From The Horse’s Mouth | Ene Unravels Maiduguri & Damaturu
We particularly love this piece because it’s about an area in Nigeria that most are afraid of but not once did Ene feel unsafe.
Ene Abah is an adventure lover, food lover, travel lover, writer, naturalista and is particular about sending positive vibes to others.
She works with a humanitarian organisation and volunteers with young adults and displaced people.
Some of her interests are in writing, travelling, reading and generally enjoying life. Her writing has been published in Top Chic magazine, Imbue magazine, on Imbue’s website, Bella Naija and blogs at http://belletammy.blogspot.com.ng/.You can also follow her on twitter.
We hope you love what she has to say.
Give us a brief description of where you went and what the trip was about.
I went to Maiduguri in Borno state and Damaturu in Yobe state. It was a work trip.
Was accommodation required for this trip? If yes where did you stay and what was it like?
Yes, accommodation was required. In Maiduguri, I was in a private residence from work while in Damaturu, I was in ‘Classic Montage Motel’. Classic was not the best. It is a small place and the generator is right in front so the sound does not go away. You consciously have to block the sound out if you are sensitive to noise. The mattress in the room where I stayed needs to be changed as it dipped once I lay on it. I spent most nights moving from one side of the bed to another. I don’t know if this was the same for all rooms.
A hotel I hear is good in Damaturu is GAAT hotel. So that might be one to try when next I go there.
What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
There was nothing particularly surprising as I had to follow security rules. There was a limit to where I could go or what I could do. One thing that was pleasant to me however is the resilience with which people are getting their lives back together and not allowing fear to stop them from living. The states in the North East of Nigeria have particularly suffered from the crisis happening there. There is a lot of suffering, but it seems like things are slowly on the mend.
What was your best moment of the entire trip?
My best moment was interacting with people in the villages. I work for a humanitarian organisation so we see the difference our work makes. The joy these people get from the things we do gives a sense of fulfillment.
What was the scariest moment (if any)?
None, as I did not feel unsafe at any point.
Did you find any sights or activities a bit off the beaten track ie beyond the tourist traps?
I didn’t go on a tourist trip but managed to get some photos.
What are two interesting things about Maiduguri/Damaturu that the average person doesn’t know?
- People are warm and nice + life is pretty much normal.
- I have heard a few people infer that as you walk on the streets, you should worry at every moment but that is not the case at all.
Did you meet any locals? If yes, what were they like?
Many. They were beautiful people, warm and happy despite all.
What was the funniest/strangest/most insightful thing a local said?
Insightful – we were constantly prayed for, thanks to our work.
What was the hardest or most frustrating part of the trip?
The curfew…especially in Maiduguri. Our curfew was at 7pm and I wanted to venture out to see what the town was like at night. I could not break security rules as an organisation sent me there and is quite strict.
Did anything go wrong that seems funny now?
Did you eat anything locally, if yes, what was your favorite?
The ‘masa’ in Maiduguri was ah-ma-zing! The ‘gas meat’ was great in Damaturu also. I had it in Maiduguri in 2014 and I don’t remember it being as good as it was in Damaturu. I asked a few people how it was prepared but they didn’t seem to know. One said, I just eat it, no idea how it is prepared.
If you ate locally, what was the strangest thing you ate?
I wouldn’t say strange but something I didn’t like was the soup made with moringa leaves (called zogelai in Hausa, not sure if I spelt it correctly). I didn’t like it and it got me nauseous. I hope nobody feels offended by this…
What were the cost implications of this trip?
The cost of living up North is cheap; far cheaper than in Abuja. For instance, the rooms we stayed in cost N7,000 ($22). You could get a good plate of food from N600 ($1.91) to N900 ($2.86) which was nice.
Now that you’ve been there yourself, when you think of your trip what’s the first image that comes to your head?
Vast arid lands, baobab trees…
Would you revisit or ever move there?
Yes, I definitely will go back.
*All pictures used in this post belong to Ene.
*foreign conversion is based on the current rate of the Naira and is subject to change.
*prices written are based on the time the visit was made and is subject to change by the owners.
*Reviews are based on opinions and personal experiences, and may differ from person to person