On our New column- “Ajala Of The Month” our first story is-The Adventure Series of Our Very Good Friend -Patrick Eze
Origin of the word “Ajala”-
Ajala is an African version of what Europe had -Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, James Cook, and Marco Polo, Asia had its Ibn Battuta and Zheng He and Africa had OLABISI AJALA. A very Nigerian man at heart and a proud African in soul, Ajala shattered all records of travel, voyaging into lands that no black person had ever seen not to talk of setting their feet there. Ajala had the world in hands, based on this we shall be naming this column in his memory. Watch this space!
Naidrenalin had an interview with Patrick, a wild traveler and adventurer, and also part of Naidrenalin. He shared his travel experiences and advice for travelers, especially how to travel on a budget.
1. How did your passion for travel start?
Well, let’s say my passion for travel was nurtured at a very young age. I was born in Kano state and my family moved to Enugu while I was barely two years old. I guess that travel from the northern part of Nigeria down to the eastern part left a mark I wasn’t aware of. I grew up in Enugu and it wasn’t until I was 18 that I went on the road again this time it was to Lagos to see my mum off as she was traveling to the USA. This is where the light of travel was lit inside me.
So after high school, I knew I had to do everything possible to get my higher education outside Nigeria. I wanted to see what the rest of the world had to offer. But.there was one problem, my family couldn’t afford my study abroad so that meant that I had to be on scholarship. My search led me to Russia and that was my first venture outside Nigeria.
2. What does the word “Adventure ” mean to you?
3. What have you learned from traveling over the years?
4. As someone who have lived in 4 different continents and spent more than 6 months in each, tell us a brief experience of each and which is your favorite?
I have lived in Nigeria (birthplace) , Russia (higher education and work ) and Australia (work and travel). Nigeria is home and banal as it may sound east or west home is still the best. Nigeria is a very religious country and quite traditional/cultural. So I grew up in a very religious home. the last out of six children growing up was fairly easy and stress-free. I was probably a little wild and that would be because of the adventurous spirit. You can also tell I was outdoors often by the scars on my body. So growing up I was mostly exposed to Christianity (catholicism) and the Igbo culture (my parents are from the Igbo tribe). What that meant is a particular style of worship and a particular type of cuisine and most times a particular type of arts and culture. Growing up was fun, I discovered early I was a people’s person so making friends was never a problem for me. I had friends both old and young. The ones thatt we go hunting for snails and bush meat with, ones we just play around with and ones we would trek long distances in search of new adventures. I left Nigeria in 2006 a teenager with optimism and various convictions that are born from my religious beliefs and culture but I came back to Nigeria in 2015 after living in Russia and Australia without religion and little regard for traditions and culture. I came back with a global mindset believing I am a citizen of planet earth. Yet I would never have survived the uncharted territory that is Russia if not for the kind of life experience I had in Nigeria.
In Australia things were again different, I got a culture shock at the airport in Perth western Australia at my arrival. After 8 years in Russia I got used to faces that don’t smile a lot. Smiling and laughter was left for the close people around you. So we’d just come from the plane and I went straight to a stand where I could get some Australian dollars, the lady behind the counter greeted me with such a dazzling smile and so excited that I became suspicious, she probably wanted something more from me because you don’t greet a stranger with such wonderful smiles in Russia. I drove from the airport and stopped a block from my hotel so I could just walk and get a first glance of the city. The people on the streets were amazing, almost everyone who noticed I was probably new would go “hey mate” again with a smile. then I realized the fair lady at the airport was only being Australian. I had 18-month temporary residency visa so I needed to get the most out the very short time I had. I had a plan already. find a place to live then travel for a couple of months then get a job then continue traveling. I got into my hotel that first night and I didn’t waste a moment. took a shower and went straight out into the nightlife of Perth. That night I learned about backpacking which is a form of low cost independent traveling. I met so many backpackers from Europe especially.
I spent the night feeling like a backpacker. I learned of the term “house share” also which basically means renting a house with other people to reduce costs. I put up an ad the next day of the kind of house I was looking for and my budget and 3 days later I moved into a beautiful lifestyle home. My initial travels took me only as far as Broome before I seriously needed to get a job. I drove for more than 24 hours to Broome and trust me the cable beach there was well worth the ride. An endless long stretch of pristine beach with sand dunes is definitely a sight to behold. The next 17 months saw me get a job with Virgin Australia as a flight service engineer.A dream job because working with virgin Australia meant very affordable flights within Australia. I didn’t take full advantage of this staff benefit until my last couple of weeks in Australia when I embarked on a marathon tour of the country. Flying from Perth, Western Australia to Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney in New South Wales, to Brisbane in Queensland then to Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the Northern Territory and back to Perth. I spent 3 -4 days in each destination and the city that took my breath away would be the capital Canberra.
The city’s design was heavily influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation that have earned Canberra the title “bush capital”. There was so much to see and I ended up spending the most days of my tour here. At the top of my priority list, of course, was visiting Uluru which is sacred to the Aboriginal people of Australia. I experienced the springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings that were in abundance. Uluru is truly a wonder to behold. The whole world is represented in Australia so it was no surprise that the friends I made both from work and outside included people from all six continents. If not the aboriginals one can hardly find an answer to who is an Australian. I was leaving Australia with a heavy heart but also with a promise to myself that I was certainly going to be back and most likely it will be to stay, a reason why Australia remains the best place I have visited so far on planet Earth.
5. How much has traveling changed your view of the world?
6. What are some interesting places in cities and countries you’ve traveled to? (In Russia, Egypt, Australia, Nigeria, US)
Like I said I’ve just relocated to the US so I am basically still settling in, my travels are slated for the near future. I haven’t really gone anywhere except exploring the Washington DC, the National Mall area. there are some pretty impressive structures there especially the Washington monument. such an imposing structure, larger than I could have ever imagined.
Egypt was a rare case of being at the right place at the right time, a perfect example of me deliberately seeking adventure. I had a 24hr stopover in Cairo and I made up my mind not to spend a single second than necessary. I spend a better part of the 24 hours I had in Egypt visiting the pyramids and great sphinx of Giza traveling along the river Nile, visiting the Egyptian museum in Cairo and venturing into the streets of Cairo. The peak of this adventure was galloping on a horse around the pyramids. It’s a feeling that is out of this planet. Egypt gave me one of the wonders of the world- The great pyramid of Giza. My second wonder was Uluru in Australia.
7. Is Travelling cheap or on a budget possible especially for international trips, if yes how?
I am not millionaire but I have gone to places only a millionaire could afford
The saying cut your coat according to your cloth works in all life endeavors and that includes traveling. It takes a bit of research and planning, but yes, traveling can be on a budget. I am not a millionaire, but I have gone to places only a millionaire could afford. How? Research and planning. One secret is that two heads are better than one. When it comes to travel the more the heads the better. If you are talking international the biggest cost is usually the flight tickets what this means is that you have to watch out for sales or you plan way ahead of time. That involves buying your tickets at least six months early in some cases.
Getting accommodation has never been a problem, it is here that two heads or more means cheaper accommodation. Hostels are common in most travel destinations now, they cost little to nothing, It’s always cheaper to have a shared accommodation with other people. When you arrive a new place look for a local guide and ask the locals about the place. With the locals, you will nowhere get stuff free or cheap.
8-Airports always tell a huge story about a new city, what airport were you really fascinated about and why?
You can follow Patrick on Instagram