and the consular officers were genuinely so helpful.
Actually wait, let me think on it. I think Turkey wins this one.
Guess how long it took me to apply for my visa and have it approved?
Hm. Add Nigerian passport, multiply with young man without a nuclear family waiting on him. Double bracket Nigerian luck with immigration, I’d say a month at best.
Haha. Try forty minutes!
You lie Dexter!
No really, I applied online and the visa was sent to my email in forty minutes.
And you were in Nigeria when this happened?
Well no, I was in Scotland. But I don’t know if that played a role in it. Easiest process ever!
If you had to name it, what’s one country that has almost made you hang up your travelling boots for good?
I don’t have to think too far about this. The Czech Republic. It’s definitely the last place I’d have expected, but the city of Prague is so gorgeous, it almost hurts your eyes to look at it. It’s historic, it has all these colourful buildings and gothic churches. I can’t adequately describe it. It’s one of those places you have to see for yourself.
*Mumbles ‘God have you heard?’ quietly.*
So if we held a competition in your belly, what country is winning for having the best food?
Alright, let me start with a disclaimer. I love Nigerian food, and that probably wins my heart. But you see french food? It hits the spot.
Oh you fancy huh?
Haha. Potatoes dauphinoise is my ultimate weakness. It’s sliced potatoes in milk and cream, it’s heaven My happy place is any restaurant in Paris.
Alright Fancy. What country have you visited and at the end of it, you had to cover your wallet with the blood?
Not sure if I should give this to England or France. But I’d say Paris, France. Hmm. Let’s leave it at that.
Understood! Now, the winner of The Most Advanced Country you’ve visited goes to…
Germany! Their train system is almost 99.9% precise. They have 2019 Benzes for transportation. You can’t get that in every market!
Nope, you can’t.
And then where I stayed, I was blown away with the shower experience. Water came directly from the ceiling. It was just a whole other feel.
Who’s winning the worst country you’ve ever visited?
I don’t want to name any names, but Poland!
Uh-oh, what happened there?
I was visiting Germany at the time when my German friend and I just randomly decided to visit Poland. It’s about seven hours by road, so we thought why not. Let me just cut the long story, and say I didn’t feel welcome when we got there and there was some obvious racism.
Oh okay, didn’t know we would be cancelling Poland when this interview started, but here we are. So sorry you had to go through that.
Bringing it back home to where you’re always welcome. What country have you visited that’s most similar to Nigeria?
Definitely Ghana. That’s a no-brainer!
Now speaking of home, Ireland is currently it for you. How did that come about?
Well, first off, Ireland is just one of those gorgeous countries. It has a fantastic countryside. I write sometimes, so it’s very inspiring to have that view to tap into. Also, it’s a European country that speaks English, and I really appreciate not having to learn another language to live somewhere. Plus, I went to school here and it was just easy to make the transition into working here.
But I’ll say this, Ireland is home… but just for now.
Ajala, Ajala. So last question, where do you see yourself by the end of 2020?
Err, probably in Nigeria with family for the holidays or in Thailand holidaying with the love of my life. We’ll see.
Okay ladies, now is the time to get in formation.
Want more Abroad Life? Check in every Friday at 12 PM (WAT) for a new episode. Until then, read every story of the series here.