To those of you who asked questions about staying in the village, my mom would correct you rather quickly and tell you that Akure is not a village, that it is the capital city of Ondo state and its largest city to boot, with a population of approximately 387 087 people (thanks, Wikipedia). Of course it’s a very small city compared to Lagos (according to wiki the population of Lagos is over 17.5 million? Wow!), but it’s a city nevertheless. And like most places, there are parts with paved roads, running water and (thanks to generators) air conditioning and electricity, but there are also parts that are kicking it oldschool, with a small generator when needed, no running water and dirt roads. My grandmother’s youngest sister lives two streets over and her house puts my parents’ place to shame, it’s so fancy inside.
To answer other questions, I was last in Nigeria in 2008 and I hope to go either this year or in 2011. It’s my preference to go in October/November so that I can miss out on some of the chilly weather here, but my co-travelers (mom and sister) want to go earlier in the year. December in Nigeria sounds like it would be too hectic for me, and to be honest I like spending Christmas with all my immediate family and since my brothers don’t have the money to go to Naija anytime soon, Christmas must be in Canada.
There were so many other great suggestions for things to bring to naija as relates to the bathroom and personal grooming:
- flashlight – this is a must! Actually I have to talk about flashlights in a separate entry
- personal cleansing products (body wash with salicylic acid in it, deodorant – the natural kind, hand sanitizer, Evian facial spritzer (I love this idea…I’ll be sure to bring a few spray bottles to fill with water, just in case aerosol cans aren’t allowed on the flight), body splash/perfume (I may not do this due to not wanting to attract mosquitoes), toothpaste, sponges, face wash, etc.)
- a caftan (love this idea of having something fancier than a towel wrapped around me when I’m going to bathe)
- insect killer (a must for me, seeing as I’m such a chicken!)
- insect repellant (I’m adding this one to the list)
Omosi had a great suggestion that’ll come in handy if my luggage is too heavy this time around: When we land in Lagos I can buy some of my supplies there, saving space in the suitcases. If there’s anything missing from the above or from this entry, do speak up!
For me, planning the trip is most of the fun, from sorting out what to bring/what not to bring, packing things efficiently to mapping out how to see everyone we want to see and making sure we have enough time to do everything.
Today I want to talk about clothing and accessories. Last time, I packed too many items that I didn’t wear once in nearly four weeks. I had two large suitcases, both oversize (though, to be fair my mom had packed a lot of stuff in my luggage), but even if you remove all my mom’s cargo, I still had far too much stuff. I was amazed that Adaora (her blog no longer exists) managed to pack all her things into a suitcase small enough to be her carry-on! Her reason was she doesn’t trust the airline to make sure her clothing would make it to Naija but still, she blew me away.
This time, I’m focusing on lightweight pieces that can do double duty or be layered/remixed to create different looks. There’s this miracle dress that would be fabulous but it does not come in my size (and I do not have the body to rock it). I’d rather run out of clothing and have to wear something twice in a row than bring a bunch of stuff for nothing (the exception is undergarments where the rule there is the more the merrier!).
But those of you who are seasoned travelers, what clothing items or shoes are absolute musts? Here are mine (keep in mind I don’t go to many fancy events when I’m in Naija, and my style is “CASUAL”):
- 10 or more lightweight t-shirts and tanktops
- 5-8 lightweight skirts, shorts, skorts and capris to go with the tees and tanks
- 1 pair of jeans (I still don’t understand how anyone can wear long pants in that weather but maybe I’ll try)
- 1 hoodie for cooler evenings
- 1 casual dress
- 1 fabulous dressy dress
I don’t have to pack any traditional since I will be getting ankara made like crazy! I’m excited just thinking about it and about how much more daring I will be with styles this time around. Everything I brought back looks so boring (it definitely screams old lady). (Also, it fits a lot more snugly since um…being in Nigeria and doing so much walking and sweating took a few pounds off!)
- 1 pair of dressy heeled sandals in black, brown or bronze (should go with dressier outfits)
- 1 pair of closed-toe heeled shoes (preference: in a fun colour)
- 1-2 pairs of flat shoes in black (one would be ballet-flat style and the other a dressy sandal…maybe gladiator style)
- 1 pair of bathroom flip flops
- 1 clutch to match the dressy sandals
- 1 basic purse
- A pair of earrings for everyday wear, 2 pairs of dressier earrings, one necklace/earring combo for dressier events and maybe one necklace for everyday wear (it’s so hot that I’ll probably want to have as little on as possible)
I’m still debating whether to bring a pair of sneakers/running shoes and socks. I did last time but didn’t use them at all.
I wonder how closely what I actually pack will match the above. At least I have good intentions.