Back to Base

BACK TO BASE

Well, how does one write about a road trip and not make it boring?

Let me start with the title – not exactly correct. Ibadan is of course my original base (no, I am not a native of Ibadan) where I spent my growing up years. Now Lagos is my base.

So I decided a week or so ago that I was going to Ibadan this weekend. Couldn’t make it yesterday due to some important engagement. This morning was a no-no as well, because we had a technology update event for one of our client (a big bank). My luggage was already in the trunk of my car, so I could head for the wide open road (reminds me of the toad in the stop-motion animation “Winds in the Willows”). I decided against all reason to take the Lekki-Epe road to Ibadan. This is a lonely long road most people avoid unless the Ibadan expressway was a no-go due to some reason. Of course people (such as my mum and my colleague) advise against it for safety reasons – “What if something happens? What if you lose a tyre and you are stuck on some lonely stretch of the road, etc”

I have traveled the road before of course – as a passenger, but never alone and wasn’t the one doing the driving. So I decided doing it at least once was in order. Besides, I love the open country-side which we who dwell in the concrete jungle of “central” Lagos never see much of nowadays.

I hit the Lekki road, paid the toll (what can I do, I am still enriching the big boys in government who are many times richer than I am) and was soon on the expressway. Stopped at a petrol service station to have the pressure in my tyres checked. Then punched Ibadan into the Garmin GPS unit and it came up with a bunch of options, so I chose “Queen School, Ibadan” which was as good as any. Well, the GPS unit wanted me to turn around (meaning it had calculated a route through Ibadan expressway). No can do. So I ignored all the entreaties of the “lady in the box” to turn around for the next 30 minutes or so. Finally, after I was on the Lekki-Epe road proper, it gave up and recalculated the route, so we then got on the same travel page.

I had the radio on and some nice tracks were being broadcast from one of the stations. I don’t mind being on the road alone, but of course it would have been better to have some companionship (no male, female – yes, but not all comers 🙂

I could remember the Epe bridge with the thatched huts beside it from a previous trip and after driving for what appeared to be ages, I started wondering if I hadn’t made a wrong turn somewhere – but of course it was impossible to make a wrong turn on a straight road. Finally I got to the bridge, then crossed the big river – I assume “Epe”.

The road went on and on without end, but it was nice to see that the GPS unit knew the way to Ibadan through Epe then Ogun state.  Lots of potholes, and the traffic while not heavy, was constant for a while. Sometime after Epe, the traffic died down and I had very light company on the road. I made a wrong turn and headed for the Benin road, but I had a nagging feeling that I should have crossed the expressway to the town on the other side rather than followed it. After driving a few kilometers, I turned round and confirmed my suspicions from an attendant at a petrol station by the road side. The GPS unit had in the meantime worked out some route along the Benin road, so it kept trying to get me to turn back. But once I headed into the town, it recalculated the route again and we were on the straight and narrow once again (though I had to ignore the first turn it suggested – I think it was trying to get me to go to Benin – bloody traitor!)

Then it started to rain on and off intermittently. I like the rain – especially if I am “in-doors” and that goes for being in a water-tight car on the road as well.

Went through a couple of towns again (quite busy) then hit the old expressway that goes to Ibadan. Had relatively steady company in the form of vehicles going both ways. And the road went on and on and on (you get the idea). But it was OK, I wasn’t speeding – I think I was doing about 60 or 80 most of the journey. Took me close to 3 hours from Victoria Island to get to Ibadan, but it was devoid of the craziness that is the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

I saw a road kill, but couldn’t be sure what it was – too mangled – could see some skin and hair so it may have been a goat or something.
At some point a pigeon crossed the road – it was either blind or ill – it practically walked under my tyres – I thought I must have squashed it but somehow I missed – I could see it in my rearview mirror as it continued steadily across the road – I hoped it made it across.

Got into Ibadan and the traffic was OK until I hit the road from Dugbe to Mokola. From there I crawled all the way to Oremeji. The traffic in Ibadan is due to the various road/bridge constructions going on.

No electricity as usual, but the government is delivering on her promise to ensure some little village in the outer wilderness is able to receive radio transmissions from the Oyo state radio corporation (or whatever it is called) rather than from radio stations in the neighboring states. So the “Special Adviser on Parastatals” was there along with the “Special Assistant on Parastatals” (no, I am not making this stuff up) and an army of government officials and other hangers-on to declare the station open. How much did that little trip cost the good people of Oyo state? I guess the “little people” in the village can use batteries to power their little radio sets to listen to the bounteous station provided by the state government (“aye da de”). Yet, there is consistently no electricity supply from the grid (and I am watching the TV on a little inverter).

I think I have the “flu” (do people outside of the good old USA get the flu?) or Malaria. It started a couple of days ago. It was slightly “developing”. Now I feel sh**ty. At least it waited till I got to Ibadan. And if it’s going to bring on a complete break-down as I suspect, there is no place else I had rather be.

* aye da de – life is getting better.

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