Of Sacrifices and Related Matters

I love coffee. With its rich taste and delicious aroma, my day is not complete without it. Morning, midday, evening, night… no time is the wrong time for a cup.

And then a few days into Lent, I thought it might be nice to give it up. While this period is a good time to make sacrifices – fasts, abstinence and the like, this for me is more of a test of my willpower than a spiritual exercise.

The first few days were surprisingly easy. No coffee? No problem.

Then I started to notice the changes. I run on somewhere between 4 and 5 hours of sleep usually – stay up till 2 am, give or take an hour, and be up around 6. Jump out of bed, straight into the shower and out the door as quickly as I can, then get through my day with no problems, and do it all over again. Great stuff.

But what do I have now? I’m up by 5 or so – start the day by drinking water, then doing some exercise and having breakfast *gasps* and then sometime around 10pm, maybe earlier *double gasp* I’m off to sleep.

This sucks!

I loved my sleep deprivation. I love my caffeine kick. Who on earth needs 8 hours of sleep anyway? I wish I was kidding, but it feels like I’m sleeping my entire existence away!

(Is this what withdrawal symptoms feel like?)

I am looking forward to getting back in bed with my poison. Come Easter, come!

In the meantime, if you love a good cup too, I’d totally recommend Gorilla’s Coffee.

I have a pack to spare. Send me a message and I’d hook you up 🙂

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Rwanda Day 4 – 5: Hello Congo!

Well, almost.

After a really laid back time at Kinigi, we headed on to catch a glimpse of Lake Kivu. Lake Kivu lies both in Rwanda and Congo, and I’m glad we didnt skip it like we wanted to. The view was everything, and even though there wasn’t enough time for a swim and a boat ride towards Congo, I now know to plan a return here.

Taking In Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu

After a spending a short while taking it all in, we headed for the actual border. If you’ve ever been at the hellish Nigeria-Benin land border, you’d be taken aback by how different this is.

Look and Learn Seme! *side eyes*

We first walked into the complex, looking around to get permission before taking pictures or doing anything that may cause any problems. We were literally walking around and expecting to be harrassed. If this doesn’t sound like the after-effect of a bad relationship, I don’t know what does.

No one bothered us.

As with many other things on this trip, it evoked a mix of emotions. Some shame at how chaotic things are back home, awe at how the country has fixed up, pride and hope that things can be better… but I digress.

We headed on to Nyungwe, home to one of East Africa’s most diverse rain forest and a myriad of hiking trails, where we tucked in for the night. Options were the really fancy, 5- star, $900 a night Forest Lodge, or the no-frills $50 a night guest house. Feel free to guess which I settled for. Next time, Nyungwe. Next time…

After a restful albeit chilly night, and a hot breakfast, we were on our way. I had run out of motion sickness pills – I must point out that if you get bouts of this while travelling at all, on this route your medicine is a must. The beautiful views while driving in the hills comes with a little price to pay. Thankfully another tourist we had offered a ride had a stash and was generous enough to share. Day saved!

View of a Lake and some Baby Islands from the Road :)

View of a Lake and some Baby Islands from the Road 🙂

The Nyungwe National Park has a myriad of hiking trails on offer, and we opted for the canopy walkway. Briefing done, sticks in hand, we headed off. The trail is pretty easy – there was a little girl in our group who had no trouble with the hike, and all it took was a few hours.

If you have not attempted to dance Shaku Skaku above a rain forest, you cannot talk to me please.

New heights conquered – literally, new friends made, Nyungwe done, and we headed on to our next stop at Nyanza.

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Rwanda Day 3: Volcanoes National Park

I’m back to regular programming now aka off the road and back home getting the year started; and with all that it has been a liiiittle more than a day since the last post, but I’m back with all the gist about Day 3 🙂

Hiking enthusiast or not, a visit to Kinigi which is home to the Volcanoes National Park is an absolute must. If you’re not braving the climb up one of the various peaks in the Virunga mountain range, it is enough to hang around in the fields and just soak in the views of Mounts Sabyinyo, Karisimbi, Muhabura, Gahinga and Bisoke.

Beautiful View of Mount Sabyinyo

The plan was to hike Mt Bisoke, an active volcano with a crater lake at its peak. Taking about four hours to ascend – and about the same to get back down with temperature at the top between 6 and 9 degrees, it is said to have a stunning view that is totally worth the trouble. However, because you conquer obstacles in your mind before you hold victory in your hands, and our heads were not just there at that time, Mt Bisoke will have to miss me until I’m back in drier season.

The day was spent leisurely exploring the neighbourhood, chatting with locals, and then we headed on to Musanze, a larger town a few minutes away, exploring the shops for any interesting buys, and having a delicious lunch of wings, fish strips, salad and lemon + ginger tea, before heading back to Kinigi to spend the afternoon on a guided tour of the village.

This very authentic experience had us walking through paths lined with rocks from volcanic eruptions from decades past, stopping to play with kids spinning tops in the street and learning about culture, lifestyle and even government policy from Joda, the very pleasant guide. We talked about all topics from free, compulsory education for all children in Rwanda, to merit-based university scholarships provided by the government, to relocation of homes to areas close to social amenities to ensure everyone has access, to agricultural policy executed by the villagers aimed at replenishing the land. While practicing some Kinyarwanda, it was really funny when Joda noted that we were getting people confused by looking somewhat different yet sounding the same  🙂

Intore Dancer

And when it was time for the highlight, a performance of Intore, the Dance of Warriors, it was impossible to not join in.

I may not have conquered Bisoke this time, but Kinigi definitely has a piece of me and I have a feeling I will be back 😉

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Rwanda Day 2: Akagera National Park

After the New Year Countdown shenanigans, Tuesday got off to a slow start. Thankfully the driver who the host S had graciously helped hire for the next six days was scheduled to arrive by 11am, and we spent no less than two hours in the morning discussing Rwanda’s recovery and growth, Nigeria’s state, our countries’ prospects and our people, over breakfast of brown bread and homemade avocado spread. Have I said how amazing S is yet?! While the conversations made my heart heavy and left me personally challenged, I was still excited about the adventures ahead.

The plan was to head to Akagera on Tuesday, go on the Night Safari to see nocturnal animals, camp overnight and go on the Day Safari, hoping to see the Big Five. Water, drinks, snacks, insect repelllent, torches, warm clothing, blankets and a padded mat (bought after combing all of Kigali in search of sleeping bags with no luck) were loaded in the back of the jungle- ready 4×4, and off we went on the 2.5 hour trip from Kigali.

Fees settled and introductions to the guide done, while chilling at the reception before heading to the camping area to retire for the day as the night Safari was fully booked, a group returned with news of sighting a herd of elephants. We quickly set off to see them just in case we were not as lucky the following day. Smart move.


Excited about having seen the elephant, hippos, baboons, impalas, warthogs and a whole bunch of other animals, we called it a day and headed to the camping area which was overlooking a lake with a stunning view, and surrounded with an electric fence to keep us from becoming dinner. With the fence open at the camp entrance, the slight hint of danger made it all the more exciting.


Nothing prepared me for how cold the night was going to get! Jacket, thermals, socks and I was still freezing. I must have woken up to look for the warmest position I could curl into a hundred times. Each time I woke up it seemed like a new place was numb. Fam! I still don’t understand how I zipped myself straight-jacket-style to maximise my body heat, but I can’t forget the confusing discomfort that woke me from the awkward position. This was Type 2 fun that I’m ready to do all over again!

The campsite was overlooking a lake with a stunning view, and the sunrise in the morning is hard to describe. Nature is the most perfect artist!

Beautiful Sunrise

Beautiful Sunrise


Four hours and sightings of buffalos, girraffes, zebras, more hippopotamuses later, while listening to the Park Guide talk about his love for Tekno and Patoranking and how he stopped being a PSquare fan after the group split, it was time to depart. To the elusive lions and rhinoceros, see you later.

Next stop on the trip was Kinigi, home to the Volcanoes National Park where Mount Bisoke is located. Heading from Akagera, we made the 2.5hour trip back to Kigali, had lunch and the absolute best lemon and ginger tea ever made, and  continued 2.5 hours or so to a quaint little guest house at Kinigi. Dinner was a little unfamiliar to the Nigerian palate – but there are few things large doses of chilli oil won’t fix. After sleeping off in front of the fireplace at the lounge and then sauntering off to my room, Day 2 was done.

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Muraho from Rwanda!

That’s ‘Hello’in Kinyarwanda, the language spoken where I’m posting from. Right now my stomach is stuffed with dinner and I’m sitting at the table nursing a cup of hot milk and ginger. I’m stuffed, but the Nyungwe cold won’t let me give up what’s left in my flask. It’s my 6th night here, and having spent not more than two nights in one place, I really do owe the world a trip report. Haha!

To begin with, the choice of Rwanda was totally by chance. I randomly decided on a trip days before my birthday in August after seeing an ad on Instagram which didn’t happen but I realized it was a destination to keep an eye on. When the travel bug bit a few months later and I was looking for somewhere with affordable tickets and no visa troubles for GreenPassporters, it was an easy choice. Plane ticket and yellow fever card in hand, I was on a plane to Kigali last Sunday!

My first introduction to the Rwandan spirit was at the point of entry. Visas are issued to Nigerians on arrival for $30. When I handed the official a $100 bill however, I got back $20 change. He was pretty sure I had paid him $50. After I walked off when processing was done, he hurried after me asking that I come back so we confirm the correct amount. Back at his post, he went through his drawer and computer, and reiterated that he was right. I did not have a $50 bill so I knew for sure he wasn’t as I couldn’t have paid him that, but it was my word against his and I was certain it was an honest mistake so I let it go. By Monday morning, my host whose details I had provided at entry, had received an unholy number of missed calls. The Immigration officer checked yet again and realizing his mistake, called so I could return to the airport and get my money. I am still impressed.

On Monday, got properly acquainted with the most wonderful AirBnB hosts, who helped create an itinerary for the trip. Going back a little, the plan at first was to sign up for a tour with an agency, but decided to land here and go with the flow. Best plan! This has turned out much cheaper and the flexibility is priceless. On Monday, the day was spent in Kigali getting information and supplies for the road trips to follow, and partying at the Kigali Convention Centre, counting down to the New Year, screaming along to Simi, Bruce Melody and well, Patoranking who seemed like an even bigger star in Rwanda than back home. The music DJ Waxxy, DJ Miller and the third impeccably dressed super skilled DJ whose name I don’t remember played at the concert was so Nigerian that I could have been in Lagos. It was a blast! Back home sometime around 3:30 am on Jan 1st, day one was over.

I really should talk about the clean Rwandan streets, impeccably dressed, helpful, well- mannered people and the chilled vibe, but it’s 9:23 pm right now, I’ve left the dinner table for my bed and I’m stuffed and sleepy so I’d just go to bed now. Tomorrow I’m scheduled to climb the canopy walkway above the Nyungwe rain forest which has been described as the road to hell. Let me just rest in preparation for facing it tomorrow. Stay with me 🙂

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On Pain

Yesterday evening seems like a blur.

I had skipped lunch, and so opted to make myself a lovely dinner. The kind of evening I was going to have was clear in my mind – a quiet one with me huddled on the couch, in my living room which I’d have made too cold, all by myself with no one to get in the way of my thoughts as I allow my mind wander after a delicious plate of seafood pasta and a glass of wine.

Cooking done, dinner had, everything was going according to plan and then it begun…

It started as a dull ache in my tummy, and before long I was in pain all the way to the soles of my feet. I hope I never find out how 10/10 pain is, but it sure felt like it. Lying in the floor with my feet elevated gave little relief. Before long I was puking out everything in my bowels, while intermittently ‘cleansing my colon’. I was going from having my face over a place it has no business being, to replacing my face with my bum, to lying on the bathroom floor and back again.

By the time this had gone on for a short while, I began to feel faint. I staggered to the front door and unlocked it so that if I passed out, help will have easy access to me lol.

Now here’s the interesting part. At some point, my body had enough and went to sleep. I don’t even recall when that happened. Have to say I’m surprised I woke up on my bed rather than the floor. This morning I feel as good as new, with the added bonus of feeling really light – no detox needed! My first thought when I woke up was “what exactly happened last night?”, and until I started to write this the details of how bad I felt were but a distant blur.

Often times we have pretty plans all laid out, like my quiet, introspective Friday night, and then fate goes “Just whollup!” Here’s wishing that painful patches, if any, in this journey called life are over so quickly that we look back and can barely remember if they really happened.

Here’s hoping we heal right away and are better off for the lessons that they teach. Or at least we get free detoxes.

🙂

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Happy New Year!

2018

It’s half an hour to April 12th, and you’re probably wondering what New Year I speak of but as they say, It’s your morning whenever you wake up and I am only just getting my New Year resolutions vibe on.

The last few months have been those where my goals and motivations were locked away in my head. Now I have finally got to the point where I make a list (hallelujah!). Don’t cringe just yet – I’m not about to do that right here and share all my hopes and dreams and deepest darkest fears, but tonight I’ve been thinking a lot about just how much we dream of, and how little we actually do. (I should say me, but because misery loves company I’m making this sound like you and I are in this together as partners in bad behavior :p ).

I know without a doubt that there is so much more we can be if we put in a little more work. (Okay, maybe a lot!). And why in the world should we be less than we could be? There should be no excuses, no weak surrenders. To quote someone I do not remember “…we are young. Now isn’t the time to live the dream. It is the time to build it”. This shouldn’t be the year we sit in the bleachers as spectators of our own lives. It’s time to play. Hard. Write your script and direct your life. While you’re at it though, be nice. This should not be the year you’re an idiot. Kind is the new cool. Shine some light everywhere you go. Spread good energy. Lend a listening ear. Offer to help. Be genuine. Be selfless, and put yourself third.

Cheers to a blessed 2018!

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Go ahead… Live!

1:10 am. Sunday night/ Monday morning.

I should be asleep, but thanks to my sleeping pattern – or lack thereof – I’m not.

A montage showing Lewis Hamilton’s F1 victory just jolted me into the realization that I hardly ever invest emotion into anything with an outcome I am unsure of. If I loved a football club or a MotoGP team for example, each match or race I watch is another chance to go through a spectrum of feelings with no guarantee that the end will leave me on a high or low. It’s almost like a little piece of life.

I have always thought my life is pretty exciting, but right now I kinda wonder what I’ve missed out on.

Being in control is great, but maybe it’s time…

Just maybe.

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Of Me and Asahd’s Daddy

I dreamt DJ Khaled came to my house.

The dream was really vivid. At first I was about to leave a parking lot somewhere when a friend brought an elderly Herbert Wigwe to take a look at my car cos he was looking to buy a similar one.

My car is a Honda Civic 2007 model. 😐

After I did Herbert the favour of getting a closer look at the car he wanted – opened the doors so he could check out the interiors, opened the boot so he could have a look too-  he got into his large SUV and we all left. I got home, and shortly after DJ Khaled arrived. He came cos i was meant to interview him. Because i had been out, I hadn’t got the chance to arrange my house so I was dashing around getting the place in order while he was chilling in the living room, and at some point he went to ease himself in my scattered bathroom. It really was like a friend visiting. Afterwards I grabbed a little notepad, we chatted like friends and then headed to a venue of some sort. Turns out he was also performing at a show.

The show was in what looked like a church hall and the audience looked like an after-church crowd. He sat on a wooden desk towards the back of the hall. At some point, the organizers started to set up his corner with entertainment and  drinks and his desk began to look like a VIP section at a club. This they were meant to have done earlier, but were late because Nigerian time… He was uninterested and unimpressed. They had told him he was meant to perform with a robot, and the robot was yet to arrive. Being his friend, I kept checking to see if he was alright and he asked me to convey his displeasure to the organizers. He complained that rather then get the robot ready for his performance, there they were offering him alcohol and white powdery substances! He was really pissed off. I tried to placate him, and went to tell them what he said. The guy in charge of the robot seemed pretty laid back and not flustered at all in-spite of his guest’s dissatisfaction. He said the robot was working, but they had sent it to a workshop located opposite FUT Minna (an area called ‘Front of School’) to have it quickly checked, to be returned within an hour . When I told my friend Khaled, he let me know he was only going to wait a little longer, and then he was going to leave. He clearly was getting to the end of his rope. I continued to act as intermediary between my friend and the organizers who were set up in what looked like the lobby of a hotel. While trying to let them know that they needed to get their act together as DJ Khaled was on the verge of leaving, one who was sitting at their spot which looked like a hotel reception desk was trying to convince me to buy an MTN SIM card! I turned it down, then ignored him and continued to talk to the next guy about my friend’s annoyance. Moments later, two young women arrive carrying the slightly rusted robot which looked like a school project from a few years before. I chatted the ladies for a little bit, trying to find out if both of them made the robot, and then I woke up.


I think I need malaria medicine.

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Just Do It!

One fine weekend I went out of town to visit family and jointly bask in the joy that God’s special blessings bring. It was a short, lovely trip, but the subject of this post is neither the indescribable warmth that the unconditional love of family can envelope you in, or the mischievous antics of my lovely little children (allow me to claim them in peace please). Rather, today’s gist is of how I got to my destination.

My brother with whom I was to make the trip decided that rather than take a taxi, we should drive.

Ha!

For a bit of background, I’m that girl who thought she’d never be able to drive. It probably sounds silly, but the thought made me nervous. After putting off the purchase of a car for a while, one Saturday morning I was on my way out, waiting at the gate for transportation when it suddenly started to rain. Luckily for me, my sister had suggested I carry an umbrella just because. Even though it helped, it didn’t stop me from getting half drenched from the slant rain drops; neither did it stop the keke Napep that drove past and splashed dirty water on me. While laughing at myself and walking back home, I decided in that moment that I had stalled enough and it was time to buy a damn car.

Not long afterwards, I was lucky to get a good deal and so I got it, and got tarpaulin. After the car got a nice wash and I had taken a few pictures to share with friends who had teased me about my ‘carlessness’, I covered it up. After all it wasn’t going to be leaving that spot anytime soon. Only then did I enroll in a driving school, and I spent the next few weekends taking classes. Even after that, I always had one reason or the other not to – expired learner’s permit, no licence, bla bla bla, before I finally, finally ran out of excuses and got on the road. Hallelujah!

Thanks to Apapa driving, Danfo drivers and trailers have got nothing on me now. However driving out of Lagos on a highway was nowhere on my bucket list. And so when my brother suggested that we drive out of town, my first reaction was hell no! When I mentioned that I was travelling to a couple of my friends and they immediately assumed I was driving and were struggling to understand what my scruples were, I started to think it probably was not such an alien idea. By Friday night, I had made up my mind to just do it (Hello Nike!) and on Saturday morning I made an early visit to a service station to replace my four tyres and get my wheels balanced and aligned, and after a quick stop at a store to buy snacks for the kids (today’s equivalent of “Mummy Oyoyo!”. If you were born in my generation, try yourself and lie that you don’t know what that is!), we set out on our merry way.

Although I claim to hate driving, rides are actually nice. In the 1 hour 30 minutes or so it took us to get to our destination, we chatted about the randomest of things. From updates on the latest social media scandal to Big Brother and the issue of consent and consequences (or the lack thereof), to business and money, we succeeded in making the trip without any proper cursing of errant drivers. And after a lovely, lovely weekend, I did it again in the opposite direction, heading back to Eko with my bro in the front seat making sure we don’t take the wrong turn to end up in Benin City, and notifying me of when I need to “mash carbon”. We had a comfortable trip, got back home in one piece AND with bragging rights just because I grew a pair.

Here’s what that episode taught me: That thing you’re afraid of is probably not a big deal. If it won’t kill you to do it, go ahead and bite the bullet!

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