My Journey To The Top – Idanre Hills
Arriving in Idanre Town, we were surrounded by the imposing stony hills. It was like driving into a fortress, the hills serving as sentries to protect the vulnerable town in their midst. We drove to the Idanre Hills resort, and I jumped out raring to go. I took a gulp of water and munched some whole-wheat chin-chin to fuel my climb. Phone in hand and my camera around my neck, I was ready to scale this hill.
Did it not know who I was?!
I was ready to skip up this hill like Maria in The Sound of Music. Oh, how wrong I was….For those familiar with the show Scandal, “Idanre Hills Takes You. You do not take Idanre Hills”.
Whilst my fellow adventurers were skipping up the hill like mountain goats. I was huffing and puffing at the back. While seething with envy greener than the lush scenery, I regretted those long hours I had spent clicking away at my computer and nibbling on snacks. At the first rest stop, I stopped to rest and appreciate the view. Then, I threw up. This is no slight against the beauty of the place but I was exhausted and dehydrated at the time. I was ready to give up my climb to the top there and then. But my chief motivator stepped in, cajoled and encouraged me all the way to the top. He wasn’t the only one offering encouragement but well he was a motivator in chief.
No one ever mentions that Nigeria is beautiful. I was in awe of the beauty that was the hills and even had the power to go and see the old palace located further in the hills. It was amazing to see that these mud buildings were still standing after so many years.
I made it down the hill in high spirits, I had succeeded where I thought I would fail. However, I set my sights lower for Erin Ijesha aka Olomirin waterfalls. The rest of the adventurers had plans on reaching the seventh level and seeing the source of the waterfall. As for me, I decided to respect myself and chill on the 2nd level and wait for them to trek to the top and back. After all, I had reached the top of the falls before, in fitter days past, so why kill myself?
We made our way to Erin Ijesha, again I would like to point out that we live in a beautiful country. Places that should be the background of any Nolly, Bolly or Hollywood film. The lush greenery so thick that the road felt like an interruption in the business of the forest. Clouds wrapped around us as we made our way through the valleys.
I was ready for what I thought would be a short climb. So we made our way, paid our entrance fee and began our climb up. We reached the 1st and second levels, no major problems, maybe a bit winded but nothing a rest and a bit of a swim under the waterfalls couldn’t solve. This was the point at which I was ready to wave on my brave adventurers as they faced the rest of the climb up. But no my chief motivator would not hear of this and you guessed it I made it all the way to the top and to the source of the waterfall. My humble thanks to you. My experience on this trip would have been seriously diminished if not for his encouragement and that of others.
This climb was anything but easy and the sun did not make it any easier, but I made it. But not without losing something in the process. As somewhere leaping from rock to branch, my blue trousers decided to rest in the Lord and expose my pant to the whole world. I was too tired to be embarrassed by that point and the view more than made up for it. Also, a gentleman lent me his shorts so I could complete the climb with my dignity intact.
At the top of this mountain, there is a village where people seem to live in a different age. I could see no signs of running water or electricity. As I passed through this village, I could not begin to contemplate the vast differences in our lives and circumstance. It is humbling to realize that all we take for granted our phones however cheap, our beds, easy access to a good meal, the internet, the ability to decide to take a trip and go wherever we want is not just a luxury for some people but I bet unimaginable. Yet we live in this same country Nigeria.
We left the waterfalls and headed for Igokosi springs resort, where we spent the night. The springs were described as one of the natural wonders of the world. The only place where cold and warm water springs meet. The story is that the streams are the embodiment of two wives who are forever fighting, one with a hot temper the other with a cooler temperament.
The one thing that was consistent throughout the trip was the abundance of natural beauty everywhere you looked. At one point I felt like a Disney princess because of the many beautiful coloured butterflies that fluttered around me, unfearful. The fresh air that did not have that perfume of car exhaust, the joy that can be found in silence not punctuated by angry horns and the loud grumblings of generators.
The second was the lack of care or maintenance of these places at Erin Ijesha. At the falls were spread empty plastic water bottles and sachets, the bright packaging of a Pringle’s case. Even on the climb up you could not hide our presence through the plastic litter that marked our path to the remote village. In Idanre hills, the story was the same. Even Ikogosi once the pride of the Ekiti State government is showing signs of wear and tear. There we saw a poor monkey who was locked up inside a tiny dirty cage. The tour guide said he was from South Africa. This poor monkey in his cage was alone and has no real shelter from the elements. His cage is filled with dirty plastic wrappers. I say free the monkey let him go and live amongst his peers.
This is our land, our history and we should preserve it for our children’s children. What will we point to, and how do we tell them where we come from if it’s buried under a pile of plastic waste.