Home is a cocoon, safe and protective, lulling you into thinking ‘this is the world: a small universe where you are lord’. I love being reminded by nature how small (and inconsequential) I am in the grand scheme of things. It helps me to worry less, to get out of my own head, and absorb the wonder of things grander than I could ever attempt to create. Whether it’s walking through a forest or standing on the seashore or cutting through the skies in an airplane that seems so big on ground but so tiny in the vast skies, it helps me to relax in wonder.
I have always wanted to travel, yet I found excuses for not doing it nearly often enough: I don’t have a lot of money; I don’t have time off work etc. Then I figured that I could take a few days here and there and plan pocket-friendly trips. Over the past year, I have tried, from time to time, to get out of my primary environment when I can. I like to go to places, see things, have mini-adventures and just step outside of my everyday life.
Idanre Hills, Nigeria
For weeks, my partner and I debated where to go on a quick trip: Ikogosi, Olumo (I’d been there on my own shortly before) or Idanre. We finally settled on a weekend road trip to Idanre, Ondo State. I’d read about it and seen pictures, yet I wasn’t prepared for how preserved it was, or for how exhilarating the climb would be.
Coincidentally, our trip fell within the Mare Festival. There were mounted guards outside and quite the crowd on the grounds as people waited for events to begin. But the hills were pretty empty, and we got tickets and a guide and began our climb.
We climbed 660 steps to a point, and then walked around, from hill to hill, with the guide explaining the historical significance of different points, like the first primary school in old Oke Idanre, an old traditional court, burial places of important people, the shrine, a river etc. My favourite was the ancient Owa’s Palace that still had the clay statues of old slaves lining the courtyard. It was a glimpse of the art of that time.
I was glad to see how well-preserved the hills are, and how the people of the area have continued to preserve the traditions. Random thing was a chance meeting with Baba Oke, the head of the traditional worshippers in the area. After his initial scepticism – I got the sense that he’s not used to folks approaching him – he took the time to explain who he was and some of the traditions of the area. One weird one is, he must always sleep atop the hills.
Exploring Idanre Hills took about 4 hours. Olumo is the only other trip I’ve made that came close to that but Olumo is really small in comparison. I’d advise anyone visiting Idanre to dress comfortably though, and be ready to walk (a lot), and hold a bottle of water.