The loot

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 sure—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.

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25 thoughts on “The loot

  1. you brought yam back?

    did yall have excess luggage coming back?

    postcards in nigeria.. i think it's a nice idea… especially now that we have a better mail system…

  2. err the carvings are in the markets in Lagos, millions of them. well they were last time i was home….maybe your family did not know? I always get presents for oyibo friends. much cheaper than the airport

  3. Wow!!! Some one sure had fun in naija! I’m glad you had fun…and I am really happy you got some qwarrect (correct) ankara outfits…that’s the joy of the motherland! Lol at your mum’s bargaining skill… nice one!!! Make sure you update ASAP…my ears/eyes are itching…!

  4. gng, haba! you were looking for post cards in naija? LMAO! wrongest place. that was just hilarious!

    most nigerians are really not into souvenirs, except visitors, and even if they wanted i'm sure they know one inside market where they can get them.

    I'm glad you had fun!

  5. Welcome back!!!!!

    that 'looking for postcards in Naija' story is hilarious!!!!!

    We aren't quite geared for tourism the way we need to be. Maybe you can start making some postcards about your trip. And we can all help you by buying one!

    Can't wait for pics and more gist!

  6. Seems like you had fun. They probably dont sell postcards because I have never heard of any Nigerian actually living in Nigeria buying or sending a postcard. So obviously they would be in a place where the tourists would be.

  7. hmm, you brought food back eh? I may start showing up unanounced and uninvited to your house at dinner time ;)

    Those prices for the ankara sound cheap! of course I am converting everything to $ and it sounds reasonable to me. I cant wait to see you in them!

  8. OH, there are different places to find carvings and hand made jewelry, not just the airport. There is one place in lekki behind a market, they have plenty there. In Ibadan there are plenty too, from kokodome in dugbe to U.I ibadan. I wish people had advised u better on where to get such souvenirs. I get them all the time beautiful and cheap from those hausa people. i don't buy at the airport. Its too expensive and you have no time to lool and bargain. Some places have post cards but very very very few.

    There is absolutely everything and anything you want to get in naija, problem is that its hard to find them as they don't have great "marketing" skills. its on hearsay . Glad you had fun, I would be on my way to naija in a week and some

  9. I was actually thinking of u today and wondering when u'll be back. I'm glad u had fun with ur family.

    My sister has been in naija since the 4th of nov and she's coming back on Monday, if not i would have been harassing u for a copy of some of those CD's.

  10. Ha!

    You were in Naija!

    Sounds like you enjoyed yourself.

    But I'm sure you have loads to tell…..

    Pray share!

    Welcome back.

    Hope you are keeping well :)

  11. Sounds like you had so much fun. Reconnecting with family is (usually) a good thing! Glad you've now got some lovely ankara outfits that you can rock with pride: we would love to see pics! And more gist please….

    You just reminded me, I need to update my collection of Naija CDs when I go in a week or so. I'll also get my hands on a number of novels by Nigerian writers.

  12. about postcards: YOU WEREN'T LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACES O. WHERE IN NIGERIA DO YOU WANT TO GET POSTCARDS!

    SOUVENIRS AT THE AIRPORT???????????????????????????????????????????????????OH MY GOSH! 3000naira. I am sure you'd have gotten that same thing elsewhere for like 1000naira. I am not trying to blow the horns o…but all my encounters at the airport have wowed me. A bottle of Coke that goes for 40naira out-of-airport goes for 200 or 300naira there! Not to talk of carvings!

    CDs: well did you get any of the latest movies…bootleg? If you looked in the right places you'd see DVDs of movies that are not yet in the cinema. lol…no but seriously.

    I LOVE NIGERIA!

  13. Diamond Hawk

    My mom did and yes, we ended up with half of our luggage weighing in as excess :(

    Well somebody could make some money if s/he started selling postcards, at least in the "touristy" areas.

    wordsmith

    Your words make me want to cry! I don't know Lagos at all and the people we stayed with before leaving knew there were places to buy carvings but didn't have a chance to take us there. Next time I'll ask blogville for exact places and plan to stay in Lagos for a day or two just for shopping purposes.

    NoLimit

    I had SO much fun! I know so far I've only talked about what I got but it was a great time. I'm happy about the outfits too—woohoo!

    bumight

    :( Now you tell me! I should have asked blogville first before going looking.

    solomonsydelle

    Thanks for the welcome. Dang, am I the only dork who wants postcards when she's visiting somewhere? lol, oh well!

    Hmm, you've given me an idea!

    Temite

    I totally expected post cards to be where tourists would be–the airport–and at the post office. I didn't have any luck at either place though.

    Emeka Amakeze

    lol, I better hide my loot!

    aloted

    Thanks aloted one! I hope you enjoy yourself too if you know what I mean ;)

    Oya

    My mom brought food back, not I (more on that later–grrr!). You're welcome anytime, as long as my mom is around to cook the food!

    That's what I kept doing–converting everything to dollars and then not wanting to bargain because I felt like I was getting a bargain already! But you can't do that.

    FemiB

    Thanks for all these names of places to buy the things I was seeking. Now that I know I'm going to see if friends living in Lagos wouldn't mind sending me a care package. I feel bad because I'm reluctant to part with any of my treasures but at the same time I want to give some people souvenirs, you know?

    Hey wait a minute…you're headed to Naija…

    sting

    Aww, thanks for thinking of me. I made it back safe and sound and I did have fun with my family.

    If your sister wasn't such a packrat I'd ask her to bring me back some loot! I'm glad she's got your back for CDs too but if you do need any tracks she forgot, I'll hook you up :)

    Shannon

    I'll take pics and put them up soon! Contrary to what facebook shows I am working on it!

    tobenna

    I do have lots to share and thanks for the welcome! I've been very well…I'd like some gist from the newlywed man though :)

    Favoured Girl

    Ooooh, I didn't get a chance to look for books! Man I can't wait to hear what you discover. Have a great trip!

    Seye Kuyinu

    And I thought I did well to pay 3000 naira! If you're not careful I'll be recruiting you to send me some loot (I'll pay for it and the postage, naturally).

    lol I didn't get any of the latest movies…didn't have time! And what are you talking about: any CDs or DVDs for sale in Naija are the real deal…no one makes bootleg copies ;)

    afrobabe

    I sure did and I sure will! No men followed me home, alas.

  14. Is is wrong that this is the post I've been waiting for? You got a lot of good stuff. Those are some great cds you picked up, I wont lie that 2face is so so sha.

    You gotta love moms she worked the man down to 3000, that is great.

    Glad you got some great ankara styles.

  15. seemed you had fun!!give us more gist!where did you go!what did you do!!was everyone happy with what you bought for them?did pple try to 'obtain' your stuff

  16. hey i jus put ur song up!!

    feel free to sing again :)

    thanx sooo much for sending it in babe

  17. Jealous of your time with family — that too is one of the things that I wish I could do more easily here in the States. Also jealous of the warm weather as it is snowing and 20-some degrees here. Jealous too of the wonderful, home grown, fresh food you must have eaten.

    I guess the only thing I don't envy is the jet lag you may have experienced in returning. Though I hope you are adjusting well. ;-)

  18. aww im glad you had fun and stocked up on cds and stuff! my seamstress in 9ja usually has so many fly ideas I dont have to give her magazines wither. Im going to 9ja in like 2 weeks…cant wait!!!!!!!!!

  19. I recently fell in love with ankara…when I go back to Lagos this Christmas I think I'm going to make like 30 dresses (okay so that was a gross exaggeration but you get my point)

    Glad you got a lot of stuff though…makes for great memories :)

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