This post is overdue but, as you know, inspiration strikes when it strikes. Anyways, surprisingly 2017 was my year of African travel. I spent an aggregate of over two months in total travelling across Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Morocco and I have to say… not all equally great, but entertaining across the board.
For example, Morocco is mad beautiful. Like we stayed in the old city in Marrakech for the duration of our visit and that was an awesome experience… but then bees attacked my breakfast and tried to murder me (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little) so, all in all, a great experience. But that’s the story of that trip. Riding ATVs in the Dessert (Yay!), immediately followed by a camel ride (not yay! – butt hurt; literally). Spending hours arguing with united airlines to fix my itinerary(definitely not yay!) then a scenic train ride to Casablanca to rendezvous with a friend and then catch a flight(yay!). An so on and so forth. Anyways, the net result was a fun experience. 8/10 would RAK again :).
Before Marrakech and the camels and the bees, I made my annual pilgrimage to Lagos, which as I said earlier, was the fourth of four Lagos trips in 2017. Interestingly, it was the least eventful. I mean I did the things that IJGBs do and went to restaurants and clubs and concerts but compared to my first trip of the year, which took me across Cotonou, Lome and Accra, it was pretty tame.
Speaking of Accra, the road trip to Accra in January 2017, was actually both exciting and educational. In the column of “Language woes”, There was this fun experience we had in Cotonou where, because Benin is a French speaking nation, and Dunni is not a French-speaking person, we couldn’t communicate with the people we wanted to buy things from or ask for directions or whatever. This was awkward and confusing for a while until we realized that, while the people didn’t speak English, they do speak Yoruba. It was an interesting perspective shift for me because with English as my primary language, I basically mentally translate Yoruba to/from English in my head while speaking it so the two languages had been inextricably linked in my mind. It was interesting to think about the idea of people mentally translating Yoruba to French instead and what that might look like. IN the end though, we found our common language ground and I was able to purchase the SIM card I needed to get on the internet and find where we would be staying for the night.
Made it to the hotel actually. Benin is a pretty country. pic.twitter.com/j9H0ZL5SpD
— Dunni (@DunniAbiodun) January 2, 2017
After a fun time seeing the sights in Cotonou, we headed to Lome by bus, which, as with everything involving humans, was more complex than it needed to be (someone ended up sitting on a crate of malt drinks for the bus ride). Lome was pretty and had fun sites but also was the place where I got to add and check off a new bucket list item – Crossing an international border by okada (motorcycle taxi). And then we were in Ghana.
By the way. Forgot to say. That’s what the Togo-Ghana border looks like. I think this is the Ghana side… pic.twitter.com/Y9K1SwFtHR
— Dunni (@DunniAbiodun) January 5, 2017
Accra is great! Better than Lagos in many ways (Jollof status notwithstanding). It had better malls, better fried plantain, a better airport and better customer service. Anyways, got to Accra hung out with family, and then caught a plane back to Lagos a day later. I didn’t get to spend as much time in Ghana as I might have liked but if things work out right for me this summer, that will be remedied. Otherwise, I guess I shall continue to admire from a distance.
After the west African road trip, I went home to Seattle, but not for long as 2 short weeks later, I was flying halfway around the world once more to land in Nairobi, Kenya. Nairobi is such a beautiful city and the Radisson Blu there is my new favourite hotel. My time in Kenya over the course of the year was a mixture of work and rest. We hosted an amazing conference called NexTech Africa in February where the Insiders4Good East Africa fellowship was announced, I got to visit Diani Beach and had my first experience of landing in an airstrip rather than an airport (it was really more of a dirt road tbh). The beach was mad relaxing and just what I needed after what had been a really stressful year leading up to the conference. We also did the Safari walk at the National Park, visited some Giraffes and watched some baby elephants at the elephant orphanage. Actually, while I definitely did all those things in Kenya, I don’t think it was all on the same trip as I went on to visit Kenya two more times before the end of the year.
All in all, travelling around Africa was broadly a positive experience and I would certainly recommend riding motorcycles across borders. It’s the little things that make life interesting. Now… Europe.