Thank you for the welcome! It’s good to be back (although I won’t lie: I miss my family and the warm weather). I seriously don’t know where to start with recounting my trip. While I was away, I had a notebook where I jotted down things I wanted to remember and because of that I’ve got lots to say!
The highlight of the trip for me was just being able to hang out with FAMILY. It was so so wonderful to spend time with both grandmothers, my aunts, uncles, and COUSINS! The level that I was able to interact with my extended family is something that I thoroughly enjoyed, and will never forget. I’ve always told my oyinbo friends who talk about celebrating Christmas or going on vacations with their extended family that that’s what we miss most living away from our extended family: not having that huge network of people around who have your back (or who collectively throw you to the wolves when you deserve it!). Knowing that there’s no chance that you’ll run into your aunt while you’re at the mall, or that a cousin will call and say they’re in the neighbourhood are little things that I miss but when we were in Nigeria we got to experience what it’s like to have family around all the time. I’ll be writing more specifically about family later.
I had some materialistic goals for this trip, and I accomplished most of them:
I bought lots of music
I added the following cds to my almost nonexistent Nigerian music collection:
2Face – Enter The Place
9ice – Gongo Aso
Banky W – Mr. Capable
Buga – Never Say Die!
D’banj – RunDown Funk U up
D’banj – The Entertainer
D’banj and Mo’ Hits – Curriculum Vitae
Faze – Originality
Plantashun Boiz – Plan B
PSquare – Game Over
Styl Plus – Back and Better
Tosin Martins – Happy Day
+ 2 mix CDs
For those planning to buy music while in Nigeria, I was told that 100-120 naira for an audio cd is a good price (at least where I was staying).
I got some ankara and made some outfits
I totally rocked this goal! I ended up with one lace skirt and blouse (worn during my grandmother’s birthday party), five skirt and blouse sets (ankara), one ankara dress and one ankara skirt. I haven’t worn most of these things, but we kept buying and receiving ankara as gifts, so I kept getting it sewn. Dat1orikachick was spot on when she said I could find designs easily in magazines in Nigeria but I didn’t even have to do that: the seamstress who made the majority of my outfits had magazines that we could pore through and she could copy styles and mix and match as needed. I am very pleased with my outfits, and I’ll definitely be wearing something traditional to the upcoming Yoruba association Christmas party. I’m happy to finally have ankara styles that actually fit my body, instead of those horrid mumu styles!
Ankara prices were (after bargaining) 1100 naira and up for six yards of fabric and the price to sew was on average 1000 naira for a skirt and blouse, with dresses and skirts half to two thirds of that price. Of course the more complicated the skirt or blouse, the higher the price. Yeah, I know, pictures would really help. I don’t really have any pictures of me in my ankara so I’ll have to take them as I go along.
I got some (but not nearly enough) souvenirs
This is the only area where I wish I had done more. Almost the second we arrived in Nigeria, I started looking for a place to buy postcards so I send them right away. I could not find a single postcard where I was staying, and it was not for lack of trying! Even post offices did not stock postcards. Every time I asked vendors for postcards, and described what I wanted, I was offered greeting cards. It makes sense that vendors in the market wouldn’t be selling many of them but surely a post office or the airport should have had some? Maybe I was just looking in the wrong place.
The one type of souvenir that I wanted to fill my luggage with was wooden carvings. One day we went to the market and asked at least ten different vendors, and each one would direct meto yet another vendor who would direct us to another person. Finally we gave up and decided to wait until we got to the one place where they sold these sorts of souvenirs for sureâ€”the airport.
I was also interested in handmade accessories and jewelry. For reasons I will explain later, what was supposed to have been a leisurely (at least 2 hour) perusal of the aforementioned souvenir items in the airport ended up being a five minute interaction with a vendor who packed four gorgeous carvings into a bag, added a wooden elephant, then told me it was worth 6500 naira but he’d give it to me for 6000. I countered with 4000 naira, he said 4500. My mom, exasperated and sure we were going to miss the plane said we weren’t paying a kobo over 3000 naira, take it or leave it, and he took it. That is how I ended up with some carvings (pictures to come). I also got two leather bracelets.
Someone needs to explain to me why you only have access to these souvenirs at the airport, after you have gone through immigration and are on your way to board the plane. I’m ok with them being only in the airport but why can’t they be before you even check in (and before you’re in a rush)?
Anyways, that’s the majority of my loot. Although I didn’t grow up enjoying Tom Toms or eating Hob Nobs, I had heard others talk of them so I made sure we picked up some of those too. All these things, combined with some food items (elubo, yam, ede, garri) meant we returned to Canada with suitcases that were heavier than when we left.