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.

With friends in Russia @River Volga-Longest River In Europe

2. What does the word “Adventure ” mean to you?

The word Adventure means discovery. Life as a whole is an adventure, it is a discovery. But one has to be deliberate in seeking that adventure. Just like Mohammed goes to seek the mountain, traveling from Kano to Enugu was an adventure that meant discovering Enugu state even though I wasn’t aware of it by then traveling from Enugu to Lagos was another adventure which also meant discovering Lagos. Then I had to become deliberate in seeking that adventure. That meant looking to discover what was out there. The effort led to my discovery of a whole new people a whole new culture a whole language a whole new weather in Russia.
   

3. What have you learned from traveling over the years?

I have learned how very crucial as it is that we experience other people that are different from us. We must learn to understand our similarities as humans and better still our differences as a people. And how if these differences are harnessed properly, how we could make this world a really beautiful place to live in. When traveling you will meet all kinds of people and you will remain forever enchanted at how different a food might taste, how different music might be, how different a simple “hello” can be … yet in all these differences, you will find a common beauty that is so welcoming if you allow yourself the privilege. I learned how very rich our planet is.. talk about the geographical features, the flora and fauna , from the Aso rock in Nigeria to the lake Baikal in Russia unto the canal rocks in Australia … the cross river gorilla (endangered) in Nigeria, the Siberian leopard in Russia and the kangaroos in Australia. 

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.

Akwa Ibom Stadium
In Russia it was quite a different culture, people here were quite liberal, most didn’t care much about a supreme being, Russians are quite complicated but they can be very real and frank. Here people are quite honest about even basic stuff, you ask someone- “how are you?”  The typical English reply is -I am fine, right? Well in Russia, it’s a sincere answer, the person will tell you how they truly feel, if he says I am fine, it meant things were really good on his side else he will tell you I am not feeling good and not just I am fine the way the English reply.
At the Volga River with a friend
Australia
One distinctive thing about Russians I learned out of my nearly 3000 days  and nights there, is the mood swing, someone that just laughed with you can just turn red all of a sudden and act cold next minute, it’s quite typical here and people don’t see it as awkward , but I think it has to do with the funny climate they have (not sure though just a guess).
I ate all kinds of Russian food. Their cuisines are so wonderful and I learned how to make them. My best Russian dishes would be, borscht soup with chopped fresh beets as the main ingredient, shchi soup, okroshka which is a cold soup of mostly raw vegetables, ukha soup from all kinds of fish, vinaigrette salad, Olivier salad, pirozhki and last but not the least pelmeni. of traditional Russian drinks I love kvas and medovukha. I  listened to all kinds of Russian music. I found out that classical music as we know it today would have been nothing without the contribution from Russia (Thanks to the likes of Chaikovsky). I read a few Russian authors, including Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. I visited lots of cities. I must say that Kazan, Moscow, St Petersburg, and Volgograd stood out for me.
Russian Borscht

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.

Back parkers

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.

 

Uluru Hills

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.

Canal Rocks Western Australia
I just moved to America, Trump is now the President. I am experiencing a new kind of America, I am still learning a lot about America and Americans, just like a  baby learns gradually how to crawl,  later to walk then to  jump. One thing remains, unlike Russia, America is the home of capitalism everything has a price tag.
Busselton Jetty -longest wooden jetty (pier) in the world, stretching almost 2 km out to sea
As seen on google map from ISS

5. How much has traveling changed your view of the world?

Travelling changed absolutely everything for me. The most significant would be my moral code which moved away from its religious touch and took on a more global philosophical approach, for example leaning towards a normative ethical philosophy such as the “Golden rule”. Hope I  am not getting anyone confuse already? Well, I started appreciating life and began to see myself and others first as humans, consequently becoming a humanist. Even with all the horrors and evil we see in the world I found out that there is still peace and love and beauty in excess. Traveling made me a grateful and humbled man.
Museum in Oron

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.

DC

 Russia had so many interesting adventures especial whenever we moved across the Volga river. we did lots of camping and visited some evergreen islands. it would take a lifetime to explore the mysteries that lie along the Volga river. St Petersburg is particularly a beautiful city in the summer. Grab a bottle of wine with your best friend or significant other and stroll along the streets to experience the breathtaking wonder that is the white summer nights.

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.

Egypt-Giza
 
I came back to Nigeria in 2015 already a changed man with a burning desire to explore as much as I could with the time I thought I  had. I had work and family commitments so my movements were restricted this time around. I was able to explore Akwa Ibom state and it was really an epic adventure that took me through the birthplace of what we know today as Nigeria. There is so much of our history in that region it’s only sad that history has not been made compulsory in our educational institutions. I visited the amalgamation house and lord lugard’s very own residence. went back in time I  could only imagine how our great country was created. Gurara Falls in Minna would be the top of my list so far in Nigeria. This time around I decided to bring icing for my cake because I prepared a picnic basket full of red wine and wine glass. Sitting by the base of the waterfall and having a picnic is something I could not even dream of. It was divine!
Gurara Fall Nigeria

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.

City Beach, Perth Australia

8-Airports always tell a huge story about a new city, what airport were you really fascinated about and why?

It’s a draw for me between Doha and Dubai but Hamad international airport Doha did steal my heart. The airport is architecturally stunning I mean it is a masterpiece. There is comfort and ease at the airport and the systems there are quite efficient. My connection there was very smooth and seamless exactly what you would expect of a modern airport. I felt a culture and elegance that was both surprising and very delightful. I certainly felt welcomed!.
 
 

 You can follow Patrick on Instagram

Hamad-Airport-
Dubai Airport

@eze_ubuntu

Best regards,
Patrick.
  1. This one is the real definition of Ajala.
    I love the locations his choice of locations.

    Meanwhile, this is a nice initiative.
    Let’s expose the Ajalas of our time.

  2. wow……. Amazing…… I could really picture myself in those places. It’s beautiful. Keep it up.

  3. Ajala for real
    He’s a traveller indeed
    Well-taken shot wrapped up in a pretty-good write-up

  4. I will try and beat you soon

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