You must travel before you are too old. I am almost in my mid-fifties so I think I am qualified to talk about this subject. I have always loved photography and traveling as a child but never got to do the kind of traveling that I really loved till I was approaching say age 40.
Off to Ebonyi state.
I had the typical traditional Nigerian understanding of what traveling should be. I mean traveling means going back to your father’s village to stay, farm or maybe to some rich relatives home. All you do there are chores and no real fun.
It was in 2014 when for the first time in 20 years of marriage my wife and I decided to take a vacation. We couldn’t go for a honeymoon as newlyweds years back due to financial reasons and after that came the children and other responsibilities, you know the drill. Though I had the urge to travel financial demands and other commitments made me keep promising myself a vacation when the real breakthrough comes. Later, I came to realize that nobody ever made enough money that will satisfy every whim he/she has. So we decided it was time for our first vacation and off to Obudu Mountains we went. You needed to see how we were behaving like teenagers. It was an eye-opener for us. We have never looked back.
At Obudu Mountains Resort after 20 years of waiting.
The landscapes at Obudu was so overwhelming.
Now I travel more at every opportunity I have. I travel with tour groups or go on solo journeys when my wife cannot go. Yes, there are still issues concerning those journeys. I am always the oldest in the tour groups I travel with but I try not to spoil the fun for the younger ones. I join in the fun when I can. I swim, jump, run, hike, and do everything they do and still do more. I remember when I went on a solo journey to Erin Ijesha Waterfalls, (a popular waterfall in the western part of Nigeria) I met a newly married couple who came to the waterfall as part of their honeymoon. I commended them for not wasting time like I did with my wife before embarking on traveling together. They told me they were coming from Osun Osogbo groove ( Touristy area in Nigeria) and will go to Idanre hills after the waterfall and complete the journey in Benin City. Anyway, as we were climbing on all fours to the fourth layer of the waterfall, (it has 7 layers) the man’s wife suddenly stopped and said to me “Sir, you know why I am still climbing to get to the top of this waterfall”? I answered “no”. “It’s because of you… You are my encouragement. Whenever I feel tired. I say to myself If this Baba (that’s me-meaning Old man) is not stopping then since I am younger I won’t stop to rest.”. Needless to say, that spurred me on as yours truly was already getting tired at that time.
Enjoying the sound of the cascading waters at Erin Ijesha waterfalls.
I am grateful I took the decision to start going on periodic vacations because I always return back refreshed both in my mind and body. I am not waiting to become eighty or when I will need a walking stick to get around before I enjoy myself. No, I actually wrote this blog post because I saw online somewhere the picture of an elderly couple on vacation inside a boat sleeping whilst the boatman was sitting amused. I mean they were supposed to be enjoying their vacation (no disrespect intended) but there they were sleeping and the boatman who maybe ought to show them around was just idle. I always come back from every journey with fresh stories that I intend to share with my grandchildren someday. You know traveling, as they say, makes you a storyteller.
Traveling exposes you to different cultures.
Traveling has helped me get to know more people within and outside Nigeria. I have met diverse kinds of people/cultures and this has helped me to be a better person today. I get to learn about places first hand and there are some things you get to know psychologically once you are in a new location. Travel has helped my photography too. I have had the privilege of standing before beautiful creations of God (landscapes, waterfalls, exotic trees, rare animals etc and photographed them.
Picture of Water Buck taken at Yankari game Reserve, Bauchi, Nigeria.
I have made money from my pictures too as I have sold some write off my wall. My pictures after printing give me great satisfaction when I feel say sad or bored. Just staring at them is pure joy. Traveling is fun. Whether by boat, air or road or rail. I enjoy both the process and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. Yes, there are times things don’t work out well. Maybe, accommodation issues at the travel locations, at times some hotels are not as they were advertised, vehicle breakdown, nightmarish journeys (read this. http://ovyay.com/my-nightmare-travel-experience/
So my advice to you is travel whilst you can. You may not be able to afford to go abroad but anywhere around is ok. Nigeria, for example, is blessed with a lot of touristy sites so ask around and get going. I have been asked? All these pictures?. All these traveling is it not a waste of money and time? Who is paying for all this? I say to them. The truth is whenever I travel, I don’t go to 5-star hotels. I first check if I have friends at my intended location or if I know someone who knows someone, I can stay with. At times, I share rooms with people but when I travel with a tour group, then accommodation becomes the responsibility of the tour organizers. Look, I have just one life to live. I may not be able to do this maybe due to age 30 years from now. Maybe I will. I truly hope so. But whilst I can still do the hoop I will go everywhere I can because a time cometh when no man worketh then my grandchildren will have many stories to hear. Look we may not stay here for a long time (earth) so we had better enjoy everything God has created as long as we have breath in our nostrils. This is why any location I travel to, I take so many pictures, eat their food, listen to their music, make friends with natives so that I can hear more stories etc.
Ilashe Beach, Lagos.
So why are you not traveling? Some may say they have kids. Well, my advice is that is no barrier. You can all go together. I have met whole families at travel locations it just up to each family to plan for it.
What of security.
Well just like life. God keeps is. That’s my belief. I check online before I travel. I also reach out to people who have been to where I want to go. I research and by the time I am heading for the door, I already know enough about the place that I am going to. I have learned not to take too much gear or wear expensive things when traveling to avoid attracting unnecessary attention. I try not to look like a stranger anywhere I go to. I also always work with a local who knows the terrain and pay him for his services after. This helps especially in places that are a bit rough/ tough. Once they see you are with one of their own, nobody really bothers you. I have come to realize that most of the negative news we hear about places are not always 100 percent true.
Why am I a Blogger and a Writer today? It’s because of the diverse experiences I have had traveling. You can’t explain the splendor and beauty of God’s creation if you don’t go to some of the exotic places we have around Nigeria and beyond. I have walked in the clouds of Obudu and waded in the serenity of Wikki waters in Yankari Bauchi.
Obudu mountains is one of the best places I have been to in Nigeria.
Wiki water springs, Bauchi.
I stood to wonder at the awesomeness of God at Arinta waterfalls wondering and meditating why this water keeps cascading downwards continuously not upwards. I dipped into the hot spring pool at Ikogosi hot springs and I ate a never to be forgotten Banga soup at Ekeremor at southern Ijaw, Nigeria. You can’t talk of all this by watching National Geographic at home. I have nothing against National Geographic. I hope to see Victoria waterfalls one day. I hope to climb Kilimanjaro one day. I need to do the Safari from Kenya all the way to Namibia someday. I need to experience scuba diving in Zanzibar. I need to experience the Northern lights in Finland. What of the leaning Tower at Pisa. Everybody got a picture of the Big Ben bell in the UK and the Eiffel tower in France. I need to get mine too. Somebody come to get me, please. There is so much beauty out there that I haven’t seen. There is much action I haven’t done. What about bungee jumping and skydiving. How do you talk about skiing in Switzerland and ice swimming in Helsinki Finland etc without going there? What of camel riding in the deserts of Morroco, or the Architectural beauties of Dubai. I need to see the Pyramids of Egypt. I want to hear “aloha” said to my ears in Hawaii and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Tahiti.
There is so much beauty out there. (Ado Awaye Mountains, in. Oyo-State.
Friends you have to travel when you are still young. Nothing wrong if you travel when you are old. At my age, the advantage is you are a bit more patient compared to the young who want to cover all the touristy places at one time. I take time to go through the places I visit. I know I may never return to the same place again in my life. So I am patient not to rush. Don’t waste this beautiful world that God created by dashing all over the place because you want to say so have been there, done that etc. Enjoy your time and savor the beauty of the places you go to. Let your hair down and please travel with a backup camera or make sure you have a good phone so that if your camera fails or there is a problem, your phone can easily step in. I admit, not everyone loves traveling so I can understand if someone disagrees with my opinions. But at least find something you enjoy doing and do it while you can.
So where are you going, next Sir. Orange festival at Akwai Ibom. Durbar in Kano, Calabar carnival and if God permits, Canada/ Europe here I come with my trusty old Nikon in case somebody out there chooses to invite me or sponsors me.
So what is your story? No money. There is always someplace around the corner you can go to without breaking the bank.
Time? Everybody has 24 hours nobody has extra. We all make out time for what we love or make excuses for what we don’t want to do. “I will do it when I am married….. No, when my kids are born…No, they are still at school when they are all graduated and gone from home”. I will, I will, that day won’t come whether you are young or old except you do something. Look time is flying so fast. Don’t wake up someday at 92years wishing you had done something with your life. Build your career, take care of your family, don’t be reckless but please also have some fun for yourself as no man lives forever.
At Olumo Rock, Abeokuta.
Now travel may not be easily possible for you the way it is for me especially if you have a 9-5 desk-bound job. But when you are on leave or something, you can travel. Sometimes it’s not so much of going very far. A weekend trip or National Holiday time is a good time to move around if you plan for it. I enjoy the support of my wife concerning these trips so it is easy for me to go and she ensures the home and office ends are covered when I am not around. Once I return from a trip, we sit down together to review the pictures/videos I took. I also have good people in my Church so they cover for me and even sponsor some of my trips. Grateful to them all. One thing my wife she says to me as soon as I return from my journey is “where are you going next”. She knows that as soon as I am back it doesn’t take long for me to start thinking about where to go to again.
Thinking of where I should go next?
I close with a popular Yoruba song written by the legendary Ebenezer Obey.
“A lowo ma jaye eyin lemo,
Awon to laye lana da won ti ku won ti lo,
A lowo ma jaye eyin lemo,
Awon to laye lana da won ti ku won ti lo…….”
This song literally means that those who have money who don’t enjoy themselves are the losers. That is, they shortchanged themselves. This is because life has shown that those who had money before them, who didn’t enjoy themselves have died and gone. The message is simply to enjoy your life. It is not talking of recklessness. But if you have money, eat good food, wear good clothes, don’t suffer needlessly etc.
So what’s your excuse for not traveling? Too young or too old. Tell me your story in the comment section. Also, subscribe to this blog if you haven’t so that I would be able to share more fantastic stories like this one with you.
Thank you for your time.