Calabar Chronicles 2

If you read my previous post you’ll know I’ve fallen in love with Calabar. The city oozes so much history and culture. So, if you’re like me and want to get the most out of the city, these are the places to go and things to do. Some are a bit obvious, others a bit more obscure.

  1. Marina Resorts, obviously. Everyone’s first port of call, I think, when they get into Calabar. There’s a games room, cinema, shops, bars and a beautiful view of the river. Go on a boat cruise- it’s fun and doesn’t cost much. There is also a slave history museum and I didn’t expect it to be any good because of how small it looked but I had such a blast here! Consider using the route leading to the back gate. This offers a whole different experience as you see the locals and the fishermen and the market women, and the river serves as a gorgeous backdrop and lends this place beautiful scenery. Sundays seem to be the busiest day at Marina. You’d think it would be Fridays or Saturdays but nothing wrong with Sundays, I guess.
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Sunsets at Marina

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  1. The Old Residency Museum. If you’re a history buff like me, chances are you’ll want to visit this place. Fun fact: the main museum building was the Governor House in Calabar during the colonial era. It was shipped directly from Britain to Calabar! I have no idea how they managed that but good for them!

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View of the museum from Capital Hill

 

  1. Drill Ranch, off Marian road: nature and animal lovers, this one’s for you! This place isn’t big or diverse enough to be called a zoo. However you’ll find deer (two in fact, named Beyonce and Blue. Ha) and a rather old parrot that apparently talks. At the facility, there are about 39 grill monkeys spanning four generations, including its first drill, named “Calabar” who is now a great grandmother. This place is a bit difficult to find though, so make sure you ask, ask, ask.

 

  1. Court of Appeal. This isn’t a tourist attraction. It’s so off the beaten path that I like to believe I’m the only one that knows about this place (blame my ego, haha). The buildings are rustic- uncompleted in fact, and give off this abandoned vibe (great place for a photoshoot if you’re interested. You’re welcome;-)

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5. Tinapa (obviously). Calabar’s premium tourist destination, Tinapa offers various activities from entertainment, business, agro-tourism, hospitality and culture among others for individuals, groups and families. The resort boasts an artificial tidal lake whose source is the Cross River, a games arcade, ‘Studio Tinapa’, a water park, restaurants and an amphitheater. Tinapa is also home to the Calabar Free Trade Zone, Nigeria’s Free Trade Zone.

6. Army barracks, Ikot Ansa. Another unknown. Credit goes to a friend for finding this place. This massive expanse of land serves as a base for the Nigerian army but really we’re not interested in them, yes? This place has everything to offer. If you’re into nature- you’ll see miles and miles of lush green land, a few hills dotted here and there, almost like an afterthought. If you’re a building and concrete kinda gal (or guy) there’re colorful buildings for you, and if you…I’ll just let the pictures do the talking, shall I?

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7. The Calabar Carnival! A huge draw for people- local and international- the Calabar Carnival is the best carnival in Nigeria. It attracts a huge crowd every year, although the locals will tell you it just isn’t as great as it used to be which always leaves me wondering just how epic it was in its heyday. I wasn’t there last year but I did see preparations (like a dress rehearsal with numerous streets in Calabar being sealed off) and that’s the next best thing, no?

And there you go! The best places to go to in Calabar. There are places I’ve omitted, such as clubs (Club Jasper, Channel View) markets and shops (there’s Spar, Marian & Watts markets et al) just to avoid this post being too wordy. If you do intend to go to Calabar, I sincerely hope you have a great time. You might be a little disappointed at the city’s lethargic nature especially if you’re used to the hustle and bustle of cities like Lagos but I genuinely think this is just the general ‘vibe’ of the city. Just remember to keep both your eyes and mind open and you’ll be unearthing the subtle beauty that is Calabar in no time!

 

 

Calabar Chronicles

Calabar kind of sneaks up on you.

I wanted to hate Calabar. I really did, which is really strange considering I’d just about won a battle of wills against my parents to serve in Calabar instead of Abuja where I live. I had entertained myself with visions of an ultra-modern, gorgeous city, where, well, my dreams would come true. As the capital city of a state commonly referred to as ‘paradise’, I expected nothing less. Boy was I wrong. I thought Calabar was slow, slightly parochial and just plain boring. I promptly dubbed it Benin with better roads. I dislike Benin.

Like I said, Calabar sort of creeps up on you. A city with infinite layers, the beauty- and there is a lot of beauty- is often hidden, but that makes discovering it immensely rewarding. The turning point in my hate relationship with the city came when, lost and searching for the popular Marina resorts, I was taken through a road that leads to the back gate of the resort. The scene was much like one you would find in a typical Nigerian market- rowdy, noisy, shouts of “Come and buy..!” It was chaotic. But it was beautiful chaos. At the background of it all stood the Calabar River, magnificent and moody, its bank littered with rusty boats, some overflowing with fish. I was intrigued. It pays to be lost once in a while. I began to really see. The way random buildings would appear on an otherwise ordinary street, history seeping from their cracks. History. The city is filled to the brim with it. Looking out at the river it is not hard to imagine palm-oil laden ships sailing out to the Atlantic and foreign lands.

All in all, Calabar has personality- it’s subtle but enduring. It is not a garish city- it does not announce itself or display wealth because really, there isn’t much wealth. The capital city of Cross River is filled with lots of hidden gems. There’s a slice of wonder in every corner.

You’ll see it if you know what to look out for.

 

Unfound Doors

A little piece I wrote some time ago. It’s cheesy as heck but it portrays my feelings of wanderlust really well so:

Unfound Doors

Pathways to many universes

Secrets folded between thighs like napkins

Bask in the Ganges sun

In blue majestic moons

And red sprawling deserts

View the men of old, with time-worn hats and war-ridden gunnas

Take long peeks

Behind shadowy curtains

Dine with kings in Giza

Skip in the Dead Sea

Dive into your Dreams

Find you

Go. There are other worlds than these.

 

Seeking Narnia

Hello! Welcome to my blog!

I never really thought I’d actually start a blog and be serious about it. But it’s 3.45am, I’m drowning in all the feels that come with listening to a Sufjan Stevens song (Blue Bucket of Gold is my absolute favorite) and writing my very first blog entry!

Surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult when it came to the point where I had to choose a name for my blog. I’m notoriously indecisive (seriously, they tell stories about my indecisiveness) but my heart was settled on Searching for Narnia really early on and I think it is due to the symbolism Narnia holds for this blog and, by extension, me. I’ll explain Narnia to those of you unfamiliar with the word. At the height of WW2, four children find a hidden, magical world at the back of a wardrobe- a world inhabited by wondrous creatures that speak (yes speak!) and ruled by the evil White Witch.

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Lucy and the wardrobe

This is all fantasy, of course (unfortunately) but really, we are all just really concerned about the amazing world of Narnia here, and how it is symbolic of my constant need to escape the mundane and search for the kind of life I dream of. I’m aware all this may sound a tad cheesy haha, but it really how I feel. I yearn for unnamed things..for cobbled streets and lush green mountains and wild, exotic locations, and art and books, always books, and..okay, I’ll stop now, haha.

The purpose of this blog therefore, is to seek these experiences and share them with you, dear reader. If you’re interested, that is. 

Join me on this journey, will you?