After nearly eleven hours I arrive. No need to worry about hurting my back by horse riding after that journey which definitely rates as the bumpiest ride ever! To say the roads are rough is an understatement and the speed bumps are more like a ride at Alton Towers! We set off at 8am. Mary was in the front of the truck and I clambered in the back with her suitcases- Mary is a very stylish lady who loves her clothes and handbags! We drove down the dusty road through Oro-I love the old buildings there. Then I had a lovely treat as Mary produced a box of Ferrero Roche chocolates and I was told to take two as was Samuel, our driver! They tasted good too-nearly all the chocolate I have bought here tastes of soap-so these were a real treat. It was good to chat with Mary too-she has daughters living in London and Arizona and visits them every year.
We stopped in Omu-Aran and Mary bought some bread while I made friends with some little girls. I also investigated kola nuts but was warned not to try them as they are a stimulant-we could do with some of them at certain meetings I have been to!After about three hours we crossed into Ekiti and then Kogi state and stopped at a sort of service station at Kabba. There was a music hut where Mary bought some CDs and a food bar where I got a coke. As we both needed to ‘ease’ (they really do say this) ourselves we went round the back of the building to find the toilets which turned out to be holes with the requisite plastic water kettles.
Most of the landscape was very flat and dry. We did pass some villages with mud huts with thatched roofs. Along the way we stopped to buy yams-these were enormous and a very strange shape. There was much bargaining-Mary does not give in easily. We also got a huge bunch of plantains. Recently picked-the men selling it had to go and fetch the farmer in order to accept the price Mary was asking but it was agreed and we set off again. My only purchase was a little bag of cashew nuts but even then Mary paid for them for me. We stopped so I could get out and admire the cement factory of which Nigerians are very proud and the countryside became more varied with mountains and hills. Crossing the river Niger was quite interesting although the water level was very low.
Throughout the journey people were holding up bush meat they had just caught in the hope of selling it. One was particularly gruesome with the innards hanging out! Most looked like rabbit. Eventually we were on a good straight road to Abuja but as we neared the city the speed bumps appeared and I had to cling onto the seat as we bounced over them! The traffic was awful. Some cars were driving down the central reservation. Traffic one side of the dual carriage way was slower than the other so quite a lot of cars were speeding up their journey by going the wrong way down the faster side!
Just before we reached Abuja we stopped to visit a large shop famous for its materials. The cloth is lovely and much softer than the stuff I got from the Emir’s Palace market. I bought two lots. One is lacy and soft and may do for Katie’s wedding. The shop also sold skin crème so I was able to treat myself to a tube of Dove. I also bought Laughing Cow cheese. There were many other lovely foods but out of the price range of a VSO.
The hotel was very nice with friendly staff and quite a good veggie choice but the noise from the a/c was horrendous although it did block out the noise from the night club opposite. I went on another foray to the material shop the next night but apart from that stayed in the hotel. Obolowu and d Alabi were there and were good to work with.
The meeting was good-it was nice to see Lillian, David and John again. There was loads to eat with lots of snacks. I got to visit the ESSPIN office where I hoped my laptop could be fixed but alas no. I watched telly and read books in the evenings and mainly tried to rest a bit. The journey back was less interesting but not as tiring as we came by plane.
Unfortunately I was then not too well and we were a bit worried that I might have malaria but I seem okay now.