Category Archives: Travelogue

Blogs I post here are about my globetrotting. Enjoy reading.

A Day at Yankari Game Reserve

It will take more than a week to tour the whole of Yankari Game Reserve, the guide mentioned to us. He spoke knowledgeably about the reserve, like they all do, and passionately. I always admire them when they do so. They give you hard facts and details I can only have in my memory when I know I am sitting for an exam tomorrow.

We could only see the reserve for about two hours due to the time we had. We drove past different species of antelopes; deer, waterbuck, African Antelope, etc. At one point, we had to get off the truck to walk on foot in the reserve. The guide wanted us to see the Marshall Caves. Some caves archeologists believe to be occupied by human beings a very long time ago.

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There are lots of interesting stories about the caves. There is the city centre and where you have a story buildings of caves. In the building, the caves are interconnected making it easy for the owners to move from one cave to another, and from first floor to the second. Thy were 59 of them in total. By virtue of the location of the caves, the guide mentioned it was difficult for anyone to spot the people there. Perhaps it was a hiding spot carefully chosen by the people to hide during the slave trade.

The best thing I enjoyed there was visiting the Wikki Warm Springs, which I learned has a year-round constant temperature of 31.1 C. Yes, point 1. The guide mentioned. He couldn’t miss that.

It is a beautiful natural warm spring. You cannot visit the reserve without seeing it, or better, swimming in it. It is like going to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower or visiting Cairo without going to the pyramids. It’s the best thing in the reserve. Seeing the natural warm spring is one thing, swimming in it is something else. It was that great of an experience for me and my friends!

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Me swimming in Wikki Warm Spring!

There are other side attractions in the park aside the Marshall Caves and the natural warm springs. There are more than 20 water wells I heard being sunk a long time ago. Different bird species. A museum of artefacts of animals found in the park. From the park, you can reach the borders of Taraba State, Plateau State and Gombe State. At some point, the animals have to be pushed back into Bauchi when they start moving farther away.

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The government recognized the revenue potential for the reserve and is currently building a landing strip. Not sure how this will affect the ecology of the park, considering aircrafts would be making a lot of noise.

The easiest way to reach the park is to fly to Gombe, then travel by road for about 2.5 hours to the park. The airport in Bauchi has no scheduled commercial flight. Except if you choose to charter an air plane like an Arabian Prince or book a small size chopper from Abuja. For those with minimal budget, Bauchi is accessible via road from Kaduna State, Jos and of course Bauchi (coming from Kano State).

Accommodation starts at 9000 NGN. There are many rooms, including hostels. A restaurant is available to place your orders. The place was recently renovated, so facilities are quite still okay.

Only turn off is the area boys that roam freely in the building area and try to take your bag from you. So watchword is not to carry any bags while walking around in the reserve, especially when going to the warm spring. And do not feed them any bananas. Do not be scared, the baboons aren’t dangerous, but it pays to be cautious.

In Summary, the reserve is worth visiting if you have never been to one before or you aren’t looking for something extraordinary, like the Masai Mara or Serengetti in Kenya.

For more photos of the park, follow my Instagram channel @sadiqgulma.

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Decision Making; Spending Money on Things or Experience

A thought crept into my mind while sitting at my desk at the office last week. I had to take a decision about an expenditure I was about to make. I have been indecisive about it simply because I was taking my time in conceiving how much change or impact my final option would have on my life.

In trying to be decisive, I had a retrospection of last year’s event. The retrospection should aid in taking me out of my current indecisiveness. I went over some of the decisions I took last year, the strategy I used in taking them should help me in deciding what I have at stake. Some of the results of those decisions I took last year stare at me daily in the office.

Standing conspicuously on my office desk are 3 memorabilia; replicas of Eiffel Tower, Pyramid of Giza and wind turbine of the Netherlands. As you will guess, all acquired when I traveled to Paris, Giza in Egypt and the Netherlands.

Occasionally, I did hold these precious items in my hands to glance closer or play with them as I get deep in thinking about office work or whatever that comes to mind. On some instances, I remember the trips to their originating cities. It refreshes my memory and invigorates me.

Back to my indecisiveness, my final decision boiled down to one thing; use my money for a material thing or spend it on an experience I can reminisce on. I thought about all the not needed things but good to have things I could buy with the money; upgrading my car, getting a cozy apartment, new shoes, a new laptop, a new phone, new wrist watches, sunglasses, etc. The consumer culture thing you know.

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The thing is I can manage without those new things. I learned to resist impulse expenditure about 3 years ago from Brian Tracy. Sometimes, it is more about ranking expected expenditure according to needs. Economists call this scale of preference. The idea that you rank a number of things you want to expend time and money on, in order of desperate need. And when you forego one item for the other, it becomes the opportunity cost of the foregone item. Last year, I had a European trip, culminating to be the opportunity cost to many material possessions I could have. Did you miss the story? Read it here again.

And that’s why I often don’t do well to the expectation of people I meet after returning from a trip, when they ask ‘what did you buy from …(insert name of a foreign city I visited)? I did not purchase something worth their 100% attention or societies 200%. Instead, I invested much of my little cash in paying for an experience such as snorkeling, go-karting, new dishes at restaurants, transportation, desert safari etc. and invest the tiniest fraction on a memorabilia such as the ones quoted above or good to have things.

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Go-karting in Dubai 2014
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My fun friends after the go-kart race in Dubai

I looked up some hard facts online about whether my decision on spending money on experience instead of on things is congruous to many people. Yes it is. Huffington Post reports about a 20 year research carried out by a Cornell University professor Dr. Gilovich on spending money on experiences instead of things  makes you happier.  Here are the three things that helped him arrive at his conclusion.

One. Getting accustomed to new possessions. At the instant you acquire something new, it’s your high point of excitement. However, this thrill fades away as the earth orbits around the sun. True?

Two. Raising the bar always. When you buy a $100 dollar sunglasses today, an expected value of what cost of sunglasses you will buy next will be higher than $100. Once we get something, we want a better one next time. True?

Three. Keeping up with the Joneses. By nature, Dr. Gilovich says, possessions foster comparison. Very true. The instant you see a friend’s car, it’s about comparing which is better. Truth is, there will always be someone with a better car.

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It is called the paradox of possessions says Dr. Gilovich. The wrongful assumption that buying things will make you happy as long as the item exists is wrong. It defies common sense I know at times. Buying something that will be there for a very long time should sustain the happiness you got earlier. Reality is, no. It won’t and will never.

However, foregoing such material expenditure for experiences such as travels, dining out with friends, donating to fundraisers, signing up for gym or yoga classes, trying out new cafes or restaurants should leave a more lasting happiness for you.

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This will give you some well lasting memories. Take your friends with you.
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Or go kite-surfing

Often times, it is not easy to always think of the opportunity cost while about to spend your money, especially when you have enough of it. But it should be. Often when I hear and see people complain of little or no money to spend on experiences such as a vacation, I am bewildered by their considerations as I observe their material possessions that could cover their dreams.

Why have an expensive car, while suffering from ADD (adventure deficit disorder) and not sell it to buy a cheaper car and get cured.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.” says Gilovich.

It is easier to bond more with people you hiked Mount Kenya with or traveled to Rome with than with someone who has the same car or phone as you. Even if you did not take the trip together, knowing you all had similar experiences will bring you closer. And that’s more reason to ditch retail therapy (material items) for experience soaked expenditure.

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When I went hiking to Mount Kenya with friends in 2015

What limits you from foregoing spending on things for experiences? What frequently ranks high on scale of preference, purchase of material possessions or expenditure on experiences? Do you always think of the opportunity cost when you come to spending? I would love to hear what is more important to you, things or experiences and why?

Please drop your comments below.

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Backpacking Europe; How I Fulfilled a European College Student Dream

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Anonymous

I love travelling. I don’t mind (much) if it is in style or not, at times. But when I had started preparing my bags to come back to Nigeria, I wanted to see parts of Europe I have never seen before. I drew up an itinerary, from where I reside in East Germany to the south, passing through Munich, then Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Ljubljana, Milan, Monaco, Geneva and back to Germany. I wasn’t sure of this route. I was more motivated to start from Munich because Bayern Munich will be hosting Manchester city at their stadium, the Allianz Arena on July 20th. So I wanted to enjoy the game before going on my journey. Tickets weren’t easy to come by and so I changed my route, from Weimar to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and back to Germany. I wasn’t sure of this route either, but I went for it.

“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” -Lawrence Durrell

The itinerary looks full. But it’s nothing compared to what many students of colleges and universities in Europe do after graduation. They strap their backpacks and head out to see the rest of the continent and world. I wanted same. I wanted to see everywhere.

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I didn’t know if I was suffering from ecedemomania (a morbid impulse or obsession to travel or wander around or a compulsive wondering away from home) but travelling makes me tick. I get motivated a lot, by the city, the people I meet and see, the experience, the culture shock and a lot other things that goes into your head when you travel.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

I did a bit of research, trying to know interesting places to see in those cities. I penned a few down. I also asked a few friends who lived in those cities what was interesting to see. I was happy I did as one of the places I later visited every single day for the 3 days I was in Amsterdam was recommended through this way.

I got my backpack and stock it up with a few clothing, toiletries, maps and my camera. Starting out was quite easy as I hitched a ride from the east to the west of Germany. More of the hitchhiking story in previous blog post here. Utrecht in the Netherlands was my first stop.

Utrecht seemed a small city, despite its big train station. But that’s how the Netherlands is. It’s a small country. I didn’t sleep in Utrecht, I proceeded to Amsterdam, a city I have always known as the first on the list on weather stations and of course, the home of Ajax Football club. It was amazing to be there. More of detailed story in Amsterdam subsequently. Subscribe to my blog post so you do not miss out.

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I had packed a mattress in my backpack. When the night came, I passed it out in a green Vondel Park. It was surprising. A Dutch couple, who had an apartment in the city joined me. Not me I mean, but in the park. They wanted to enjoy the cool natural breeze of the park. The night was peaceful, I slept with so much ease in my mind. By the time I woke up, the sun was up but the couple was gone.

Three days passed quickly in the Netherlands and I had a road trip to Brussels, the capital of Europe. Another city that has become familiar to me due to weather forecasts (is not that I watch weather forecast only on TV,  just that after the Sports News or some News Segment, the weather story always comes up). I know faintly that the European Union is headquartered there, from watching news. I met so many backpackers there. The night I arrived, Tomorrowland was happening. There were so many youths around. I lodged in to Urban Youth Hostel, about 2km from the city centre. I had made my reservations from Amsterdam already, I was so looking forward to sleeping in a proper bedroom, after camping in Veldermort Park in Amsterdam for two days.

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One of the many river alleys of Amsterdam

When people visit Belgium, they normally run to Bruges, a nearby coastal city. I wanted to see Brussels, as I had only two days for Belgium. I liked the city and remember so much of it, seven months after. Why? Because I walked only in the city for the two days I was there. It was the second time I took a walking tour. Her name was Kristin, a student and a worker. She loves her city she said, and organizes free walking tours for tourists like us. She narrated the story of Leopold the II, who was cunning enough to purchase Angola, with a company.

She also told us interesting stories of the Grand Palace Square, the original place we met. The mythical story of the Manneken Pis and a lot others. She knew so much of her city. I was glad I followed her. She was the one who told us French Fries aren’t from France but from Belgium.

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Panoramic shot of the Grand-Place
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A clothed (not common) Manneken Pis. Legend has it he peed to quench a fire the engulfed then Brussels

More of Brussels…subscribe to my blog here

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The time came to say goodbye to Brussels. Paris was next. Again, I took the bus (yeah I like road trips). We zoomed off to Paris North Bus Station. It was the 6th day of my tour and I was in my third country already. I met with an old friend who I met during my undergraduate days in Zaria. He was working in Paris. So I didn’t need a walking tour from a stranger. He was perfect.

The Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Buisness Centre all graced my presence. They were so many people around. So many tourists. So many shoppers and coffee drinkers.

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An empty street off Champs-Elysees
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Arc de Triomphe: Finish point of Tour de France

By that time, the idea was to proceed to Marseille then sail to Barcelona in Spain. I had seen and experienced so much in the last 8 days. I have walked in many European capitals and took a thousand photos. My brain was saturated with vigor, albeit, at the expense of my legs.

If not the Adidas Neo sneakers I was using, I wouldn’t have come this far with walking. I am quite sure if Suleiman Hashimu (the guy who walked from Lagos to Abuja in celebration of President Buhari’s victory) had them on, he would have continued to Sambisa Forest in Maiduguri.

But then there was a general body fatigue building on because for every single of the last 8 days, I was walking from this location to another. It was exhilarating albeit tiring. I resorted to go back home, to Weimar.

I used a Blabla car (car sharing app) to get a pickup. He was Pakistani if I remember well. He works for a Tabloid in Germany. We drove for 5 hours back to Frankfurt were I shared a car with another German training to be a policeman. When I arrived Weimar, I grinned so much. I was glad I travelled that far, alone. I will do it again, if I get the chance to.

What are your travel dreams? What’s on your bucket list? Tell me. I would love to know. For a detailed exposition of my experiences in the different European cities, subscribe to my blog and get instant notification when they are released.

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For more photos of the backpacking trip, follow my Instagram channel @sadiqgulma

Why Kenyans win Marathons; Myths and Stereotypes Nigerians have for Kenya

The recently held Lagos Marathon was won by Kenyans, from the first to the fourth positions. Just like they did last year. The winners said during the post event interview, they are already looking forward to next year’s event. To come back and win. Again and again. And they might, for a number of reasons. Generally, many Nigerians believe all Kenyans can win marathons. It’s a wrong stereotype. Not all of them can. Kenyans (a part of them) winning marathons begs a lot of questions from people, including Nigerians. But that’s not the only thing Nigerians don’t know about Kenyans. They seem to have their stereotypes for Kenya and Kenyans, like we all do for different people and countries. Having spent more than two years in the beautiful East African country, I have met many Nigerians who hold these stereotypes.

Amongst the many I hear, I have highlighted four below, starting with the marathon myth.

  1. All Kenyans can win marathons
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Abraham Kinton of Kenya given the winning trophy from Lagos State Governor

This is among the most popular. It’s not their fault though. They win marathons in all competitions, Olympics, IAAF, London Marathons, Lagos Marathon and wherever they are staged. How? When I went hiking Mount Kenya (5199m), second highest mountain in Africa, I met our hiking guide. He lived around the mountain area and has climbed up and down the mountain more than a hundred times. We met other guides and potters along the way. He spoke to a group of some potters passing us, asking for the whereabouts of a certain fella. He was told he went for some marathon screening issh. He was hoping to win gold in an upcoming marathon. The wishes of many of the people living around the Mount Kenya area and Iten (where majority of the winners come from). The altitude of the towns around the mountain area can be as high as 2,000m, much higher than many places in the world.

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I spent the night in this hotel, 1970m altitude (just a few kilometres from Mount Kenya)

Geographically, the higher you go,  the less oxygen there is to breath. And that is the reason. Many of these winners and hopefuls of marathons’ golds live in high altitude areas (Iten is 2,400m, Addis Ababa is 2,350m and Lagos is 41m). They live their everyday life on less oxygen. So in whatever way they run, playing football, for fun, racing with each other, it is a marathon practice. While sprinting, you are always taking less energy due to the exhaustion. These people have been used to it way back since they were kids. That’s why majority of them have that advantage of endurance.

  1. All Kenyans are skinny and dark in complexion
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A Kenyan lady dressed up for an event

This is among the most popular too. The reason is fueled by  watching the Kenyans winning marathons, who are mostly skinny and dark. There are many tribes in Kenya and a number of them have a big population of fair and average sized bodies. The truth is they aren’t as chubby as most Nigerians (and aggressive as well). The Swahilis, people from Mombasa (port city of Kenya and the second largest city after Nairobi with 1.2 million people) are majority fair in complexion.

  1. Kenya is not as developed as Nigeria
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Skyline of the city of Nairobi

Well let’s not talk about GDP. Nigeria has a higher one but the Nigerian Naira exchanges 1 Kenyan Shilling for 3.06. With Human Development Index, Kenya ranks 7 places ahead of Nigeria. In terms of infrastructure, Kenya does not surpass Nigeria, and same goes the other way. Nairobi is a lot like Lagos, narrow roads and very tall buildings. Much more than what we have in Abuja. Power supply is not as erratic as in Nigeria. You get much more power in Kenya than in Nigeria. Problems with security is worse now in Nigeria, albeit share similar unfortunate terrorists attacks. Corruption is about the same level. So the assumption that travelling to Kenya means travelling to a less developed place don’t hold water, if you are coming from Nigeria.

  1. There are only wild animals in Kenya
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This rarely happens (credits: South African Airways)

The many safaris of Masai Mara, Tsavo National Park, Amboseli, Samburu, Hell’s Gate and so many other national wildlife reserves that brings Kenya to limelight on Discovery Channel has given them a definition of a wild life jam packed country. Truth is there are so many of those parks around. But there are other natural features such as Lake Naivasha, Lake Victoria, the coast of Indian Ocean at Mombasa and Malindi, the many volcanic craters, rocks and mountains, waterfalls, etc. there is so much to see in almost all of Kenya. Even where the equator passes.

Do you have other stereotypes I haven’t mentioned, please comment below. But what about the other way round? What stereotypes do Kenyans have for Nigerians and Nigeria? Lots of them. Wanna read about them, subscribe to my blog and I will follow up on that.

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German ‘Kajuru’ Castle in Northern Nigeria

The few months I was in Europe this year, I had visited a number of castles, especially in Germany. Tours to castles in Europe do not normally get me going because they all look similar. Once you visit one, you have seen eighty percent of what you will find in others. As such, after visiting a few in Germany and Czech Republic, I declined any trip to other castles.

But Kajuru Castle located in Kajuru, a town in northern Kaduna State of Nigeria will always get my yes. Maybe because it is not a traditional castle built for nobles or princes. It’s a holiday resort. So who doesn’t like to spend a holiday in a castle? When sweet Irene extended us the invitation, we came running.

Ever since we got back from the short holiday we spent there with my relatives, we cannot stop talking about the stay in the castle, the food we had, and the memories we created. We get many calls from those who missed it. The anxiousness to know more about the place is like a Barcelona or Real Madrid football club fan who missed the el-classico match and cannot wait to be told the final score.

Kajuru Castle is the most splendid man-made architectural feature I have seen in Nigeria. Absolutely beautiful and unique in all of Nigeria. The architecture is European, with stones forming parts of building frame. It stands tall on rocks, giving it the defense mechanism of seeing whoever is approaching it from all its sides.

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Now many might wonder how a German castle found its way in Nigeria. Some might be quick in linking it to colonial times. But no, it’s not a colonial castle. It was built between 1985 and 1989 by a German who was contracted to build the airport in Kaduna State.

Many people will find it hard to believe that this castle exists in Northern Nigeria. Built on the rocky area of Kajuru, just 35 km south east of Kaduna. When we went for a short hike round the castle to the neighbouring hamlets of fulanis living there and on top of some of the rocks, the view from outside is breath-taking. I stood in awe, admiring the castle from one of the rocks slightly higher than the one the castle was built on. It was just damn beautiful.

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As you drive uphill to the entrance of the castle, two towers on both sides of the gate intimidate you. There are three towers in all. Two have rooms on different floors and the other was fitted with woofer systems. Some slept in the room on the top most floor of one of the towers, while others slept in the master bedroom detached from the tower.

From the entrance, the terrain of the castle steeps down gently. On your right is a crocodile pond and on your left, a snake den. But the snake ran away we heard. Small snakes are occasionally seen in the castle though. There are peacocks and a cat in the castle.

Towards the end, is the one of a kind swimming pool. Built with iron steel and modest in size for anyone. As I dived in and swam to the other end, my body acclimatized with the slightly cold temperature of the water in the pool.

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Around the pool are sitting areas. On the right is a little open hut, where we had lunch and dinner on the first day. Because the castle is on a rock, you can enjoy a good view of the bush around you. You can see part of the Kajuru town on the north, scattered hamlets on the south and east, and rocks and bush all around.

Inside the living room are armours and different artifacts relating to Germany. A shelf of books in German, also hang waiting to be perused for a few seconds before they are dropped back. My German is not good enough to read and comprehend novels.

Natural daylight almost fills the living room during the day, saving the castle of energy. A power generator located outside the castle powers it. Although a grid connection is also possible, the general manager, our host Bela, decided it was cheaper running it on diesel generator.

Air-conditioners, refrigerators and all modern electrical equipment are found in the castle. It is not the most Porsche resort in terms of electrical devices, but it is the best in terms of a place for relaxation and meditation.

On the first day we arrived, a nearby school was having an event and we could hear a little of what they were saying over the speakers they used. Aside that, the only sound you will hear in the castle is a comforting silence, occasionally interjected with sounds of birds, peacocks, breeze and passersby on a motor bike outside the castle. The sound of the engines of the bike will be heard in some few seconds before it slowly vanishes away.

It is the perfect location to get away from the noise and hassles of a city. Bela said if you want to reboot or rest your mind, the castle is the place to do it, ‘take the opportunity to’. Although his way of rebooting is different from mine and might be different from yours. In essence you find calmness and solitude in this castle.

A Hungarian engineer Stephen (his Nigerian name is Mustapha) along with Hannatu were the engineers in our kitchen. Our dear co-host, Irene, was always watching out for our welfare. Our first meal at the castle was lunch. We had gulash, nokeldi, cucumber salad with yoghurt, garlic and green pepper. Dessert was somloi galuska, a delicious sweet cake. Before you get lost in the names, why don’t you see the photos below?

The taste of European culture didn’t end with the architecture of the German castle and Hungarian lunch. Dinner was Serbian, or more appropriately, Turkish. Pljeskavuca (grilled beef) with chips and spring onions together with Serbian salad. And then, the best thing since sliced bread, torta. Torta is the perfect cake you will want to melt on your tongue. Mustapha’s said its called the big cake. It took us 18 hours to finish it, although with much caution preventing us from finishing it that night.

Our last meal, lunch on Sunday, was vadas marha zsemlegomboccal, green salad sour cabage and torta again as dessert. The kids didn’t really like this meal, only torta.

But this short stay capped the holiday of holidays for me. I never saw it coming. I cannot wait to get back to Kajuru. Matter of fact, I think I have found a great place to start penning down a book. It’s the perfect environment to let loose your creative potential.

I am not sure what mindset people take out when they leave castles. But ours were rejuvenated, refreshed and cheerful. All we kept saying is this has been the perfect weekend ever. And just how long do you have to wait for your best weekend of the year if it falls in December?

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Final selfie with fam, Irene and Bela (our host)

Does Kajuru Castle interest you? Have you visited it or you want to? Ping me for details of how you can schedule a visit there.

PS: If you want to see more photos of Kajuru Castle, follow my Instagram account sadiqgulma.

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“Should We Pick This Black Guy?”…How I Hitch-hiked From Germany to the Netherlands

I wanted to go on a backpacking trip to the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal, on a budget. One of the ways I thought of that could make it happen was to cut my transportation cost across the countries. It was either car-sharing or hitch-hiking.

I started doing some research on hitch-hiking in Europe, something I will not try in Nigeria (I will tell you why later). I came across the dos and don’ts of it and in which countries it is easier to do. Germany was the easiest and Spain was the most difficult among my itinerary.

I found a hitch-hikers map online. It contained accurate information of where hitch-hikers could easily get picked up, how much time it might take, how much time it took other hitch-hikers to get picked from there, etc. etc. I also found other helpful information from other websites such as declining offers that only go for a little distance or that won’t stop at a good pick up site.

The last information was helpful as I ditched many cars offering to take a detour from my aimed path.

It was really interesting sticking my thumb by the road side for the period of times I had to. Not only did hitchhiking save me some few bucks, it made me new friends and opened another world of understanding, considering I was not looking like a typical white person. And the best part, it really made my trip very memorable.

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After getting some final good orientation from my flat-mate, I was all set mentally.

I packed my stuff, including snacks, sleeping bag, a mattress, highway maps of Germany and France, my erasable portable board to write where I am going to and my Nigerian passport, just in case I get asked at the borders. Starting off was really easy as my flat-mate had a guest who was travelling in the direction of Amsterdam. We drove through the huge German land, from the eastern city of Weimar to the western part of the country. She dropped me off at a nice location good for hitchhiking, some kilometres outside of Hildesheim.

The ideal ride I should take should be the one driving towards the German city of Hannover. While I stood at the exit of the filling station with a sign that says “A’DAM” meaning Amsterdam, it dawned on me what I was really doing. Trying to get free rides. I met a middle aged French couple as well trying to hitchhike to Hamburg. I asked “how long you have been waiting here?”. She said about 2 hours ago.

That sounded quite worrying to me. What if I go longer than 2 hours without getting any ride? It was already 3pm then. The sun will set in about three and a half hours. It will be dark, and it is not good to hitch-hike then, advised in one of the blogs I read. Anika, my first free ride from Weimar said the town she lives is about 15 kilometres away from where she dropped me off. If I cannot get any ride till sunset, I should give her a call to come back and pick me. “Tomorrow you could continue.”

I wished I will not have to call her.

A very important information given to hitchhikers is not to panic when they cannot find a ride. That piece of advice really helped. I stayed really calm as I kept a stare gaze at passing drivers till they are out of my front view. If you look straight into their eyes, you make a little connection that will prompt them to be more sympathetic. Some do make some kind gestures showing sympathy. Some even wave at you, wishing you good bye perhaps.

You cannot stick your thumb out and be staring at the number plate or wheels of the car. The driver will easily pass you by.

After being dropped at Garbsen, a city outside Hannover, it was already 5 pm. An hour before dark. It is one of the best places to get a ride straight to some cities in the Netherlands. My last driver told me I should watch out for any yellow plate number. It is a Dutch one. I couldn’t get a ride that evening. So I sought refuge in that little city. Luckily, there is a camp beside a lake called Blue Lake, a walking distance from the highway.

I laid my sleeping bag beside the lake and slept off for the night. “Tomorrow, I am going to A’Dam”, I told myself.

The next day was the day I told myself this will be my last time of hitchhiking. I waited more than 4 hours trying to get a ride direct to Amsterdam, all futile. I got lots of offers going to some cities in Germany, especially Dortmund. I turned them all down like a boss. I was tired and wanted something direct to A’Dam, because I was seeing the yellow plate numbers.

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Blue wavy line on highway A30 from Hannover, through Garbsen to Amsterdam. Some wanted me to go on A2 to Dortmund.

Some guy with a yellow plate number and his partner said I am going to A’Dam, but I won’t take you. They zoomed off. Another said to he was going to Rotterdam and I agreed. Before I could get my stuff, he had disappeared. Two vans that would have been perfect were filled to capacity. It was not just not the best of days for me. I couldn’t say if others turned me down because I was not painted like them. I got many offers from others, just not in the direction I wanted.

Either ways, white or black, you can hitch-hike in Europe and you will get lots of offers. Just do not take any.

I later gave up and took a ride to a city closer to the Dutch border. It was there, at a filling (gas) station, I met 2 other Germans from Berlin, hitchhiking to A’Dam too. We broke the ice instantly. They were going to A’Dam just to relax for a few days and get back to Berlin. Hitchhiking when you are more than 2 is not generally advised. It might not be easy finding a car that can take the 3 of you at the same time. I thought I shouldn’t be with them.

Soon afterward, one of them talked to a guy who got his tank filled up. And we were all finally on our way to A’Dam in one car, 29 hours after I left my apartment in Weimar. Had I taken a direct bus or train from Weimar, I would have long been exploring the city of bicycles.

Driving in cars with strangers was comfortable for me. I read how a few hitchhikers, got attacked, mostly ladies. It was unfortunate. For one reason I will not try it in Nigeria is the security situation. Kidnapping is a lucrative business for criminals in this part of the world. They ask for huge ransoms and they always get it. Although, it depends on your kidnap value. I haven’t calculated my value, but I am guessing I might be interesting to a few.

Even if you are driving alone, it is not advised pick anyone in Nigeria. Over here, people do not normally hitchhike on the road. Anyone who gets picked up knows she or he will pay. If you want to get a free ride, you had better checked with your friends in the city, before you get out on the road.

These fond memories really make me chuckle in retrospection. Perhaps, I might try this again with some friends, just for the fun of it. And you guessed right, that was the last time I hitch-hiked on my backpacking trip. I didn’t have the stamina I thought I did.

Have you hitchhiked before? I will really love to hear your story in the comment section below. Want to hear more about my backpacking trip, subscribe to my blog below.

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What I Learned While Living in Europe

When I lived in Deutschland for 5 months less 1 week this year, I had come to realize how independent I have started growing. Living and working away from family and friends. My mind was getting more flexible than I can imagine. I could jump on any interesting offer to change my physical location. I liked how flexible and open-minded I have become. Living away from home has cultivated many attributes in me. So when the chance to go to Germany came, I was stoked about the idea and wondered how fantastic it would turn out.

Personally and humbly speaking, the trip is one of the highlights of my career, having come far in my quest for energy efficient and sustainable buildings. I had come to understand how to improve and evaluate thermal comfort in our buildings during my research stay at the Bauhaus University in Weimar. I also learned a lot about other things like how to speak a little German, what is life in a European country, who Germans are, history of Europe, how to cook Italian lasagne and seeing my friend cook Egyptian Koshari, living in a more sustainable way, why they are more developed than African countries, yoga, stargazing and hunting, bouldering, and a lot of other things, too numerous to mention.

In subsequent blog posts, I intend to share different stories of my stay there. Subscribe to my blog not to miss out.

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Out of the numerous things I learned, I will start with these two things mentioned below.

Learning to Appreciate and Enjoy More

One of the things I took away was learning to enjoy nature more and more. It was a lovely sunny day and I looked outside my window, alas! What did I see? Some two guys holding their shoes and working bare feet on the hot tarred roads. My eye sight fixed on them as they treaded on the road before turning left and disappearing. Another time again, I saw another group of friends repeating that. And my wondering came to an end. I understood why they took off their shoes; to feel the sun warmed roads. The summer has started and they are not letting go any moment of it to waste. And I remember myself, how I will like to take off my shoes and walk in the beach sand. Walking slowly at times, allowing my feet to sink into the sand and giving me a soothing feeling in my brain. But this didn’t teach me that, seeing some guys walk bare feet just to feel the warmth of the sun inspired me to appreciate more the things around me, especially the things we do not often notice. To acknowledge that such enjoyments might not be forever and the need to live every moment of its existence is key to becoming happier daily.

They don’t know just as much as about Africa

I listened to Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk on the Dangers of a Single Story. She narrated how her first roommate in the US asked her questions about what Africa was like, especially how she turned out to speak very good English. The questions were nothing but pitiful, due to the huge ignorance and misconception of a single story many non-Africans have have on African countries. “Do you have roads like the way we have them in Germany?”, “Do you have power (electricity)?” and other questions I cannot remember verbatim but remember the ignorance of the questioner, when I was asked. It is completely alright to be unaware of things outside your way. There is quite a lot happening in people’s lives that what doesn’t matter won’t mean a thing, especially when one big continent of 54 different nations with 2000 different spoken languages and different cultures gets generalized as one. Do not get me wrong, I am completely not mad about it. I and many ‘Africans’ have our own single stories of developed countries. But when I pay close attention to this notion of generalization of Africa, I often ask myself whether it is right for all those beautiful different people to be taken as one when it comes to description.

I have lived in two different parts of the continent, the east and west, and been to a total of 4 different African countries, including Egypt. They all have many different things, not only through my eyes, but in terms of geography, time difference, language, currency, social interaction, food, mannerisms, festivals, etc. seeing much of that diversity in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Egypt motivates me to take different expeditions to other African countries. I cannot promise, but I think I will make it a point to see the whole of those countries.

Appreciating the different countries means showing concern, respect, and knowledge and acknowledge their existence and diversity. Many people, including ‘Africans’ have joined in this wrong generalization. I always like asking, what part of Africa are you referring to?

Living in Europe has been fantastic to say the least. So many amiable memories, friends and relationships have been formed. I am eager to share my backpacking trip around some western European countries with you. Reminiscing all these bring smiles to my face. Do subscribe to not miss a post 🙂

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