I love books. They are an essential part of my existence as a human being. I mean, there are several people I will exchange just for new books, topping that list are some of my exes and toenails of Satan ex-friends.
My love for books made me become a member of this bookclub. Actually, I thought I was joining a bookclub. Only to discover that the universe was just ushering me to my pre-reserved bed at the WhatsApp version of yabaleft(for the brethren who do not know what I mean, I am referring to a madhouse in Lagos, although the state itself is one giant madhouse). These brethren in there be mad for days.
I joined this bookclub and we became brethren and we went on a trip to the city of Akure, the capital city of Ondo State which is located in the South West of Nigeria, for a few days(from 24th-27th of June).
I went to bed the night before the trip thinking that somehow, I would wake up too late to meet the others at Ojota garage in Lagos. I even had to ask people to call me. I had just done about 14 hours on the road from Calabar to Lagos, sat at ABC park at Jibowu for about two hours waiting for the driver to come get me. By the time I got to the house, I just wanted to pass out and not wake up for days.
Homer called to wake me, then Ness called too. I had to drag myself out of bed. I got dressed in record time, grabbed my bag and headed off to Ojota.
At Ojota, I met Ness and the others who were coming from Lagos too. We paid 2050 naira each and the bus moved.
Now, I want to say I remember much of the trip but I slept for most of it, at least up until we got to Ore.
We spent about 5 hours from Lagos to Akure and got a beautiful welcome of hugs and Shammah’s cooking(some day I should write about the wonders this uncle performs with food. Fammmm! Anointed something).
Akure is the brother of Calabar, late risers for who the sunrise isn’t much more than a beautiful sight to behold as one stretches on his bed and tries to grab a few moments of sleep. I remember one morning, when I and a friend had to walk a little distance to find an open shop to purchase things and I smiled at how I was sure I would not have to do that in Lagos.
Akure is slower, a little bit ancient, but then there is something that looks like a mall(it’s actually a lot better than those things they call malls in Calabar and Umuahia). Not big, but I guess it’s better than large, sad open spaces that remind you of what used to stand on the grounds on which the malls were built and make you wonder if it was worth it.
The air is also different. There is this calmness about the city that makes me want to relax and forget.
On the second day of our stay in Akure, some of us decided to go a-wandering. And we found ourselves taking a trip to Idanre Hills, also known as Oke-Idanre, located in the ancient town of Idanre, which is about 15 kilometers southwest of Akure.
I knew it was supposed to be high up there and the pathway to the top could be steep, but I guess my village people did something to my brain that made me somehow not clearly understand what I was getting into, till I heard, “it’s 660 steps to the top of the hill, and there are 5 resting points”.
Jesus Christ of Oyemekun! 600 and what?
This should have made me turn back but I decided to dare my village people and see.
50 steps into the climbing and I was lagging behind everyone, drenched in sweat and fighting to control my breath. Oh, in my defense, a heavy canon 60D was hanging from my left shoulder.
Shammah held my hands and walked with me, while every other person was doing “first to finish”. 300 steps in and I told Shammah to go on and leave me, I felt I could not make it up. He refused, bless his soul, and stuck by me till we made it to the top of one of the hills. And in that one moment, I was proud of myself.
I missed the explanations for the places that seemed like where traditional court proceedings held we passed on our way up because our tour guide was in too much of a hurry to get to the top that he could not wait for Shammah and I to catch up. Anyway, I still beheld the open spaces with stone work and the water that seemed to be constantly flowing from the hills beside the stairs on the way up. The stairs are surrounded with lush greenery and unless one is particularly extremely adventurous or extremely daft, the thought of being on the path alone should scare anyone.
We took pictures and left. Someday, I might return for a personalized tour of the place.
But I still have beef against the administrators of the facility.
The Idanre Hills facility is suffering from what many tourist sites in Nigeria suffer from. We have a severely poor maintenance culture.
When we got down from the hills, I wanted to use the restroom so I asked our tour guide for directions which he gave. I stepped into the place and I just wanted to die. The place was nasty, no electricity, blackened floors and water cisterns, disgusting cobwebs and there was this nausea inducing odour that oozed out from the toilets.
I left Idanre, mildly upset.
The rest of my stay in Akure was amazing and I was wondering why the holidays had to be so short and I had to return to Lagos.
Now, you may want to know what made the rest of my stay in Akure amazing and why I am just being general about it instead of giving specific details.
Well, that’s why there is selective amnesia in my caption. None of us who went to Akure remember what happened beyond there being food and we going to Idanre Hills.
As for the rest? Selective amnesia ti take over. I cannot come and let Satan use me to expose this particular mischief.