I drove to Missouri again today, the second time I’m doing so in the last one year. The state border is only twenty minutes away from my location. This time however, unlike the last time where I had to take a sick friend to the Barnes Jewish hospital, I was visiting in order to perfect my driving and adjustment to American road and rule system. For that, I had to drive almost around the state making sure that I tested myself on each type of road and driving conditions. Traveling with a University professor, mentor on and off the wheels, the trip took much of the whole day, going through a few major towns in the state. Missouri is famous not just for the St. Louis Gateway Arch and the Mississippi river but a whole lot of historical hotspots including Mark Twain’s famous residence, the site of the brutal fighting of the American civil war, the famous Route 66 among many others.
One of the places visited today was the Missouri Welcome Centre, a one-stop shop for every tourist destination in the state. Then I visited the city of Manchester where we’d gone to check up a few books at the Borders Bookstore. Borders is one of America’s largest bookstores. The only Nigerian books there were two new reprints of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, a different cover edition of Purple Hibiscus and another one of Half of a Yellow Sun. There was no Soyinka or any of the other contemporary names in Nigerian fiction. Well, I also found Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them, which is only proper since Oprah Winfrey had chosen it once as a Book Club Selection. There were a whole tonne of book on the other aisles though, and I had a good time browsing through a few of them
I was a Clayton, and a few other neighbourhoods in the city. Many of the pubs were closed for Labour Day. A few of them were still open, with considerable patronage. My own assessment of the driving exercise was that I’m now ready to take on the country. The downside is having to be in total control of a moving vehicle on such a busy highway as those around the midwest. Worse than Lagos in a few different ways, and better in a lot more, the main minus to driving is only the letting go of the ability to daydream for a few hours every day.