Our plan to set forth at dawn to Idanre was an entire off-target (read like Falz: off-tarjet). We departed a few minutes before noon, at a time that by wishful calculations, we should have been about 1700metres above sea level.
After a journey that was entirely of bants and a stream of humour that adhered to no bargaline (as we playfully call Brand Guideline), we arrived at the amazingly hilly town, which was an abrupt end-of-banter. Maybe not jaw-dropping but eyes-rolling. Some eyes peeping outta the window here, and some JAMB question there. “Are these sedimentary or igneous rocks?” I wonder if we were on a Geography excursion.
Up next we were eager to find a place to drop our luggage, prepared for the worst in terms of hotel accommodation suitability. We had gotten little or no help on the hotel booking sites we checked. At about 3pm we settled down at Hilltop Hotel, some minutes drive to the main tourist site. How so Hilltop? Not so much but we were on a higher elevation than the other (fellow) buildings on the foot of the hill which is one of the several elevations that dot (and border) the landscape of the town.
We were quick, as always, to identify the need for lunch. As unnecessary as it really was, we all exchanged points emphasizing the importance of eating first so we have enough energy to climb. So much on being destabilized by hunger. Moving on from the disappointing ‘un-opening’ of the buka we had heard so much about, we were settled in this other place that was around the size of a small garage. 8 of us, plus about some 12 others, digging deep and sending forth morsels of fufu, eba and amala. ‘A matter of choice something.’ Our photographer-on-tour brought out his camera and was taking some pictures, to the amazement of some old men who silently wondered if we came there for food or for something else.
Fast forward to meeting our unofficial Tour Guide, whose story of volunteering and lack of government payment or recognition would later lead us to further discussion and bonding. There was then the stairs-climbing and rest-point-resting upon kicking off after a brief overview of the history of the hills and the people, as taught us by Mr. Kayode.
After completing over 600 constructed stairs, we were on the first table top (sort of), where we took a lot of pictures, and played around the edge of the cliff, jumping in the sky (not off the cliff of course) and savouring what truly is the best point of view of the town. The sight of the valley that currently houses the settlement as it sprawls across the convergence of the foot of the several hills, coupled with the hills themselves standing like a Board of Directors overseeing the town adds credence to the “Idan re” story that connects the town’s name with the amazement of the initial settlers, proclaiming that “this is magic”.
Next stop was the 100years+ old primary school building that according to as we were told, housed the basic education of the Old Idanre people. The Old Idanre refers to the settlement of earlier generations high up in the mountains, prior to the migration down to the plains of the valley in what is today’s Idanre. The school was the beginning of our exploration of what was left of the Old Idanre community. We were travelling back in time, literally.
‘Entering main town’, we passed the tomb of the Kings (that is the waiting final destination of even the current king) with a sacred point some metres away that we were not to step across. Just next was the point of a histrorical heavy stone that was said to be the testing element of any man in those days to confirm readiness for marriage. After taking turns to try and lift this very heavy stone, we all concluded we would have died bachelors if we lived in their time.
Palms, minds and eyes on the rock as we surmounted a relief to cross to the royal court area. Interrupted and amazed by a rock layer, we took our turns to go under, try to push it off as if that was a possibility, throwing around a lot of jokes while our excitement heightened.
At the palace or say, royal courts, we reimagined the court meetings, verdicts, consultations and dispute resolutions and all the activities that must have taken place right there where we stood. We sat, posed, acted community people, king… without sitting on the ground carved ‘throne’ though. We also messed with the nude sculptures (the ‘males’) that were the pillars all over the open yard. Messed as in, taking some pictures that would have provoked the sculptures if they were alive. Should we be proud of this? Maybe not but we had a great time, strolling around a place in which we would have probably sat down on the ground, hands folded to the back and mute, if the hands of time were turned back. But no jokes here!
We were told of some other points of attractions that we had heard stories about — the one size fits all carving, and ‘the Noah’s Ark’ but we were behind time for that farther mission in what would have taken several additional hours.
Okay let’s get back down. But wahala, because… weak bones.
All through the mountaineering, we strapped along a bag of canned drinks (soft and not) and let’s say they kept for us some energy that resurfaced when we improvised with the soccer ball we came along with, on the makeshift volley ball court. So much more fun we had here, with a lot of falling down lazily and really funny errors and points. We changed the rules over and over, reformed some game laws that would have angered any official of the sport. But did we tell anybody we came there for serious business? Biko.
We sat at one cool groove-like place like that as we talked about the high points of the previous year and our personal goals for the new year, before we then got off to town on the way back to hotel. We had dinner at an eatery across the road where the dry ‘party rice’ low-point was consoled by the ‘waitress’ (madam’s daughter) who got everybody’s attention. I mean, for design intern potential. No dirty minds here plix. One of us ignored his change so there could be a reason to go back after we had all left. All his plans failed at the end of the day, to loud joy of us all. Infact, no phone contact was successfully received. *teeths out*.
We played Whot as we all converged in one of the rooms and practically unused the other rooms, took some more drinks we had left for freezing and there was the night and then the morning.
We had asked around for a football pitch the previous day and we eventually set out for the playing field of Olofin Grammar School. Did I mention that the view from the mountains was like Google map? We had carefully spotted the football pitches but of course on ground, more reality set in and all we saw and pointed to like kings we couldn’t find without asking.
Two of hours of 3-A-side football with a lot of dribbles, embarrassing plays from some of us who know nothing beyond designing and a number of goals as well as some minor injuries (necessary evil) culminates in what was the last fun activity of the trip.
Did we get a design inspiration from the trip or something that could justify our ‘waste of time’? Well… apart from the inspiration of the beauty of nature, we actually saw some abstract carvings (or to be sincere, straight lines) that was said to be some unreadable language from the past.
Well, what we saw was more of a series of straight lines. Like binary numbers.
But inspired we were. A great trip we had.
(Don’t mention. We know you loved the pictures. Photo Credits: Bamidele Azeez @bapstudios on Instagram. You may stop by on our page as well @fourthcanvas).