Edit Blog Post
Published: February 1st 2008
Overshot the border as there were no signposts, we got to Nigeria without getting stamped so we had to go back. This is in Ilara, a border town, while our passports are being processed we had truck lunch, once through we tried to change money in town but wont change dollars for us so we moved on, Not one minute later we got stopped by Immigration checkpoint and there will be 8 more that afternoon, unbelievable, most of the time we have to show our passports and officials going up the back of the truck to check us out, Sometimes we can still see the last checkpoint and we got stopped by another! We got through that ordeal and bush camped before another checkpoint ahead of us. They also checked for the yellow cards a first in this trip for us. When we stopped to shop for food earlier in the day we got mobbed by curious locals, they just sat there watching us as if were on reality TV.
Our 2nd bush camp is in a noisy place, before we left camp Di announced someone left a sanitary napkin in the bush and the truck is not leaving until
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN
it is picked up, Jen decided to pick it up for the group.
While on the road I watched 3 episodes of Heroes, stopped at Ibadan to change money, did not take long but we have to show passports. Had lunch at Mr. Biggs the Jolloff rice and spicy chicken was too spicy for me hardly ate it, bought headphones with Zoe.
From there we drove to Ogbomosho, where we hit lots of heavy traffic, truck drivers are annoying, they honk all the time and quite risky drivers. We saw therre overturned trucks in the side of the road, a testament to their careless driving. We camped just outside the city in the Oyo province. We camped at a dead end road. Like the last couple of nights since getting in to Nigeria we had cool nights, warm days. It was a long drive today and ended up camping for the night just outside Lokoja, quite pissed as my I pod is acting up again. At the camp I watched a few more episodes of heroes...
Drove our way to the capital city of Abuja the next day camping at the posh Sheraton hotel, well actually at
the carpark out back of the hotel, but we can use most of the amenities and we have 2 rooms to use for showering and what not, one for boys and one for girls, some girls opted to use our facilities as their room is messy. We showered at the Squash courts locker room and then did my washings before hanging out in the supercold lobby of the hotel to watch the Africa cup, Ghana vs Guinea, I got bored waiting so I went up the boys room and watched tennis instead. Mark and Bryan came up the room a bit later and bothered me for a bit, they got tired of it and left. Went back down the lobby where people are watching the game on TV, bought Cam a beer so he'll let me use his computer to internet, went up the 8th floor on the Towers Lounge and found Bryan using it, Di offered here computer instead and so I was able to check my mail. Mac and Cheese for dinner just a few of us eating in the truck, the rest opted for the $30 plus dinner buffet at the Pappilon restaurant at the hotel, from
SCHOOL KIDS WELCOMING US TO NIGERIA, PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYAN
what I heard from Stu it was fabulous meal and they pigged out to their heart's content. The assistant general manager came out and sit with us outside the truck for some tea, he mentioned there is a Filipino chef working there and wanted me to meet him the next day.
The next morning went up the room to chill and watched the Aussie open while waiting for Di and Kiersten to come back from the Angolan Embassy in town, we found out later we can't apply here in Abuja as they only take in Nigerian resident's applications. Later in the day Jo and Mark and I tried to find a big mall so we can possibly have a look at cameras as both me and Mark lost our point and shoot cameras we took a taxi from the hotel and told them where we want to go but the taxi took us to a super expensive grocery store called Amigos, prices are ridiculously doubled as LP had mentioned, hired another taxi this time it took us to a bazaar type place full of small stores I think it's called Area 1 shopping complex, having been fed up with
PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYAN
the unwanted tour of the city we decided to go back to the hotel, oh one thing we noticed while driving around is bush meat being sold on the side of the street, we saw a grasscutter(big rodent like animal) and a big lizard, the taxi driver said it is sweet meat. Internetted at the super slow connection next to Mr. Biggs restaurant. Had some meat pies and went back to the hotel.
In the afternoon come dinner time we helped out Simon and Audrey prepare dinner, then went to the lobby for some happy hour beer. Christian the asst. general manager is there again and we had a chat, he made the waiter call the Pinoy chef and we chatted for a bit, his name is Nicolas and been working at the hotel less than 2 years and have worked before in Algeria and Tanzania, I was hoping he'd offer some free food from the buffet but did not happen!!! I promised to meet up with him after his shift is over around 9pm but completely forgot about it and after dinner went up to the room instead with the others and watched tv and chill out a
bit, Nick the Kiwi and Gwen the American we met camping next to us at the back of ther hotel came and join us, we saw Crash on tv then went back to our tent. The girls had quite a few drinks, wine i think and were on the girls room when we left for bed.
Next day same routine, after breakkie went up the room, Bry was bothering me with his channel surfing, i was trying to catch the Henin ,Sharapova match and he keeps flipping the channel while the point is being played. Mark overheard us from the toilet and thought we bicker and argue like a married couple.
Truck lunch before we left Abuja. We were supposed to leave at 1pm but sat on the truck for almost an hour as we waited for Di and Tony to sort out bills inside the cold lobby of the hotel. It turns out they got to chatting with Christian and it is not polite to just scoot out when the guy gave us a fab discount for our stay in the posh Sheraton hotel. Off we went to the Grand Central supermarket and shopped for dinner our group
is cooking tonite. David bought minced meat, I wanted to do a simple Aubergine dish but was overruled, and left them to sort it out themselves, felt bad later though, I think i am just getting sick of cooking and shopping, the turnaround lately is so quick i have no chance to relax, note to self no more temper tantrums while shopping for food. Chili con carne for dinner which was fab. Cold night again, curtains in the tent drawn this time. Woke up around 6am to pee herad some drum beastings and chantings, Bryan told me it's been going on for hours but I had slept through it apparently. Zoe woke me up the next morning as Jo is the only one getting breakkie ready.
For lunch we stopped at a school playground and the kids and the teachers and residents of the area cametowatch us eat our lunch,we later gave some sweets to the teachers for them to distribute if they want and in return they handed us half a sack full of local oranges. Another long drive we made more than 400 km today which made us closer to Calabar. Stopped at a lumber yard for
CAMPSITE AT SHERATON CARPARK
the night locals staring at us as they walk past us, very friendly warm English greetings from them. Next day driving to Calabar we got stopped by corrupt policemen and woman, apparently it is illegal to have the streering wheel on the right side as all English vehicles would be, Tony made us witness this and had us look out so the corrupt police will see what they are trying to do is seen by tourists, they were citing some 1972 law crap, in the end we took their names and license plates and Tony handed over a bribe but not without a tongue lashing commentaries on the state of corruption in their country. They seem not to really care what we think, and as we were pulling over we saw trucks not stopping at all but just throwing bribe money out the window!
Arrived in Calabar the next afternoon went straight to the Camerron consulate, aswe are making our way to the campsite we saw Raffa in his motorbike. We stopped to greet him he looked very happy and relieved to see us, apparently he was sick with Typhoid and malaria and is just about recovering. Camped at
a church ground next to the hotel. We went for a walk to find a money changer. Found a bank willing to change our money to local dibdobs, we lost Audrey at this point as she was walking ahead of us too fast. While at the bank, CNN is on and we learned, Heath Ledger had died, the Aussie girls were shocked. Starving badly so went for chicken and plantain at the Fiesta fries restaurant then met up with the rest at Cafe Havana across the street as they have some beer and watched some Africa Cup football match. Went back and did my work out, went up the crappy room we rented for using the toilet facility, it was stuffy and smelly and Amanda was there being sick and feeling ill. Audrey was in the shower and took 45 minutes! I was so ticked I told her off. Missed dinner because of that but had dessert. Then busied myself filling up the Cameroon visa forms, this is silly as we have to write a letter of introduction among other things. It will cost us $130 US!!!
Truck clean the next day, I was assigned to do the surfaces
inside the truck. When i finished did my laundry and met up with the rest at the Drill monkey Sanctuary.Then had lunch at Fiesta fries. Stu was feeling sick so Simon encourage him to have a blood test, i went with them to pick up the lab test and I introduced myself to Marc the Technologist and he let me in the lab, and had a look at Stu's thick smear, I havent seen a positive malaria in ages so he described to me what i am seeing in the microscope, it looks like just a purple dot on top of a lysed red cell, but hey who am I to argue he is the expert, Stu came out positive for Typhoid too. Went with him to the Doctor's clinic where he was prescribe medication for his malaria, had a chat with the kind Doctor and gave me tips for safe travels health wise in Southwestern Africa. Stu and I take malarone regularly for preventing malaria but the doctor wanted him to take another medication to cure it, he said it is what it works in this area. When we came back to camp we found out Amanda went for
a test as well as she has not been feeling well lately. Came with her to pick up the test result and she is positive for malaria as well. Had a look at the slide again, Amanda could not believe it but we trust the Tech as this is his expertise. Took Amanda to the same doctor and this time I bought a course of treatment for myself in case I get malaria as we travel down through the Congos, better safe than sorry, although i think taking the malarone treatment course as prescribed at home is just as well, i am just my paranoid self at that time. Had my shower when we got back and a delicious meal from cook group 1 veggies and potatoes with a white sauce, later i found out what drama came with it while preparing the meal, this according to Mark. Watched a bit of the soccer match between Nigeria and Mali that ended in a draw, went to bed before it finished coz I found it quite boring.
Next morning breakkie and put away tent and last minute laundry then off to internet, we leave at 1pm. Found out Jo tested
positive for Typhoid as well so gave her cipro which was prescribed to me but found no use for it as yet. Half day of driving stopping in a town to shop for food then camped in another lumberyard. The next day we drove about half and hour to the frontier with Cameroon.
The Rocks and Hills of Abuja:
The very character of Abuja has been shaped by the two renowned rock formations around it. These are the Zuma Rock and the Aso Rock. The former is referred to as the ‘Gateway to Abuja' and the Federal Capital Territory begins at its base, where the state of Niger ends. It is also reported to be the exact geographical center of Nigeria. The Aso Rock is located at the head of Abuja and the city extends southwards from the rock
The imposing Zuma Rock, located a little off the main road that goes from Abuja to Kaduna, is definitely worth a visit. Several facilities and amenities to attract tourists are gradually coming up in the vicinity. It is close enough to Abuja to be covered in a day trip. Or
it can be visited while traveling north.
This is the largest rock formation in close proximity to Abuja City. The main axis of the Central District, it rises to nearly 400 meters above sea level and towers majestically in the background of the Three Arms Zone - so named because it is home to the Presidential Complex, the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court.
The term ‘Aso' means victory in the local language, and the local people are called “Asokoro” or the people of victory. The original village of Asokoro was first located at the base of the rock and had existed there for centuries. But the development of the new city resulted in the villagers being resettled initially in Suleja and subsequently in Kubwa District. The area of the village is now part of Asokaro district.
This range of hills is strategically located just beyond the outskirts of Maitama District, and the panoramic view from the top covers the whole Maitama Fistrict.
The Dutse range is a little further away, slightly off the Bwari road and just off Keffi-Suleja expressway. This area is a sanctuary for several forms
of wild life, the most notable among them being the baboons.
Another interesting attraction is the Abuja Plant Nursery at the foot of Aso Rock. This botanical garden has an amazing collection of species of flowers, fruits, trees and many other plants.
This consists of a restricted fenced in area of one hundred hectares of land, where visitors need special passes to enter. The purpose of the Arboretum, which is located in the Three Arms Zone, is to maintain the forest and other plant life within it in their original natural condition.
Tot: 0.065s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 15; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0322s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb