What travel stories do you have?
Global travel blog that features travel stories on living, traveling and growing up in cities, villages and towns around the world!
The first time I came to Ibadan was in 2000 when I was seven; it was a sleepy journey sitting at the back of the car with my sister who was three then. What made me remember it so vividly was our trip to the Zoo and Trans Amusement Park. Growing up in Kogi State did not avail us the opportunity to visit amusement parks and recreational centres. It was a beautiful experience; we saw the two giant gorillas, crocodiles and the lions, and rode the Ferris wheel at the amusement park. The journey was smooth without drama or hassle, and my dad drove with mom on the front seat.
In contrast, my second journey 14 years later was very different. This was no jolly ride; I was in a rickety Peugeot 504 that looked like it would collapse soon. I did not sit comfortably; rather I sat squished like a sardine between three other passengers in the back seat. A man dressed like a Sheik, with a big black turban sat in the front seat beside the driver. A man in his twenties sat at the left end, while I sat at the right end. Between us, were two women who carried a white chicken. Apparently, one of them had a new grandchild, who would be welcomed with the chicken.
I had just been posted to Oyo State for my one year mandatory National Youth Service. Therefore, I was off to report to camp from my parents’ house at Auchi, Edo State. Dad had dropped me off at the car park at 6 AM so I could go with the first car. Alas, at 12 PM the first car was filled and the journey to Ibadan started. Commercial vehicles in Nigerian parks must be filled up with passengers before the journey starts.
The Driver was quite a character, he loved talking, loved his rickety car the way it was and had a penchant for insulting police officers. That was how the journey started, with Mr. Driver teasing the man for bringing his mother to the park. The main issue was that the man’s mother filled the booth with foodstuff, and refused to pay the driver extra. She argued with the driver for two hours before we moved, all that time her son was just nodding.
From Auchi to Ibadan there was a change of scenery - from the brown colour of Auchi, to the rich green rain forests of Owo and Erin, to the urban feel of Ibadan. I had spent six and a half hours on the road for a journey that should have been five hours seventeen minutes max. Anyway this is Nigeria. Nothing goes as planned.OA
“Woman wrapper, at this age your mama still dey control you,” the Driver scolded the man. When he realised the man was bent on ignoring him, he moved on to Sheik.
Together, they discussed women and children of nowadays. I listened until I was bored and promptly slept. Only to be woken up by the Drivers sharp stop. We had reached a police checkpoint, the police officer stretched out his palm to collect the bribe or the vehicle’s particulars (i.e. registration and other identifying documents). Our driver did the former and gave him ₦500; he was allowed to go free.
Once we left the area, the driver started raining curses on all uniformed people in the country. The Sheikh too started nodding; he went into a talk about how the corrupt police officer is the beginning of all vices in the country. Mr. Driver agreed saying if he did not give them money, they would have wasted his time. I knew deep down it would be one of two things, he was either driving with no particulars or he had expired papers.
By the time we got to Owo, a big town in Ondo State, I confirmed my fears. We were approaching officers of VIO (Vehicle Inspection Office), Mr. Driver slowed down again, and started fidgeting – he did not have his papers. He moved back suddenly and started speeding James Bond style towards the officers. The frightened officers cleared the way for him.
As he sped off, I spoke for the first time, “Oga Driver you wan kill person O.” The woman with the chicken also started shouting in Auchi dialect, the Diver did not respond. He just continued at his earlier tortoise pace.
We kept at this speed until we got to Erin, a town in Osun State that is home to the Olumirin waterfalls. Like someone under a spell, the Driver demanded we stop and rest. He parked the car at a roadside canteen and proceeded to go for lunch. On cue, everyone got down form the vehicle except me, I had little money and I planned to use it at Ibadan. The two women beside me decided to leave the chicken with me; I am scared of chickens. This is weird in Nigeria because almost everyone kills chickens during festive periods; my little sister once killed seven for Christmas day. Luckily for me, the chicken was preoccupied with eating corn and ignored me.
Thirty minutes later, the Driver returned and started yelling that we were already behind schedule. We started our rickety journey; I slept again. After another hour, we arrived at Iwo Road, Ibadan – the time was 6:30 PM. I packed up my luggage and alighted, ready to serve my nation. I looked at the dusty and rowdy area that made Auchi park look small and scanty. From Auchi to Ibadan there was a change of scenery – from the brown colour of Auchi, to the rich green rain forests of Owo and Erin, to the urban feel of Ibadan. I had spent six and a half hours on the road for a journey that should have been five hours seventeen minutes max. Anyway this is Nigeria. Nothing goes as planned.