Me at Lucy's Wedding. The sun does shine in England!

Me at Lucy's Wedding. The sun does shine in England!
Me still in England!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Adventures in Oro and recovering on New Year's Eve

We decided it was about time we did some exploring and ventured out of Ilorin. We had been told that Oro was a pleasant rural town with a museum as well as a college that Lea may do some work for. So we decided to go ‘travelling’ there. In true Brit style we made a packed lunch-peanut butter sandwiches and bananas.
It is a bit cooler now in the mornings-harmattan is here apparently-so we started our travels with the treck to the filling station by Ilorin Post Office. There are lots of interesting ‘shops’ by the post office selling shoes, bras, dvds but there was no time to dawdle. As we approached the filling station (remember this is Nigerian for bus station but not as I know bus stations) we were asked where we were going and taken to a very dilapidated vehicle-it could once have passed as a green minibus. There were two other passengers and we were told to get in. Just as I was considering that it was going to be a cool ride due to the absence of a windscreen at the back we were told to get out. Apparently another passenger needed to get in with the added complication that he was carrying a large windscreen-no, not for the bus but to fix another vehicle in Oro. After a lot of debate and struggling he managed to get the windscreen in behind the driver’s seat. We clambered back on and waited for more passengers to arrive. Hawkers and beggars constantly appeared at the windows. There was a bread stall next to the van and I watched as the owner took the bread out of the bags and wiped them with a rather grubby green sponge before putting them back in the bag-far too much knowledge and suddenly my butties didn’t seem quite so appetising.
Finally we had fifteen passengers and it was time to go. First the stone that was acting as a hand brake had to be moved then we had to coast down the slope a bit (avoiding another bus going in the opposite direction) so the engine could kick in-surprise surprise no ignition either. The first bit of the journey was okay apart from the bang on the head I got when we swerved to avoid a taxi. But then we got to the ‘bad’ road. This is road that was under construction but as the workers have not been paid work has stopped and it is now like a dirt track with sand everywhere. The houses and shops in this area are covered in sand. They also blocked part of the road so there are constant traffic jams. The only good thing was the driver had to slow down! Breathing sand and diesel is not pleasant!
Fortunately we soon left the ‘bad’ road but stopped to pick up two more passengers. Surely we were full now? No ten minutes later we were joined by a large lady and I was pressed even closer to the window. After an hour we were in Oro. We had to shout ‘drop’ quickly as we only realised when we asked another passenger.
Feeling very hot we decided to go for a drink in a ‘bar’ next to a shop. We didn’t linger as the flies clearly enjoyed this spot more than we did. We started to walk towards the centre and admired the buildings which are very old and ornate. Seeing a sign for the college we turned off the main road. An okada driver wanted to take us and didn’t seem to understand why I refused. He was very concerned that it was too far for us to walk. Eventually he seemed to get the message and we continued on our way but then disaster struck. It was a very bumpy uneven road and next thing I knew I had tripped and was flat on my face. I had cut my hand, my knee and banged my head! Lea came and helped me up and I was very brave! Suddenly we were surrounded with people saying, ’Sorry, sorry’ and trying to help. I was also filthy and one lady gave me her handkerchief which was very kind. The okada driver reappeared and said, ’Now you will come on the okada!’ He was completely bewildered when I refused again.
So we tried again. This time we were joined by a man who kept telling us it was too far to walk but then said,’ah it is for exercise’ and said he would show us a quick route. When I told him where I was from I got the ‘colonial masters’ phrase and ‘how was the queen?’ but he was very kind and led us through some interesting paths where the people waved and were very friendly. Back on the road we soon arrived at the college. All in all it took about twenty minutes!
The college is in a pleasant rural setting and there were plenty of benches in shady places for us to have our picnic. We met someone called Felix who was in charge of student welfare and made us feel welcome. The buildings are in better condition than the college at Lucy’s and a lot had glass windows.
On our way back I stopped at a shop to buy some biscuits. The children were so friendly I asked could I take a photo. As the three posed a shout went up and suddenly more children appeared-all desperate to be on the picture. This caused a lot of amusement and was a lovely moment. All in all Oro is very pleasant and it was good to get away from the noise and bustle of the city. People also were very friendly and eager to chat.
The worst bit was standing by the road trying to hail a bus to take us back to Ilorin. All buses are not standard colours so you just have to try to stop any minibus you see. After an hour of standing in the sun a bus eventually stopped and we were able to get in. After the journey home I think going on the rides at Alton Towers will be a doddle. We went at top speed and I gave up counting the number of near misses!
Back in Ilorin we trekked back to the house. I bought beans on the way-the shop keeper remembered me and I got some free!
The joy of having a hot shower to get all the filth off was wonderful. Mustn’t get used to it though as Sue is back next week!

So today has been spent at a more leisurely pace as I am quite stiff and sore after my fall. We went to Chicken Chilis for lunch. I was hoping for a doughnut but they had none. Lea enjoyed his chicken however. Then we went to my new friend who has a shop near our house and I did some hard bargaining to get a pineapple. I bought green beans too and he gave me two free oranges! The hawker I stopped to get onions from was not so easy to bargain with but thanks to another customer I eventually got onions at a fair price.
Exhausted we went back to our own house where Neppa was on so we could chill out a bit. We also went to the egg shop and had a good chat with Esther and her sister Miriam and their cousins. They actually know and use my name now which is great-just need to teach the other kids now and stop the constant shouting of ‘oybo’ (white person).

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