Imo state is one of the 36 in Nigeria and lies in the South Eastern part of the country.Owerri is its capital and largest city. Its other major cities are Orlu and Okigwe.
Truth is, Imo has (compared to other states) little or no tourist attraction and I knew this before traveling but I came just to confirm the prejudice I’ve always heard about the people in the east, eat their food and see how beautiful their women are.
So, rather than narrate how everyday went, I’d do more of sharing my observations about different things I witnessed while roaming around the streets of the eastern heartland.
With the above in my 6th sense, I figured it’d be more profitable to explore the Owerri while Dami would hang out with Noble a close friend in Attah to enjoy his stay. So I went in search of a cheap hotel between Owerri and Atta to make it easier for us to link up when there’s need to.
After few minutes of soft walking, I spotted a decent hotel whose surrounding was conducive enough to dwell. #5,000 was all I had to surrender to enable me have access to one of their standard rooms for the night.
The Atta gate Hotel is a newly built hotel situated close to the popular Attah junction. Its standard rooms have been designed to ideally occupy just 2 persons (precisely a male and female).
I marveled at the interior as the whiteness of the duvet and bed-sheet are the first things which would catch any stranger’s attention. The floor tiles were as though they’ve been brutalized with excessive detergent. By the right (just below the flat-screen TV) stood a black comfortable work table while a portable fridge rested calmly beside the wooden bed. There stood a small fan just by the entrance of the toilet (even when the AC is functional).
The cleanliness of the toilet itself wouldn’t only make one want to eat in but also invite few friends. It was spacious too.
– The first of them I noticed were the roads- they weren’t laced with gold nor bronze but on a scale of 1-10, I’d give them a 6.5. The roads I saw were almost void of potholes and were convenient enough for drivers to move on.
-Though I saw less of schools, the few I saw were either dilapidated (causing an eyesore) or well-built to the taste of the ones I saw in Osun (trust me, Osun State has the best set of public schools in Nigeria in terms of architectural designs).
-There exists a 24/7 emergency health service and also a fire station and like almost every other state, electricity is epileptic, but since I dwelt in hotels all through, I barely felt the glitch.
-As presumed, internet connection was invincible in some places (specifically villages). I noticed this when I tried browsing the web whilst in Attah gate hotel and this made me decide against paying for another night despite the hospitable nature of Chidinma, the hotel’s receptionist who did all she could to keep me for another night.
The girls were scattered in varying colours (with the light-skinned taking the lead) and their shapes too will force a stranger place focus more than the intended time.
I saw prostitutes too! Yes. Like every other state, there are prostitutes in Imo, but the astonishing thing is you can barely tell who amongst them is. I wouldn’t have known without the help of my bike-man who went as far as telling me these girls charge the average of #500 for a quickie and #1,500 for an overnight face-off.
Ha! I met many of them in Imo.
At Attah junction was an industrious Oluchi- a beautiful mother of 1 who sells roasted yam. She took care of me like she wanted me as a second husband the moment she discovered I was a stranger.
Chidinma gave me her slippers on discovering I had misplaced mine. she is till date the friendliest hotel receptionist I have met. *seems I have this thing for Chidinmas*
Gloria too was awesome she warned me like a mum would her underage child when I told her I would be traveling to Oguta village to see the much-talked-about Oguta Lake. she told me never to attempt swimming because the lake eats people every month. hahahaha! …
The vulcanizer at Amajueke too was awesome, his control of English clearly beats mine. He educated me on how and where to get the best out of my adventures.I was particularly marveled by how he took so much pride in his profession while he addressed me.
How about the Okada rider I met at Oguta? his calm demeanor swayed me. He took out time to give me the better advice on how to reach my hotel since the route I intended plying was the longer and more expensive one. I can’t forget fineboi the canoe driver too! He collected #50 from me instead of #100 for a canoe ride when I told him I couldn’t understand his language but that I had come for sightseeing.
I can go on and on because these people gave me more than enough in terms of love, This completely changed my orientation about the people of Imo and the eastern part of Nigeria in general.
The bomb! for anyone who wants to have a feel of what they look like, the best time to try starts from 8pm. While I strolled by some, I got tempted to have a feel of all the delicacies on display but since the opportunity cost of doing so is me trekking back to Lagos, I withdrew.
In Imo (unlike many other states in Nigeria) there are no colour codes for cabs and buses. maruwa (tricycles) dominates in Imo as I can risk saying that for every bus, there were 3 tricycles. yeah, tricycles were that much.
Transportation too was affordable. Yes, I traveled many kilometers and got charged no more than #100.
I am of the opinion that the east cultivates more yams than any other region in the country. mehn, there is a yam roaster in almost every street from the creeks to the clean sides.
Roasted Ukwa with coconut too is very rampant. it is being hawked and sold for prices ranging from #50 – #100. I bought one at Amajueke and regretted I hadn’t bought more.
The palm trees
You see, if I were blindfolded and asked to sketch what Imo looked like in the early decades (before the early settlers got there), all I’d do is drawn as many palm trees as my pencil’s lead will permit. So imagine how many trees an HB pencil will sketch on a broad sheep of paper.
I loved the fact that almost every household (aside developed places like Owerri) has a farmland in front or beside their houses. What made this appeal to me was the fact households in other regions too have farms but majority of these farms are located far from their homes.
I can go on with the description but I feel these should do.
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will I want to Travel again to Imo?
The answer of course is a BIG yes.