Have you heard of Ofada Rice? If you live or have visited Nigeria, it is likely you have heard, seen or eaten Ofada Rice, usually served at Upscale Restaurants trying to give diners that home cooked feel, with designs and National Geographic simulations of how we should have been eating back in the good old days.
I looked up Ofada on the map and it is really close to Lagos, under an hour if you exit Lagos at Ikorodu and take the expressway leading to Ibadan. But that timing is on paper and getting it in real life is a dream, especially if you decide to travel on a public holiday which I did. I took off for Ofada and points West and North during the Eid holiday weekend, we left on Saturday a day after the holiday had started to reduce the traffic shock but I still went in a long loop.
Rather than go North from Lekki, I did a 100 km more by going through Epe, Ijebu Ode then Sagamu before descending into Ofada Town. Nice steady driving as against staying in traffic fending off crazy drivers on a mission to wreck their cars before they get home at past midnight.
I arrive Ofada town and then started looking for the rice fields….
No rice for lunch (or dinner) was the prognosis, back on the road, everyone I asked told me to go back to Sagamu and take the road to Abeokuta. My next stop was Oyan River Dam and I definitely did not want to go through the centre of Abeokuta so I head West again to Papalanto, I just like the name of the place.
A brief stop at a waterworks close to Ofada, in Mokoloki town. Lots of sand harvesting just downstream of the waterworks, travelling during a holiday weekend is interesting as some otherwise busy places will just be a shell of their hectic self.
40km of hellish road later, I met the main road coming from Ota to Abeokuta, at least one could drive on this without throwing up or losing any tooth filing. Up Northwards and approaching Abeokuta town, there was this lovely fenced compound with trees and a fully grown forest by the left. Long fence as I marked a kilometre with no break, when I got stopped by the police ahead, I finally saw the sign over the main gates, Aro Medical Centre… wow, the famous Aro Mental Health that has entered the Nigerian lexicon as a synonym for crazy.
The grounds look like a good place to camp, but the risk of being put in the dangerous inmate ward was not worth it so I continued on to Oyan River. I saw the big lake on google map and have been itching to go and see it in the real, it was worth the trip.
The night was drawing near, so a quick hop over the border to Igbo Ora in Oyo state and I shut down there for the night. Just that it was not so simple, getting permission to camp at the Catholic Church grounds took more than an hour! But I guess I wore the parish priest down and he finally relented and even gave me a room to pass the night.
Quick setup of the spirit stove, dinner washed down with rich cocoa and milk, then wash the inner cloths and backup all photos and videos, bed called and there was the end of the first day.