Family holiday in Naija
on Heather Saunders (Nigeria), 12/Nov/2010 10:24, 34 days ago
Please note this is a cached copy of the post and will not include pictures etc. Please click here to view in original context.

A few weeks ago Mummy and Daddy Saunders came to Nigeria, and I'm pleased to say... they survived! They found Nigeria, hot, dusty and pretty overwhelming at times, but had probably one of the most unique holidays they've ever had. They left full of praise, and plenty of 'When we were in Nigeria' stories to entertain you folks at home, finally replacing the stories about Uzbekistan.When I work out how to use Google Earth a bit better, I'll try and post a link to the route we took, but in the absence of that, I'll explain it. They arrived in Abuja on Saturday morning, and were greeted by thunder, rain, and me, arriving on Nigeria time, slightly late. Afternoon tea at the HiltonWe spent a couple of days in Abuja, where they were accomodated in the splendour of Crystal Palace, which I'd misleadingly described as 'luxury' (because I live in a house with no air conditioning or power, somewhere with both of these is luxury to me!) Whilst in Abuja we went to Wuse Market, where Mum bought some fabric and ordered a skirt, then they spent a lot of time acclimatising by the pool at the British Village. On Sunday we visited the national Christian centre and the national mosque, and later on to afternoon tea at the Hilton. Abuja is a very relaxing introduction to life in Nigeria, or it was, until the first taxi we took had a very near miss with a couple of 4x4s and had to do some formula one style swerving to avoid a crash. A service at the National Christian Centre, Abuja.After Abuja, our trip took us toKaduna, Zaria, Kano and Dutse. It was wonderful to see Nigeria through the eyes of tourists, the everyday things, which I'd stopped noticing, like lizards crawling everywhere, women carrying heavy loads on their heads, massive heads of cows for sale in the market and two goats being carried on a motorbike, were novelties for Mum and Dad. They even got some pretty good offers for my hand in marriage, I think 100,000 dollars was the record. On the way to Kaduna we stopped at Guara falls, where the place I'd picknicked in May was now 6 feet deep in rushing water, which would have swept away the strongest of swimmers. The view was breathtaking and the sound of the thunderous water crashing down the rocks, and sending up clouds of mist was deafening. Guara Falls.They had bravely agreed to stay in my house, to get the full Naija experience, not much power and limited running water, and they coped well, dad even made his famous lasagne for six, cooking in the dark with only a headtorch!We visited my NGO, Hope for the Village Child, as mum and dad had brought my old laptop with them for the health section - the section's existing laptop required a key inserted in the power switch to turn on, and needed constant power to work, which isn't so efficient in no power Nigeria- it was received with delight by the nurses, and is now in daily use. Whilst at HVC, we visited the community of Telele, where they were able to see for themselves the village school, built with HVC's support, with it's bare minimum of resources, which is actually well off compared to some schools where children sit on the floor. Telele primary school.From Kaduna we headed to Zaria, where we were greeted by my friend Hamza, who showed us around the Emir's palace and explained some of it's ancient history including the fearsome Queen Amina, who used to take men to her bed and kill them when she had finished with them! Outside the Emir's palace, Zaria.We arrived in Kano at another VSO house, where the compound was an oasis of calm after the fumes, dust and horns of the city. The next day Yusuf proceeded to take us on a whirlwind tour of the dye pits, Dala Hill and Kurmi Market, Kano's ancient market where slaves had been traded across the sahara. After a brief rest for lunch we carried on to the museum, Emir's palace and camel market, before collapsing into Annie's Place for some dinner. The next day we took a trip outside Kano, to a reservoir, where we were able to take a trip in a dug out canoe, paddled by fishermen. After this we went to a village where we were able to see traditional weaving in action, and tried rather less successfully ourselves. Writing all this has made me realise just how much we did in only two weeks, and this is the half way stage! Things slowed down a bit from here, as I realised we'd rushed around a bit too much in the heat. So we took it easy on our trip to Dutse, relaxing in Lucy's palatial house, and generally trying not to overheat. Here we saw our third Emir's palace, by far the most intricate and beautiful, and climbed 'the' tower for a view over the countryside, and an idea of just how small Dutse is.On our way back to Kano we stopped to take photos of the brightly coloured pots for sale by the roadside, and only bought a few. Our journey back to Abuja was broken up in Kano and Kaduna, and back in Abuja their reward for so many nights without air conditioning or running water was two nights in the Sheraton! It was really special to be able to show my family where I live, what I'm doing here, and how supportive all the other VSOs are. I think they've relaxed knowing I'm here, except for the road travel, too many near misses and frustrating check points may have marred the trip. But overall I was reminded of the potential of Nigeria as a tourist destination, with beautiful Emir's palaces, amazing landscapes and friendly people, there are so many reasons to come here. It makes the things which are stopping tourists -the difficulty of planning anything in advance, low level corruption at check points, and by petty police officers -even more frustrating.