As promised (never mind the tardiness) my trip to Badagry complete with a link to pictures at the bottom…and yes you do have to feel guilty if you just thought about skipping down to the bottom and getting the picture book version.
This study abroad experience (as with most) can be summed up in a series of firsts. First time I had a turkish coffee in Turkey, first time I saw a kangaroo, first time I ate with chopsticks…etc, etc. Mine have been a tad different, first time I ate with my hands, first time I drove into on coming traffic on the highway on purpose, first time I was given as a wife to someone, first second time I was given as a wife to someone, first third time…you get the picture. Our trip to Badagry can also be summed up in a list of firsts. Our first stop on reaching Badagry from Lagos was the site of the first church in Nigeria established in 1842. After that we drove to the site of the first second storey building in Nigeria. Now on to a couple more personal firsts, after our tour of the building our tour guide took us outside and brought us to a well. Then he offered us the bucket to get a drink of water from. This was the first time I had been told that non-bottled/non-water satcheled water was safe to drink. As I do not like to play russian roulette with my intestines, I opted out. However, a few other students took a sip and they’re still standing. After this we went over to the Badagry Heritage Museum. This is a museum that deals completely with the trans-atlantic slave trade. From the museum we looked out on the point of no return, which, as you can guess, is the point at which captured slaves from Nigeria departed their homeland.
After Badagry we stopped at the border with Benin and bought apples, baguettes (first time I ate one of those here), clothes, perfume. You name it, and someone will come running to your car to try to sell it to you at a grossly inflated price (the oyinbo price).
Finally, we made it to the beach. This is what we had all been waiting for. Except the sand was searing hot, we couldn’t sit and relax, and we were told we could not dip our feet into the water because the current was too strong…we weren’t allowed with in five feet of the water in case it snatched us. Yep, this was my last first of my trip to Badagry, the first time I was brought to a beach, forced to stand in hot sand, and stare at the water from five feet away, and then ten minutes later file back into a bus.
Buy one get one free time…the week after we went to Lagos and Badagry we took another trip back to Oshogbo. This time it was just the students, and we went to a festival. A fellow student was invited along with his drum teacher to play drums at this festival put on by Iya Oshunta, the priestess of Oshun. This is the first time I’ve been to a festival for a orisha, and I was a tad underwhelmed. I expected egungun dancers, and the like; but instead I got a bunch of old people sitting around in chairs wearing beads and drinking. However, this night did provide a lot of entertainment in the form of the cluster, no, the mass of young kids who gathered around us. I spent most of my night talking to these kids in Yoruba, and I figured out halfway through that a bunch of them did not speak much English. It was the first night I spent at a festival where I didn’t hear the typical Yoruba spoken all around UI that is mixed with English.
I have saved the best first for last. Upon entering the festival we were taken to a shrine set up to worship Oshun. There we drummed/ took pictures, until the priestess of Oshun showed up to pray and receive our sacrifices (money and Schnapps). We knelt down before the priestess as she prayed over us and tasted our sacrificial Schnapps. As this was the first time any of us had been in this situation, we sat there transfixed as she took another taste of our Schnapps and swished it around in her mouth. Still staring, we were completely unprepared for the first time a priest or priestess of any orisha blessed us by spitting Schnapps on us.
Unfortunately for my German friend, she can now claim that that was the first time a priestess of Oshun spit Schanpps in her eyes.