Sunday, 4 August 2013

Iseyin- Hanging Lake

I will be honest enough to admit that I have had a few moving moments in my life in the last thirteen months, some more pivotal than the rest, others just serving the need to push one along, but deeply moving moments nonetheless.
On my nineteenth day at the Iseyin Residency, we went on this trip to Ado Awaye- a town right next to Iseyin, to see a hanging lake. From the name I guessed we would do some climbing and be richly rewarded at the end with the sight of this strange phenomenon of a lake hanging at the top of something; your guess is as good as mine.
I did not leave Lagos with hiking gear, but that was no deterrent to me, I wanted to see the lake come canvass sneakers or crochet sandals.
When we got to the bottom of this particular hill I completely forgot about the bumpy ride, and the many times my fellow writers and I wondered why that part of the adventure came in a shock absorber-less vehicle.

I had a few apprehensions when the old tour guide made statutory warnings that people with chest pain and arthritis were advised to steer clear of the climb, because the exertion we were all about to embark on was more tedious than playing football. Hmmm.
I asked for clarification on the chest pain and he said, if you usually feel pain in that area after any activity, then you are advised not to do the climb. But one was not mandated to complete the climb once we started, were we? To this he said no. one could always stop at any point where one got tired.
I was using a diskus inhaler at the time, but just to be on the safe side, I quickly pushed my Salbutamol inhaler into the front pocket of my jeans. I also tore a few sheets off my jotter and pushed a pen into my back pocket. I found my mobile phone and slid it into one of my pockets.

The stairs wound up the sides of the hill slowly and I prayed for the stamina to see me through, even as I prayed more that my chest would cooperate. I had a lot of faith in my chest you see. I had been away from Lagos’ smoke ridden belly and my chest had enjoyed some respite in the last two weeks or so.
At some point halfway up the hill, Chioma and Bilqisu; my fellow writers at the residency threw in the towel. I left them to keep each other company after  taking a snap shot with them.
We continued up at the next flight of stairs and then a rather steep climb which had me thinking it was a good time to use my inhaler. 
The climb continued, all the while the old guide- who by the way didn't show a drop of sweat- kept telling us that the most difficult part of the journey was over; from that point it was plain walking on the rock’s near flat surface.

The view was Beautiful!
 There were bits of rock jutting out from lush green vegetation here and there, other bits of rock seemingly perched precariously atop another, even the brown rusted rooftop view of the town from the hill top was really something to behold. 
The skyline in the distance had clouds circling without threat and five other hills kissed the cloud’s tips. It was simply breathtaking. I had never seen sights so beautiful before. On seeing the pictures later on, Chioma would comment that this was akin to some footage seen in certain foreign detective/crime series and the likes. I like to think of it as Naija’s own National Geographic.

Then the lake! Viewed from the rock above it, it was shaped like a cone of some sort, bordered by a large tree and some shrubs on the wider outwardly curved side, and a bit of grass on the narrow, pointed end. The old guide told us about the ancient lake that never ran dry, and which though seemed green as we stood looking at it, produced a clear liquid when fetched from. 
He spoke of how the lake which had sustained their fore fathers who lived on the rock’s periphery in the years of war and strife, had also symbolized fertility for centuries and was worshipped by some. Of how women brought her(the lake) offerings and sacrifices when they sought the fruit of the womb, and when their supplications were granted, they would return to her edges to dedicate the child to her.

I watched as the men in the group sought the lake’s source to no avail. It had a few tiny outlets which leaked water in trickles down the rock, but no one could find its source. Yet she stood there; alive, not smelly or stagnant, but continually renewing herself- Nature’s wonder.

Up ahead, the guide showed us the ‘Elephant tree’. Another masterpiece whose trunk, fallen by heavy winds had taken the shape of an elephant’s features; two eyes on either side of the fallen trunk and two features that had the shape of an Elephant’s tusk.

The descent was less tedious of course, the only worry being that my sandals had no grip in them as we descended the steep parts of the rock, aided by gravity. Beyond the slight ache in my thighs at that point, I felt as fit as a fiddle. I only wished I had a bottle of water with me all through the climb.
Would it be pure irony that the other group on this climb was a non-government, not for profit organization called Students for Liberty with headquarters in the United States? I got to find out about them on the downward climb and I was fascinated. 

Discovery, be it of self or of Nationhood, or of purpose is in truth Liberty. What a fitting thought.


  1. Hmmm....more visits to more places like this and a Symphony of nature book may not be far away! I lie?. Nice read IQ.

  2. hmmm i would never have guessed there was anything like this in nigeria. and i so love the last sentence of this post. I can see you are having a good time as well.

  3. Thanks Creative Maestro. drop by some other time