Storytime – Cosmos goes to Abuja

Recently, due to certain reasons, I had to make my way to Abuja. Due to the current state of the Abuja Airport, I must admit I was somewhat reluctant to make the journey but nevertheless the trip was necessary and off I went.

The beginning of my journey was not the most auspicious. I had purchased a ticket to fly directly to Kaduna where there was free transportation to Abuja. There seemed to be an issue with the flight, not surprising considering that I was flying ArikAir, but due to the fact the only people going on said flight was me and one other gentleman we were instead placed on a flight to Lagos and I gained a travel companion. Upon arriving, with a little difficulty, our airline provided a bus which shuttled us to the Local Departures. There awaited us a two hour long wait and some rather unimpressive coffee, then the flight was delayed and we had to wait another hour. Finally, the two of us as well as other passengers heading out from Lagos boarded the flight.

Upon arriving in Kaduna, we were quickly able to claim our luggage and we were all quickly directed to the bus. The whole process was impressively quick as with-in 15 to 20 minutes of arrival, we were leaving Kaduna Airport to make way to Abuja Airport. The journey itself was not quick, we were all on that bus for 4 hours before we arrived in Abuja Airport. Luckily someone had managed to arrange a car to send me to my hotel. La’Don hotel may not be a 5-star but they offer clean rooms at extremely reasonable rates.

Due to my reason for coming, as well as the short time I spent there, I wasn’t able to see much of the city. I was able to visit Southern Fried Chicken for lunch however and I have to say they are far more modernized than their counterparts in Tema. I also visited a nearby mall and I have to say they keep security pretty tight there. On a side note, the cheapest place to buy a bottle of water seems to be Shoprite where a 750ml bottle of Eva goes for 65 naira. EVERYBODY drinks Eva in Nigeria. I have to say that my most memorable experience was riding a ‘Keke’, if I got the name wrong my apologies and please correct me, they are more common and far cheaper than taxis.

My return trip was rather uneventful, the only thing worth noting is that on the flight is that beside me there was only one other passenger on the flight. That certain made for an interesting trip.

Cosmos out

21 Jobs for People who Love to Travel

Are you a wanderlust at heart but cannot afford to travel the world? Are you dreaming of quitting that boring job and doing something exciting but cannot afford to not work? Well, what if I told you there are jobs you can do that can guarantee you a tour around the world and put some money in your bank account? So that means after a year or two of satiating your wanderlust heart, you will still have enough money to keep you going. Yes! There are jobs out there that can make you indulge in what you love while making some money. These jobs include;

1. International Aid Worker 

If you want to help make a difference and impact lives while satiating your wanderlust heart, then consider working with a humanitarian organisation. With this job, you can visit struggling countries and make an impact in through education, agriculture, social work, health services etc. 

2. English Teacher

The English language is a sought-after skill in the world and if you are fluent in this language, then work as an English teacher in a foreign land. You get to make an impact in the lives of others while exploring a new land, culture, cuisine etc.

PS: You should love teaching and have the skill. You will have to learn the language of the country you will be teaching at.

3. Tour Guide

How does this sound to you? Move to a new country. Study all about it. Then show travellers what you have learnt? Or become a tour guide in your own country. This means you get to explore each part of your motherland and share with others. Charity begins at home, remember? 

PS: You must be the outgoing, friendly and chatty type. You may have to learn a new language.

4. Flight Attendant

This job can be exhausting but also very rewarding. With the many sights and places, you will visit, you will even forget about the fact that you are never home, that it entails working crazy hours and lifestyle, and that passenger with the bad attitude. Also as a flight attendant, you will be offered discounts on flights for you and your family. Wouldn’t that be fun?

5. Retail Buyer

This job is for the fashionistas with a wanderlust heart. As a retail buyer, you will deal with retail purchasing, monitoring in-store inventory, identifying industry and consumer trends, attending vendor meeting, conferences and trade shows across the country and even the world depending on where the company sources its products. This job is not only in fashion/clothing stores though, most large retail companies also do same.

6. Sailor 

If you are into marine engineering and love traveling, then become a sailor. You will get the chance to visit so many places and make large sums of money. You will however be away from home at least 3 – 9 months a year. If you are fine with that, then why not?

7. Cruise line worker

This is not for those of us living in Ghana but for those of you with such opportunities in your country, why not work on a cruise ship? You get to meet new people, network, get free accommodation and food while visiting many different places.

8. Work for an international hotel chain

Traveling around the world begins from home and working with an international hotel means having the opportunity to visit its branches within the country. And the opportunity to be transferred to another country within the company. Though it may seem like a long process, it would be totally worth it.

9. Work for the Government

Getting a job in the government sector is not easy especially at the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry. But if you are lucky enough to get a job over there, then you will be able to travel the world for business as positions in this ministry offers you wide travel opportunities. However, you will likely be posted to a place you may not want but we must make the best of every situation, right?

10. Travel Agent

This job requires you booking flights and holiday spots for other people while getting heavy discounts on your own travels. There are also times where you will have to visit a holiday spot first before you can send clients and the company pays for it. How cool is that? Then there are those amazing families who would like you so much they will invite you on their trips, for free.

11. Travel Writer / Blogger

There are so many tourist agencies and hotels who need people like you to tell the world about them. So, if you start off writing, sharing your experiences and great spots, you will become a reference point to many travellers and that is when you get paid. From the beginning, you will have to work for free and spend your savings on traveling but after a while with good marketing strategies and consistency, you will attract the right people who will pay you to travel, stay at their hotels or just promote their tourist sites – and you can’t promote something you haven’t seen, right???. 

12. Travel Photographer

If you are a great photographer, you can travel, take photos and sell them. This will require an initial investment but in time, you will be able to make the money you deserve and travel. There are also travel agencies who take photographers on their trips, why not apply to such companies?

13. Archaeologist

Do you love history? Are you curious about ancient sites and artifacts? Do you want to recover missing ancient culture and items? Why don’t you become an archaeologist? This job offers you trips around the world to research projects often in remote regions around the world. 

14. Athletic Recruiter

I doubt there is this job opportunity in Ghana but this job entails being employed by professional sports organizations and colleges to travel the world recruiting upcoming talents. You must know the games / sports inside out and specific skills an athlete will need for certain positions on the team. This would be easy for you if you are an avid sport fan.

15. Au Pair

If you love children, know a second language and would not mind living with a host family, then this job is for you. You will be like a nanny who stays with a family babysitting, assisting with schoolwork and housework while receiving a small salary, accommodation and food. You will however get the chance to explore a different culture and make an impact in the lives of the children.

16. Construction Manager

Construction Managers do not only make good money but also get to do lots of traveling. When employed for a job, a construction manager will relocate to the location for several months to oversee the project. If you do not have the qualifications for this job, you can still apply to a construction company as they usually need support staff to relocate with the construction manager.

17. Project Manager

If you are lucky enough to be the project manager for an international company or a local company affiliated to an international one, then that means you will be doing a lot of traveling. These traveling may not always be to the exotic places you may yearn for but will totally be worth it. For the local companies, just imagine exploring your own country? How cool is that?

18. Destination Wedding Photographer

You must be really good and talented at this and build a clientele with the couples you shoot, also their friends to help you gain more clients. Every wedding needs someone to capture the moment and with destination wedding being a “thing” now, you are in luck. Most destination weddings are to really cool exotic places and though you would be mostly shooting the ceremony, that does not mean you cannot explore the place.

19. Event Coordinator

Though this job often centres around local parties, wedding etc., you can work on some largescale events like festivals and trade shows where you get to travel to event location and also network.

20. Executive Assistant

This job can be annoying especially as you will usually be at the beck and call of your boss but it can be very rewarding if you work for a high corporate executive who travels around the world. This means all-expense paid trips and seeing new places.

21. Traveling Nurse

Traveling nurses are moved around the world to places where they are needed the most. Accommodation, travel expenses will be covered for. You will also earn a salary. This is however for nurses who will love to travel and work temporarily at different locations.

PS: For those of you with free time on your hand, you can volunteer with an NGO abroad and explore the country while giving back to society. Kailend – an NGO located in Lome, Togo is seeking volunteers for their new project and that is where I am going. I will be sharing with you reasons why you should volunteer abroad next Wednesday.

Be Bold for Change – IWD 2017

“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein

International Women’s Year ( IWY ) was the name given to 1975 by the United Nations. Since that year March 8 has been celebrated as International Women’s Day. This day celebrates the achievements of women around the world while promoting gender equality. This celebration comes with an accompanying theme and for the year 2017, the theme is “Be Bold For Change”. As today is IWD and I am a travelblogger, I will be sharing travel quotes by women and hope this will ginger more women to not only travel but also to pursue their dreams.

Here we go;

“The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life.” – Agnes Repplier

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”- Anais Nin

“If you don’t get out of the box you’ve been raised in, you won’t understand how much bigger the world is.” – Angelina Jolie

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” – Barbara De Angelis

“I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone.”- Daphne du Maurier

“I didn’t know where I was going until I got there.” – Cheryl Strayed

“To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

“You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you with yourself.” – Ella Maillart

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.” – Freya Stark

“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” – Freya Stark

“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

“Traveling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing.”- Gayle Foreman

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.” – Hannah Arendt

“Adventure should be part of everyone’s life. It is the whole difference between being fully alive and just existing.” – Holly Morris

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.” – Isabelle Eberhardt

“Traveling solo does not always mean you’re alone. Most often, you meet marvelous people along the way and make connections that last a lifetime.” – Jacqueline Boone

“Travel is as much a passion as ambition or love.” – Letitia Elizabeth Landon

“Travel opens your mind as few other things do. It is its own form of hypnotism, and I am forever under its spell.” – Libba Bray

“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.”- Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

“It is in all of us to defy expectations, to go into the world and to be brave, and to want, to need, to hunger for adventures. To embrace the chance and risk so that we may breathe and know what it is to be free.” – Mae Chevrette

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Mary Ritter Beard

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou

“An adventure may be worn as a muddy spot or it may be worn as a proud insignia. It is the woman wearing it who makes it the one thing or the other.” – Norma Shearer

“To me, travel is more valuable than any stupid piece of bling money can buy.” – Raquel Cepeda

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

“When you’re traveling with someone else, you share each discovery, but when you are alone, you have to carry each experience with you like a secret, something you have to write on your heart, because there’s no other way to preserve it.” – Shauna Niequist

“The more I travelled the more I realised that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends” – Shirley MacLaine

“You must go on adventures to find out where you belong.” – Sue Fitzmaurice

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” – Virginia Woolf

I hope these quotes will get you off your oars to go see the world.

Happy Women’s Day to all women out there. You’re awesome! You keep our world in balance! Thank you!

My Last Night in Togo

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My heart is still in the streets of Togo

Togo is my little sanctuary where I go to unwind and leaving for Ghana always makes me very emotional. So on Monday which was my last day, I stayed in my room half of the morning thinking about the things awaiting me in Ghana. To be honest, I was not happy about it. I did not want to come back home. I have such freedom and liberty in Togo that I did not want it to end.

 

The morning of my last night

When I finally dragged myself out of bed, El had already made breakfast – oats with honey, fried eggs, tea, baguette with butter and jam. She works from and she was hoarding the living room so I had breakfast on the balcony which did not have a spectacular view. But still something to reflect on and that was what I did. After breakfast, I stayed in my room reading some poems on her kindle and slept a bit.

 

The afternoon of my last night

The last time I was in Togo, I wanted to visit the Grande Marché but most shops at the market do not open on Sundays so I was not able to visit. So during my four days in Lomé, I added it to my itinerary. I needed to get some traditional prints and souvenirs for some friends and family. I told Ellen about it and she suggested the secondhand market with was closer to us and much cheaper. I remember I visited that market in 2006 and well, I did not mind revisiting memories from the past.

I could not go with Ellen though because she had to work. I had to go to with Olivia, one of the most interesting people I met in Togo. I was excited to go with Livi but the problem was; I speak basic French and she speaks basic English so communication was going to fun as hell. I remember telling El that Livi and I will have to resort to sign language. The Airport City where we live is not far from the Market but the 600 CFA the Cab driver charged was a bit on the low for me.

The second hand market is like Ghanaian Makola Market and Cantamanto merged together but with more parking space. We all know how noisy markets are but this noise was pleasant in my ears – rawness of the Togolese French. There was a big building where traders were selling their goods. The market is really an easy place to get lost so Livi took my Togo number just in case we got lost. We spent about three hours there searching for the specific items I needed and in good quality. I bought so many items from the market and they were all new.

Unlike the Ghanaian market where you can try on clothes before buying, some traders in the market refused to let you try on clothes with were alright. We later went in search for the black soap I fell in love with from my last visit and also some sheabutter El needed. When we left the market, I had gotten many stuff yet spent so little. I said this to Livi and she told me that many people cannot afford these stuffs, they are too expensive.

And before I forget, Livi and I did not resort to sign language. We understood each other very well.

 

The evening of my last night

El gets out of work after 7:00 pm so we decided to have dinner afterwards. We were not in the mood to cook that evening so we decided to go get something and dine in. we however did not know what to eat. After some thoughts, we settled on some Lebanese dishes. El told me about Le Phenicien restaurant which was a 30 minute drive who makes very good Lebanese meals. So we called Ali who had been in Togo for a while and knew almost everyone there. He ordered for our meals and offered to drive us there.

Le Phenicien restaurant is beautiful – the lobby has a bakery, icecream parlour and sitting area. There is an inner room for dining. When we got there, the owner came to greet us and El passed a comment about how we will get served quickly because the owner knows Ali. And she was so right. Within 10 minutes, our food was in our hand and we were leaving the restaurant. Ali and I however feasted on some icecream and also got some croissant for breakfast the next day.

The ride back home was convincing Ali to join us for dinner which he did. We even got him to write a poem for the very first time and I must say, he is a natural. After Ali left at 10:30pm, El and I just sat there and talked about our dreams, desires, weaknesses and the fact that I should move to Togo.

That night in my bed, I told myself that maybe, I should move to Togo.

 

Love,

NJB

Le Lac Togo

When I saw Ellen’s photo at Lake Togo, I knew I had to visit. Lakes are not really my thing. I would choose the sea anytime but Ellen’s photo was really catchy so I added the Lake to my itinerary when I visited.

Lake Togo is on the route to Aného (a town in the southeast which was the first German capital of Togo in the 1880s). The Lake is about an hour drive from Airport City and since there is no traffic in Togo, the journey is really pleasant. We visited on a lazy Sunday afternoon and since it was already after 3:00 pm, we knew we wouldn’t stay longer like we would have liked. We asked the cab driver to wait for us. It would have been really silly to have him go all the way to Lomé and back. We were also not certain we could get a cab back home so we did not risk it.

The hotel we chose at Lake Togo is called O Lodge Africa. It is something like a water / amusement park which was built with children in mind. It has activities that can be undertaken with children as well as adults. At the gate, we were asked to pay 5,000 cfa each to enable us have access to the swimming pools in the hotel. It seemed a bit pricey to me but after converting the money to Cedi, I realized it was alright. But then the question at the back of my mind was what if I do not want to get in the pool? Then it would mean I paid 5,000 cfa to go inside a hotel which is supposed to be a public place.

The hotel has been divided into three sections with bamboo walls separating each section; an open dining area; hotel rooms and a sitting area on the lake.

The first section has waterslides with two swimming pools and a playground. One of the pools is in the form of a tub and it is very shallow – just right for children.

The second one has a pool, sitting area with carpet grass, a bathroom behind it and dining area right opposite it. I realized the young adults preferred this area.

The third section has a pool right infront of the hotel rooms; close to the Lake and has a picturesque view so that was where we sat watching those on the boat rides and admiring nature.  

Activities at the hotel

  • Boat rides
  • Swimming
  • Horseback rides

After a swim, we moved to the sitting area on the lake and ordered nems poulet as entrée and then followed with ham and cheese sandwich with pickles. Our bill was only 12, 250 cfa for such a delicious meal.

Our cab driver who waited for us for more than two hours charged us 10, 000 cfa which I find shocking up to today.

 

Love,

NJB

An Overnight Stay in Lomé

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I left my heart in the streets of Lomé

 

I fell in love first with the clean beaches of Lomé and my love gradually developed as I saw the rest of the country. On Saturday afternoon however, I was disappointed on how dirty the beaches were but that did not make me love the country any less. I had expected to get to Togo by noon but I got a little delayed and got there at 2pm. I went through the normal immigration headache and was such a relief when I got to Ellen’s apartment at Cité de l’Aéroport.

 

3:15 pm

We had decided to go for lunch so we went to Le Patio which is behind the University of Lomé. This is the place where most dignitaries dine so I must say it’s pretty fancy. The place has the same theme as Villa Boutique Hotel in Ghana. All wooden furniture with African prints sofas and a swing close to the pool. I must say French people know good food and great service. We had pizza though we would have preferred something else. The kitchen had closed for lunch and was making dinner so all they could serve was pizza and fresh juice. After the meal, we sat underneath a cloth like tent until we were ready to leave.

 

9:00 pm

Ellen and I met with Ali and Bishr later in the evening to have dinner at Le Philipat – a creative themed restaurant with soft music, photos, lanterns and butterfly paintings on the wall. The place was totally packed and after tasting their meal, I understood why. As I said French people know good food and great service. I requested for rose wine but I was given white and it was quickly changed. For entrée, I have a seafood salad and for dinner, I had fish fillet and mushroom sauce with rice. After dinner, we sat there to admire the place and talk for a while. The night was however too young so we decided to visit another place.

 

10:30 pm

We arrived at a rooftop café called Beach Café. It looked simple from the outside and the stairway did not seem fancy so I was not prepared for what met me on the roof.  It was magical! Felt like I had just stepped into Prince Charming’s ball. Well, if the ball had been on the beach, I suppose the Beach Café would have been it.  

  • Wooden canopies and white flowing curtains give you that breezy Californian feel
  • Blue lighting and yellow lanterns set a beautiful contrast like ice and fire
  • Comfortable sofas and soft music which relaxes you
  • Spacious dance area for those who can move to the rhythm
  • Wonderful beach view since the Café is just opposite the Lomé Beach

While we sat at the bar, there were bikers practising on the streets for a pending race. This added more spice to the evening.

 

2:00 am

We went to La Villa which is so much like Firefly in Osu, Ghana. That place was made for dancing. In Ghana, I may be one of the worst dancers but in Togo (with Ellen, Ali and Bishr), I was the Dance Queen. But who can blame them? In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. The DJ I must say knew how to work the beats. Every single song had a beat I could move to but what got me on fire was when Castro’s “Seiho Seiho” started playing. That was when I realized that no matter where you travel to, you’d always want a bit of home with you.

At 3:30 am, we were all in Ellen’s apartment having some hot tea and reliving the day’s event.

If you happen to be in Lomé for an overnight stay, I will suggest you visit these places which will not cost more than 30,000 cfa depending on your taste.

Lunch   – Le Patio

Dinner – Le Philipat

Drinks – Beach Café

Dancing – La Villa

 

Love,

NJB

Into the Wild

They say “it is not about the destination, it is all about the journey”. I do agree but when it comes to Mole National Park and Motel, I will say it is about both the journey and the destination. The Mole National Park is the largest wildlife reserve in Ghana found on a savannah woodland ecosystem. It is situated at the township of Damongo in the northern region. This park is filled with different species of wildlife which includes amphibians, antelopes, baboons, birds, buffalos, elephants, hyenas, kobs, leopards, lions, monkeys, reptiles and warthog.

The journey to the North is long and stressful by road, but the memorable sights along the way will make up for the stress. So I recommend you travel by road and return home by air. This was how my friend Konstantinos travelled to Mole Park last month. Though he had many complaints about the journey, the car and Mole motel, he had so many beautiful things to say about the tourist sights he visited. He would however have wished to stay at the luxurious Zaina Lodge if he had known about it earlier.

On their way to the Mole Park, they visited the Boabeng–Fiema Monkey Sanctuary at Nkoranza and the Kintampo waterfalls which was breathtaking. At their destination, they took a tour through the township of Damongo, visited the Larabanga Mosque which is the oldest in Ghana and a safari tour / adventure at the Mole National Park.

I will pause here now and show you breathtaking photos taken by Konstantinos. Someone tell the man he should be a photographer.