Saturday, 29 May 2010
Saturday 29th May 2010 - The trip to Olumo Rock
Today I was woken early by a combination of NEPA going down and the heavens opening with the loudest downpour ever. I lay in the humidity of the early morning thinking about getting up, excited about my trip out of town to Olumo rock. I laid there hoping the electricity would soon return as it’s nicer to come out of the shower with the air con giving a coolness to the air allowing you to dry.
The kids had been given bikes and were all outside excited trying to ride them, Sola and Nimi deciding standing on them was mush more fun. Angela then did a cooked breakfast of sausage and eggs. Of course this was not an English fry up it was Nigerian style, frankfurters with a spicy scrambled eggs with onions, pepper and chilli, very nice too.
Today being the last Saturday of the month was environmental day, everyone is expected to clean and tidy around their homes in an attempt to make Lagos a cleaner place. Mr Dee went to get the car from Femi once this allowed him and picked me up at around 12.30. We (Mr Dee, a Nigerian lady also called Jo and myself) were travelling out of town to Ogun state to visit Abeokuta which is home to a Yoruba heritage sight called Olumo rock.
We left Ogba and headed through Ketu and Egege and out of Lagos state into Ogun state. This was not the quickest of journeys as there was heavy traffic at times. Once in Ogun state I suddenly realised how clean Lagos is and how it must have been just a few years ago. Although the further we got in the greener it became and not so crammed with buildings, but the rubbish on the sides of the road was incredible and at times it was like mini dumps, fly tipping would be an understatement. This must have been how Lagos was before the road sweepers were employed to clean it daily. Just as we got into Ogun state the roads became even worse and a huge bottleneck had appeared, horns were being blown even more than usual. For those who have never been to Lagos horns are used to say I’m coming, get out of the way, have you seen me, why are you not moving, as well as just because I feel like it. I think the only law of the road is you must have a horn and that really is the only rule.
There was one town that we drove through (or rather took an hour to travel the mile or so through) that had built an overpass, a well-constructed dual carriageway that for some reason that I cannot for the life of me see was blocked off to traffic and had never yet been used only as a very expensive foot bridge! The road had a huge hole even by Lagos standards and was in part more like a river than a road.
Once through this the roads for the most were fast, fairly well maintained and had relatively little traffic. The views were more of trees, cornfields and luscious green which is stunning against the beautiful brick red of the ground. We went past Aro the biggest Mental hospital you could imagine, the wall must have spread for 2-3 miles and from the outside it looked like it should have been a nature reserve. We then passed Ewekoro and its huge cement factory that is run by Lafarge and Blue Circle and is in the process of expanding.
Eventually we reached Abeokuta home of Olumo Rock and as we arrived I suddenly realised all the taxis had changed from the yellow of Lagos taxis to green. This is meant to be one of the first towns that welcomed missionaries and has a reputation of its people being very friendly. We then travelled past a market that specialised in Nigerian clothes, there were stalls and stalls with every colour of the rainbow and every pattern imaginable. We also went over the Ogu River where Ogun State derives its name, it looked beautiful with the mass of vegetation that surrounded it,
We got to Olumo Rock about 3 hours after leaving this was for about a 65 kilometre journey (40 miles). We entered through the huge gates after paying our entrance fee and there before us was the famous granite rock. We had the choice of a lift (which was a bit of an eyesore against the natural granite rock) or climbing and decided that climbing would be more fun, we had a guide to take us around and inform us of the history and he took my camera and took photos too.
It is not the highest place in the world at around 137m but certainly was a fair climb in the humid heat of Nigeria. First was the main Olumo shrine where once a year only 2 people can enter, they used to sacrifice people but thankfully now just animals. There was a low cave where families would shelter in times of war, there were bowls carved into the floor. We went up this crevice which started with stairs and soon turned into boulders which we had to stretch across and anyone that knows me would have been proud of how I managed without fear and trepidation! The ‘safety measures’ were brown lines saying do not cross, every time I went within two feet of these Mr Dee panicked and pulled me back ( I think the fear of Femi’s wrath if I had slipped was his main concern). There appears sadly not a huge amount of well kept history in Nigeria probably not always realising its importance for future generations. This sight is of great importance to the Yoruba tribe which is predominately the main culture I have seen here.
We descended down on the inside staircase and made our way back to the car. We had dinner in a local ‘café’, the woman had run this place for forty years and governors and allsorts have eaten there. We had amala, Ogbono, goat and fish which was really lovely. Everyone was making a fuss of the ‘Oyibo’ and women would come in and say welcome. I then had the photo shot with the women handing me their babies, just as I handed one baby back it weed all over the floor and its mother, I would not have been so happy if it hadn’t waited those vital few seconds!
We then made our way back leaving at around 5.30 and again hitting the traffic in both Ogun and Lagos states I got in about 8.30. Femi was relieved to hear I was home (he was concerned as to whether I would be safe and not altogether happy with me going, so I thank him for letting me and lending us his car). Angela also rang to make sure I was OK, and when I came in she offered to make me dinner but even though it was jollof rice I had to decline as I was full. As I was sitting writing my blog I could hear Julie Andrews and the hills are alive, I went into the front room and just laughed as Angela and her sister in-law was watching The Sound Of Music. My favourite! Thanks Mr Dee for a great day and a memory that will last.