1st Journey: New York


My first trip to the U.S., happened in the summer of 2011. I had gotten my book: “The Artist at Work & Other Short Stories” published, and I believe the book was my good luck charm toward securing me the tourism visa I got from the American embassy in Abuja, Nigeria.

What a lot of Americans may or may not know is for an African obtaining a visa to come to the U.S. is kind of like the proverbial ‘letting a camel pass through the eye of a needle’. In other words, it’s very hard. Most often get turned down month after month. Attending my visa interview at the embassy building was almost like graduating from the university. It felt like pulling teeth. I couldn’t help but punch the air when I made it through.

At the time I was sill working for a French multinational oil company, but I quit last year when I decided to undertake my second amazing U.S. trip. I’ll tell you about it in a couple of fresh posts after this, though I hope you’ll all still be awake to hear it, ‘cos it’s a burn burner. Anyway, I came to the U.S. in June on a three-week trip. I spent my first three nights with a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a long time who resided in Mount Vernon, New York. We hopped on a MetroNorth train to the city and he showed me what most Africans back home only get to see about the U.S. in foreign movies.


New York City is great. It’s wonderful, and in the summer, lots of lovely things to see . . . and buy. But God knows, it’s not the sort of place for a foreigner to start a new life. Matter of fact, I’m surprised they still call it New York City. There ought to change its name to Tourism City. Almost everyone I passed on the street was a tourist, and carried a camera like I did. Couldn’t even ask for street directions because no one knew where they were going . . . yet they all looked lovely like there were out to somewhere. I kept asking my friend how come everyone’s dressed for a party, and we’re the only blokes who aren’t invited?

As a writer, I’ve grown to understand that I allow myself to soak up ideas much like the human body gets a twitch when responding to stimuli. America is a country I’d love to make as a second home, because everywhere I looked, the whole time I was there, something was happening. Activity was constant, and in that whirling constancy is where my Muse lies waiting. Back home, I never get this much influx of ideas. Everything’s pretty much the same. Everyone walks around with their problems. Most people have long forgotten how to laugh at a joke.


But I time in New York was memorable. Unfortunately I could only stay for three days before hopping on  a bus and heading up north to Maine, where a writer lady whom I’d being communicating with back home resided and was expecting me.




One comment on “1st Journey: New York

  1. Simon Rowe says:

    Your comments on travelling to a foreign land resonate. I have been living in Japan for 14 years, and like you, believe that when we are removed from the mundane, our writing flows faster and fresher. Keep up the good work Phil Oyok.

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