So it felt 3 months ago in early January when I embarked on a road trip from Abuja to this once-renowned-for-her-tin-but-still-famous-for-her-rocks city of Jos. With four route options to choose from, I decided to travel the Abuja-Keffi-Akwanga-Kaduna-Riyom route. My last visit to Jos was 5 years ago and in the last 17 years, I have visited Jos only a handful of times, all together spending less than 2 weeks there. So there was a lot of catching up for me to do.
Driving through Akwanga brought back memories of when we use to stay there as one of my dad's tour-of-duty places of posting in the Nigerian police. Images of our neighbours at the GRA, a family of Chinese doctors, and my primary school, which was a walking distance behind our house, flashed through my mind.
I also remembered, rather sadly, our fun-loving, athletic and smart pet dog "Boogie":
We were relocating from Jos to Akwanga and Boogie was seated at the back of the haulage truck with my late cousin Velnoe. We had journeyed past Wamba town and were headed for Akwanga when Velno suddenly, like in a movie stunt, appeared beside the right door of the truck shouting "stop, stop!", catching us off guard and bringing us to a hasty halt.
News flash: "Boogie had jumped out of the moving truck!"
Wow! Unbelievable it sounded. Tried as we could, our search efforts only revealed blood trails. That was to be the last we saw of Boogie.
I am usually fascinated by the great outdoors and so even though I was behind the wheels, my eyes were on the look-out for any interesting landmark, vegetation or activity. The mostly rocky and vegetated terrain around soon gave way to sun-scorched stretches of flat land as the road drive moved into the territory of Kaduna State from Nasarawa. The surrounding temperature also seemed to go up. A quick glance at my phone's google app indicated temperatures in the upper thirties. By now my car's air conditioning was just circulating hot air about. Repeatedly adorning the landscape were the charred remains of burnt trees, a sight that got me really concerned. Bush burning, to hunt for game meat and harness wood for domestic use, were obviously common practices around I concluded. I was still absorbed in my thoughts when the hugely diminished scope of the forest reserve area at the Plateau/Kaduna boundary caught my attention, signifying we were entering into the territory of Plateau State. Trailers and trucks, passenger buses and cars could be seen parked on all sides of the roads converging at this popular rest spot that the reserve had become, their occupants buying fruits from the roadside vendors or food from the makeshift wooden and rain-beaten, corroded zinc restaurants. I couldn’t but stop by to take some photos before driving on.
Navigating through the twists and turns, ups and downs of the rock formations famously called Hawan Kibo (the Ascent of Kibo) required cautious driving and by the time you get through, framing the horizon before you are even more imposing rocks and you begin to get a feel and taste of the cool weather this part of the Plateau is noted for. Cactus plants as fencing for houses and farmlands dot the neighbourhood of Riyom town. At the security checkpoints, your car gets surrounded by sellers of vegetables - fresh carrots, cabbage, lettuce, green peas - olive fruit, and surprise, surprise the big one, strawberry grown on the plateau! I was seeing it for the first time. Of course Plateau is known as the place of choice for irish potatoes so the road side is serviced by several potato kiosks.
After 5 hours on the road, I finally arrived at our family house at the Apata area of Jos city, a bit exhausted but feeling good about this city reunion. It was a Thursday so I had 2 more full days to move around and see things.