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Risk Aversion

Kwa falls! Totally awesome. Have you been there before? It’s in Cross River State in Nigeria and you will be super wowed if you visit. I’ve been there once, over fifteen years ago and I still cannot forget that experience – going down the 234 steps to the area where the water is calmer and quiet and then climbing all the way to the main fall with the exposed roots of the tree as my main support. It was so much fun. There was a portion where a rocky formation extended over the water and to get across, you had to move along the rocky edge and risk falling into the water. Believe it or not, even though I wasn’t a good swimmer, I just did it. I thought only briefly about what could go wrong and then proceeded with caution. If the worst case scenario played out, I didn’t feel like there was a lot at stake.

Recently, a colleague spoke of jet skiing to the deep side of the ocean while on vacation in Malaysia. I asked someone if he was married and if he had kids and he answered in the affirmative. I really wondered about this, so I engaged him – what were you thinking… didn’t you worry about sharks, sting rays, drowning… He said he was trying to overcome his fears and just as I expected, he said he wasn’t yet married and had no children at that time. He sounded like he would think twice before trying that now.

You see, when I think back on my time at Kwa Falls, I really wonder. Would I be that adventurous now? I’ve observed that our risk aversion increases with a particular responsibility – parenthood. My mum once told me that my dad used to drive really fast in the early days but as the number of children they had increased, his average speed decreased. As adventurous as I used to be, I find myself doing a lot of risk assessing these days. I think about what could go wrong, what safety gear I have on, the safety barriers in place, the availability and effectiveness of emergency response in that city or town, and so on. Ultimately, I try to ensure that as much as it depends on me, I return home after all the excitement to take care of my kids. I’ll try to stay fit so I can catch up on the craze when they’re all grown and independent but I won’t be surprised to find that my new level of risk aversion has come to stay.

What do you think? Have you identified anything that makes you more risk averse?

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Lekki Conservation Centre

Who said we don’t have nice places to visit in Nigeria? I can’t believe this place was only two minutes away from my previous abode but I never went in. I must have rationalized away the idea back then but I’m glad I finally went in today; many thanks to my darling sister.

It’s not cumbersome at all. In fact, it’s the fastest tour processing I’ve experienced in comparison to attractions outside Nigeria. I guess it’s because we don’t have so many people trooping there each day. We were good to go in less than ten minutes and the tour guide did a good job giving us a little history and explaining some things. My son was particularly happy to hear him mention ‘photosynthesis’ and how humans gain from that process. He’d learned about this in school.

The trees, the monkeys, the ants, the birds, the tortoise, the tree house, and the canopy walk. There’s a lot to see. If you’re interested in the canopy walk, inform the staff during processing. My first canopy walk experience was at Kakum National Park in Ghana and it was fun. There’s something about walking on a flexible bridge that sways as you move. Made with wood, ropes and some metal, you can’t expect otherwise. I will definitely return to do the walk at LCC; today I couldn’t because one little human was depending on me to hold his hand on the trail. I guess these tours will be even more interesting when they're much older.

By the way, did I mention ants? At a point, I was picking them off my husband’s T-shirt; loving wife that I am. I couldn’t stand by and watch him get bitten. You could spray or rub on some insect repellent. I assure you, you’re not too old for this. Even when you avoid the ants on the frame of the trail, a few could drop on you from the canopy. Protect yourself.

Things I won’t forget in a hurry – #1. The freshness of the air. Those trees do an excellent job filtering the air in this park and releasing a very healthy dose of oxygen for our enjoyment. If you need a break from polluted air in your environment, just visit the park. #2. The height of that tree house and how everyone below looked as tiny as ants. Yes, I climbed to the top, and it was fun all the way. Pity I didn’t have a marker to sign my name at the top. #3. The monkeys – especially the one that snatched an apple from my son. Lessons learned – don’t walk through a forest or swamp with food in clear view. You just might be sending out an invitation to the monkey community.

This monkey jumped from tree to tree and landed on the trail, then stretched its arm out to my son as if expecting a handshake. Before we could say ‘Jack’, it jumped across, snatching the apple in the process and went away. My son was frightened but thrilled. He said he was happy he got to touch a monkey. I said ‘more like, you’re happy a monkey waylaid you and snatched your apple’. He didn’t mind. Now he thinks he knows a lot about monkeys and goes on and on about how smart they are.

It’s good to know that as far back as the late 80’s, this eco-friendly idea was nurtured and developed into what we now call the Lekki Conservation Centre. My appreciation goes to the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. I like their vision – “A Nigeria where people prosper while living in harmony with nature”


Picture credit: Lekki Conservation Centre

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