Month: September 2018

Explore Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain Resort.

What You Need to Know Before You Explore Obudu Cattle Ranch

In December 2017, after a lot of saving, planning and excitement. I was able to tour Cross River state for a week. My first vacation without my family. Oh how I felt fulfilled! I shared a picture diary on my Instagram page. But I’m not just here to talk about how awesome the trip was. That’s a lie..I am. This is the surprise post I mentioned in my weekly Sunday update, Just So You Know.

The entrance of Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain Resort.

I’ll be sharing travel tips, giving an estimate of my expenses and things to do while at Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain Resort. Over the past decade travelling Nigeria for holiday leisure and adventurous exploration has been on the raise. With many indigenous tour and travel firms offering affordable, secure and fun packages, it can be daunting doing it personally. But this post will give you helpful travel advice. My love for exploring Nigeria and Africa is as high as Kilimanjaro. I’ve seen breathtaking wonders of nature on my trips.

What expenses are you making?
Without sufficient funds travelling can be disastrous. I’ll share my expenses during my tour of Cross River State. I won’t want you to find creating a budget difficult. Note that these prices might have changed.

TRANSPORTATION
Road Travel is an option if you don’t mind the hours. ABC Transport and GIGM offer affordable, trustworthy transporters
Flight Tickets can be as low as 16,000 or as high as 27,000 depending on when you book online with your desired airline.
Within Cross River, public cab fares cost way more. Seats in Ikom cabs at Calabar cost N2,000. Passengers are stuffed into these caravans. We paid for an extra seat at the back. Usually, two passengers sit in front, four sit in the middle and three at the back. At Four Points in Ikom, seats to Obudu Town cost N1,500 with similar sitting arrangements. From Obudu Town up to the Ranch cost N2,000. The cab driver was our guide since the Ranch workers were on strike. We and another couple paid N6,000 for his service. This money included our fare back to Obudu Town but with other passengers.

ACCOMMODATION

Jorany Hotel Resort, Ikom

I stayed at my ex-partner’s resident at State Housing Estate in Calabar so I can’t give price quotes for hotels there. You can search out affordable hotels on Hotels.ng. In Ikom I stayed at serene Jorany Hotel Resort at N20,000 per night. They also take payment in dollars. The spacious, clean room was on the ground floor. Accommodation at the Mountain Resort starts from 45,000 up to N500,000.

FEEDING AND SOUVENIRS
You should treat yourself to delicacies like Afang or Edikiakon soups with warm fufu, white rice and spicy chicken pepper soup, suya and jollof rice, etc. The average plate of food from bukas at Ikom cost N700-N1,500 depending on what you buy. In Calabar, souvenirs at the Marina Museum cost N5000 upwards for Ankara dresses, straw hats, mini sculptures, films, etc. Original Honey was the only thing sold at the Canopy Walk entrance by Ranch dwellers. The smallest bottle, large Eva water bottle, cost N1,000.

View of mountains from highest mountain in Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain Resort, Cross River.

What activities should you do at Obudu Cattle Ranch?
• Canopy Walk: was one of the fun things I did while on the Ranch. This Canopy is the first canopy installation of the company that laid the Lagos Conservation Centre canopy walk. It was just two bridges that led to a tall metal tower. The Ranch from above the tower was a magnificent view. The Canopy Walk is part of the Nature Reserve that has a Fern Tree Groove, Monkey tree views.

• Cable Ride: Is a paid ride that carries tourists high across the golden valley, grand mountains and chilled, misty landscape.

• Drive to the Presidential Villa etched on the highest mountain. Through snaking roads, past lodges, huts, settlements. You’ll drive through chilly, fog cloaked air to the top of the highest mountain. From the front of the Villa you can echo to the dipping, dark green, valley and neighbouring mountains. It’s a wondrous sight. The huts, apartments and villas are all on mountains or their sides. Little wonder it’s called the Mountain Resort.

Grotto at Obudu Cattle Ranch, Obudu, Cross River.

• Walk around the Grotto. The lush, golden landscape leads to a natural pool. It was a breathtaking. airy, golden landscape. This place made me whisper, ‘Cross River is a stunning beauty’ repeatedly. It’s N1,000 to access the Grotto.

• Visit the indigenous Obudu-Fulani settlers living at Banana Island nestled between 3-4 mountains on the Cattle Ranch. You can ask your guide to drive you there.

• Ask your guide for historical facts about the Ranch, settlers’ myths and other things you can do. When we drove from the Ranch entrance up to the first Hill curve. there was a sign post. Our driver said a high ranking military official had run the distance back when the Ranch was being created. That sign post is named after him in honour of his efforts of uniting tribes and encouraging hard work. If you see it, share its picture and tag me!

How do you get to Obudu Cattle Ranch?
First Route
You can take a flight to Enugu. At the Enugu International Airport take public cab to Ikom. At Four Points in Ikom you can get a cab ride for N1,500 to Obudu Town. Get another public cab ride up to the Ranch for N2,000.
You can get a bike ride to the town from the Ranch. Usually the bike rider switches off the bike and it rolls down the sloppy, twisting hill in a thrilling, lifetime ride. I didn’t do this because I’m afraid of unleveled, sloppy heights. On the Ranch there are public cabs that carry Ranch dwellers and tourists to a cab park in Obudu Town. Remember how you got, there then go back.

Road up mountain sides in Obudu Cattle Ranch.

Second Route
You can take a transporters bus trip to Calabar. I was on the road from Jibowu ABC park at 7am and got their Calabar park at 9pm. I love road travel. It exposes me to the sensational landscape, unpopular treasure sights, communal life and Nigerian socio-politics. Once you are at Calabar. Ikom car park at Calabar is called Mobil by MCC, bedside Conoil station. You’ll get a 4hrs drive in a public caravan to Ikom. I’d advice you lodge at an hotel and rest.

At Four Points in Ikom you can get a cab to Obudu Town, which is a 4 hours drive. I liked how traffic-free Cross River expressways and highways were. The mountainous land mass is extremely vast. Road travel between the state capital, Calabar and neighbouring local governments, eg Ikom, Obudu takes hours. From Obudu Town you’ll get another cab to take you into the Ranch. It takes two and a half hours to get back to Ikom from Obudu Cattle Ranch. To leave Cross River, you either go back by road travel or a flight at Margaret Ekpo Airport in Calabar.

Margaret Ekpo Airport, Calabar.

I remember the drive back to Ikom. As the sun set, it’s rays illuminated the cold, translucent air. The air I breathed was clean and crisp. It was chilled like someone had left the air conditioning on out there on the tarred two lane highway. The trees and mountain silhouettes smelt like fragrant pastries because of the cocoa farms and plantations lining the road aides.

Important!
•Find out if the staff of Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain Resort are on strike before you visit or book for Ranch lodgings. When I and my ex-partner went they were on strike. I was so grateful we decided against lodging on the Ranch. It was our local cab driver that we and other couple paid to be a tour guide. We couldn’t access the Cable Ride, Grotto Pool and some parts of the Ranch.

•Have a travel read o. Mine was The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin. Pick a paperback book that will be interesting. I’d advise either a witty poetry collection, intriguing short story collection, fantasy or mystery or African literature best seller. I say paperback because the drive from Ikom to Obudu and back takes over 7 hours. Boredom follows wonder after a while. The landscape and excitement can distract you from focusing on business, career or school books. Network is poor, so listening to online audio books or book podcasts will be frustrating. Your battery should be saved for emergency calls or taking pictures. Reading an ebook will drain it.

My humorous and dramatic Cross-River tour read

•Don’t take pictures at stops with military or police check points. It can be an oversight because the silhouette of large mountains beautifully fill the horizon. The device can be ceased and you might get harassed.

•Have safe places to keep cash because ATMs and POS are scarce once you leave Ikom. The highway cuts through fragrant cocoa plantations and outskirts of towns.

•Wear warm clothing. Obudu town itself is colder than the highway between it and Ikom. Nobody warned me about the temperature. Don’t wear shorts like I did. You can slay in Ankara maxi dresses, denim trousers and basically warm chic clothing. Your footwear should be hiking friendly. Being comfortable while climbing, walking and hiking is paramount. Don’t miss the sights because of sore feet.

•Write out your emergency contacts. Have a means of identification on you at all times. It can be your national, school or work I.D. Your phone battery might run out. For security reasons text your next of kin, family, close friends. They should be updated of your journey progress and stops where you are being harassed. A text is an admissible electronic evidence. Stay safe and be smart.

All the best with you wanderlust Gemstone!

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Reasons Why

Realizing I needed a memoir to document my queer experiences wasn’t instantaneous. I’ll say it’s born from a hunger for diversity in the African queer narrative I read. Being bisexual is not a survival lifestyle for me. Neither is it a freaky Friday escapade with a boyfriend and olosho. Nor is it a way of getting comfortable with being a lesbian. Although the available narratives don’t ascribe to these annoying, societal assumptions. But my stories are mine.

I feel it’s a further reflection of how I, myself am a blend of complimentary, unsuspecting differences. Many bold queer women are inspiring love, acceptance and diversity across the African continent. I just want to share my thoughts, erotic adventures and experiences. If it informs, inspires or arouses you. Then that’s a plus.
Oh! Did you think this would be an essay on why I’m queer? I’m so much more than illicit texts and online comments. Zaza is my life memoir and I’d love you to enjoy m|

The click-click-tap of my typing pauses. My left fingers leave the black keyboard. They wrap around my ringing phone. The plain, black, thumb ring, gem encrusted index and pinkie fingers knuckle rings musically tap it’s Eko-bridge, my plate number, yellow tricycle artistically drawn case, raising it. The blinking screen shows Chi Richards and below it; Emergency Contact, Food Entrepreneur. Seeing this makes me smile then swipe left, forgiving the interruption.

‘Hey Boo?’ my soft voice inquires.
‘Heyy you! Quick one, what do you rub on your vajayjay tears?’ Chi asks in a usual breezy tone. The question stuns me for a nanosecond. You’d think it’s an inquiry into the weather at Opebi.
‘Vajayjay tears?’ I repeat to get clarification as I lean back onto the cylindrical rungs of the clear, plastic chair that looks like an ice sculpture.
‘Yeah, you told me once. Shea butter, coconut or olive oil, I’m unsure. Tears from rigorous sex Zaza.’ the breezy tone sounds silky. Warming my cheeks with a blush.
‘Chi, who calls someone in the middle of the day while they’re sorting their lives out to ask such questions!’
‘Someone who is a BEST FRIEND’, a sweet response sings in my small ear.
‘Probable! probable Bestie.’
‘Look Shea butter is slow. Coconut or olive oil? Which oil heals tears faster o?’ his silky Nigerian accent has a hint of impatience so I stop teasing.
‘Actually olive oil, just rub it on the tear and it works. But shea butter works fast for me. Coconut oil is a natural lubricant.’ I say while pulling a clomp of brown kinky coils from my nape bun. If Chi was here my right matte lemon finger nails would get smacked. Hand-in-hair syndrome has been my 6 years long, naturalista struggle. Continuing I inquire, ‘I’m curious,who tore something?’ Then wiggle my filled-in eyebrows.
‘Uhn, I did. Before you start preaching. It was that new guy. He was so intense and yes attentive to my pain.’
‘Chinedu Richards! First of all I don’t preach. Secondly, of course shea butter would be slower for a butt tear. Dude! Pele. Wait, intense eh? Gist me o.’ Concern and intrigue filters through my voice as I rest my left elbow on the cool, silver, balcony railing.
‘Zaza I will but later. I have some boxes to give these delivery babes. They just arrived. Gtg. Love you babe.’ His hurried tone makes me smile and blow three kisses.
‘Oh by the way guess who had 600 page visits in two days? I did! It’s amazing the effects of implementing She Leads Africa’s social media marketing training email series. I got numerous orders and follows also. I’m running out of the Naija Party Jollof scent.’ Interrupting Chi I exclaim, ‘I hope you kept the batch I want to give as wedding souvenirs!’ I sit up then burrow my gold, glittering toes deeper in my grey fur balcony slides.
‘I got you babe. I kept your box aside, immediately you paid. I need to go.’ he insists. ‘Congrats on your increased instagram engagement. Watch out for my post today. It’s taking about tips for buying air-fresheners that match one’s decoration theme.’ I rush talk to the silence.
‘K, bye!’ our call ends with me smiling.

• • •

I remember meeting Chi during NYSC. We didn’t click immediately. But after a series of random interactions and whatsapp status viewing we got closer. He was surprised I had began blogging since my fine-art polytechnic days. Also impressed I’d began an interior decoration business after some trainings before gaining a BS.c admission. It was nice befriending a bold, supportive man with beautiful skin. I was shocked someone could study perfumery. With both of us having business trainings we had being queer and creative in common.

Utilising his lessons from his parents catering services and a research team. He released what would change the Nigerian air-freshener and perfume industry forever. Naija Aroma, sells scents that capture our Nigerian food aromas. Want your car to smell like you’re hiding a pack of Party jollof rice under your seat? Or your office to smell like yummy, hot dodo or chilled zobo? That’s why I’m happy my batch is safe. After initial difficulty getting investors and nation-wide recognition. It’s delightful seeing Naija Aroma join international innovative companies.

A blurry site icon comes into focus as I snap out of my reverie. It’s my blog icon making me guilty. I left it’s drafts for Evernote. I navigate the mouse to click on the icon. My dashboard fills the screen. Rubbing the small, black patch on the keyboard like a lover’s clit, I click preview. After proofreading Tips: Buying Home Air-Freshners. I close the preview smiling at my site icon. Its a picture of the dark brown work table in my study. The space in the middle with the blog name is framed with minature sculptures and wooden figurines, small yelow-orange flowers sticking a recycled glass pot, a pair of my father’s vintage glasses, mint green pens, a custom ankara notebook, split and full agbalumo and littered black velvet awin fruits. I remove my eyes from Zaza’s Decorations & Collectibles hovering above a mishapened head figurine on the right angle of layered sofa fabrics beside a tiny glass saucer with milky orange agbalumo halves.

Lemon flies over black keyboard, as I type a conclusion of the post. Health concerns, home decor themes and prices, are great considerations when buying air-fresheners. You want to buy an air-freshener that not only smells good. But is dispensed from chic recyclable containers. After all, you don’t want to find out cheap air fresheners are a contributory cause of lung cancer later in life. How your house smells is as important as your customised throw pillows and family portraits. Don’t forget to keep the air freshners away from children and pets. Especially if you buy those gel ones shaped as fruits and sweets by AirEat. Scintillating scents from Naija Aroma are dispensed from artsy sculptures. It’s what makes them premium scents. Keep them high away from disturbing jolts or fingers.

When you order from any of the linked companies, money from my 5% discount code is donated to Lagos Food Bank. Use the discount code, ZAZA fellow enthusiast! Don’t forget to tag me pictures of your beautiful air fresheners.
May your day be decorated with goodness.
Zaza.

After saving and previewing I click publish then view the post. Satisfied with how images from my study and brand account of referred companies add visual inspiration to the post. I smile as a comment pops up. You write about simple daily objects beautifully, RoseP17 comments. ‘My genuine gratitude’ is what I type back. I’d already shared a shorter version of this post on my Instagram. It’s the caption of a shot of my library shelves with a minature metal Olopo pot, newly released novels from Parresia and Farafina publishers and a small bowl of purple pears. The native pears are actually pear-scented gel AirEat air-fresheners. The pot is the container of Naija Aroma’s best selling Naija Party Jollof scent.

I sigh and look out the balcony. I push the laptop towards the middle of the clear plastic table. Notification zings ring out from my phone as I eat yellow yoghurt through my full lips. Beams of sunlight hit the table’s circular edge and does a glitter rainbow dance. Breeze brings cool air, conversations in Yoruba and honking traffic noise. I feel at peace. If I could, Laide would be mine but instead she sent me her wedding invite and aso-ebi. She said her relationship with Jimi wasn’t too serious. Why did she bother sparing my feelings? After all my flirting, support, fantasies and money spent at the food festival. I don’t get the girl. My pearl-white teeth chew currants and broken almonds in the yoghurt. After I get out of my white, strappy bodysuit and into the bathtub. I’d finish my notes on reasons why. Or so I promise my sad heart.

 

•Reasons Why is a ZAZA entry. ZAZA is a heartfelt queer memoir of self love, sensuality, erotic sex and romance. 

The Summer of Jordi Perez

THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ (AND THE BEST BURGER IN LOS ANGELES) by AMY SPALDING.

Something I guess what I hadn’t forseen about falling in love with someone is how much your heart can ache to take away their pain.’

‘When you’re making your way through the world in a look you feel confident about, everything feels easier’.

Abby and her summer romance tale slayed my life in August. Which is why I’m sharing my thoughts about this highly recommended novel. I read each chapter like one relishing tiny bits of their favourite chocolate bar. Every night after a productive day I’d curl up under my cotton covers and read two to three reward chapters. Initially I was sceptical about this book. It was named after another female character the heroine was competing with but crushing on.  But I now agree with Julie Murphy, this novel is truly a dreamy, queer, fat girl rom-com. I know how many times I have read fat or plus-size heroine chicklit or romance novels which were disappointing. But not with this novel. It’s a witty, young adult, queer romance novel. Genres I love! I read this at a time when I’d just uplifted my body confidence which took a dip. Being a thick babe, I could relate with Abby’s sentiments on full body pictures and her worries about online fat shaming. Amidst her fashion blogging, Abby landed her dream internship. Abbs, career babe, colorful fashionista!

It was comedic. Just when Abby’s worries and observations would scurry around pages. Her goofy friends and plot ironies would lighten the mood. This was my favourite funny conversation;

‘Are you crying?’ Jax asked with a horrified edge to his voice. ‘No!’ I am lying. Lying and crying. He sort of scatters extra napkins near my face, which–despite my tears–makes me burst into laughter. ‘Why are boys so scared of girl feelings? I ask. ‘Abbs, I’m a feminist’, he says. ‘I’m equally scared of all feelings.

I know! Jax and Abby spent the summer eating burgers and reviewing them as part of data collection for his father’s soon to be launched rating app, Best Blank. I mused about having a friend who would pick me up in a fancy car to eat free burgers for research. Then I remembered every other Friday evening my sis and I drive around Ojo to get great shawarma to eat. I am living the life!

Mailah who is Abby’s best friend disappointingly spends most of summer with her boyfriend Trevor. Jordi Perez, the other intern and photographer is an adorable and talent young woman.  All the swimming parties, restaurant hunting, parents avoiding, kissing, photography and fashion aside. I love this fat girl narrative. The writing is simple, clear, witty, reflective, engaging and flows beautifully. Set in Los Angeles, I loved how different characters like Abby’s mother and her health eating business were some form of antagonist contradiction for Abby. Look Jordi, Jax, Abby and Mailah thought me a bunch of lessons about forgiveness and rebuilding trust with effective communication, trying out new things and finding work balance in a romantic relationships or friendship.

More info

‘And to all the girls who worry they take up too much space: you don’t’.. these are the words Amy Spalding ends her acknowledgement with. Amy lives in Los Angeles and has a B.A in Advertising and Marketing Communications. This is her sixth book. Check out her other novels at her site.  Sky Pony Press, New York published this novel in 2018.