Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to work

Well, all good things come to an end sometime, even my much-anticipated R&R.

After the initial flight hiccup I ended up with a first-class seat on the way home. I've always wanted to have a first class ticket on an overnight flight. Since this was likely going to be my only chance I psyched myself and wasn't able to sleep a wink. Mostly I stayed up thinking 'Wow, first class! This is so fancy!' I arrived home exhausted after 1 full day of travel, 2 cover-to-cover airline magazines, 3 flights, 4 in-flight movies and more hours than I care to think about waiting in line with my obnoxiously non-rolling carry-on bag. (That's the last time I make that mistake...)

Back in the States I accomplished almost everything on the list I've been working on pretty much since I landed in January. I bought clothes and sailing gear. I got my eyes tested (both nearsighted and farsighted! I didn't see that one coming). I slept in, I ate a bagel (one of the very few not readily available items in Nigeria), I walked my beloved dog.

Definitely the biggest event while I was back (in fact it was the reason I planned my R&R when I did) was my grandparents' 60th anniversary reunion. They did an amazing job planning and managed to invite basically everyone we've ever been related to, ever. Only a few family members didn't make it and most of them had pretty good excuses (those who didn't - You know who you are and you're in big trouble.) It was really the chance of lifetime for somebody who doesn't live near family to actually see people. I've been out of state since I graduated from high school and I had no idea how much I've missed. There were babies everywhere! And kids that were babies the last time I saw them were taller than me! I guess it's my turn to feel old. Who knows when we'll all get together again, but I'll be looking forward to it.

After all the good times with family I finished off my trip with a week-long training class back in the DC area. For those in the know the class was "Crash-Bang" and it was everything I hoped it would be. It was equal parts exciting, empowering and sobering and I learned a ton - hopefully skills I'll never need but would be grateful to have if trouble strikes.

I rounded off the trip with whirlwind 24 hours in DC. I walked the key bridge and had a mega-nostalgia moment remembering all the moments, big and small, I've had nearby. In many ways DC is becoming almost as much a home to me as the Midwest - kind of scary thought! I managed to squeeze in a barbecue and met up with several good friends. Sadly I couldn't see everyone but maybe next time.

Naturally since I just got back to post I'm planning my next trip out of the country. Stay tuned, it's coming sooner than you'd think! (And much sooner than I realized...)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Two words

Bed bugs.


I was so hoping I would get to show up to training looking like a meth addict. Now that dream has come true. Next time I should warn the little buggers that my face is off limits.

Other than that the cabin and the lake were pretty good to us and I had a great time with family. I'll have to write a follow-up later.

Thanks family for the fun and all the love of course!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Foiled again!

Despite arriving at the airport 2 1/4 hours before the flight was scheduled, there were no seats when I arrived. In the States when a flight is overbooked they ask for volunteers and offer them stuff in exchange for agreeing to take another flight. Here you just show up, e-ticket in hand, and are turned away at the door. I'm so disappointed but I can't say that it's a total surprise. As we say on the line whenever something goes wrong (basically every day) 'Lagos happened'.

So 5 hours after leaving home for the airport I trudged back in the door to my mostly empty refrigerator and flooded closet (that's a story for another day). I am first on the standby list for tonight's flight, because of course this is Lagos and the outgoing flights are few and far between. Cross your fingers for me that I'll actually get out of the country this time - even if I have to dress up as a flight attendant and hand out pretzels. I want a seat on that flight!

On the bright side, today is a local holiday (Eid al-Fitr), so I don't have to go to work. I can spend the day pretending I'm already on vacation. And stopping to smell the roses.
Or whatever that is. I'm not very good with flower identification...

Sunday, August 4, 2013


In a few days I'm heading home for my first R&R and I have to say, I am ready. When I first arrived at post I thought three R&Rs was a little extreme, but now I get it. After 7 months at post I have left the 'safety zone' a grand total of once (not counting the trips to and from the airport). It's not that there isn't a lot to do within our little corner of Lagos, it's just that it is a pretty little corner. I keep getting hints of the amazing country that's out there and it kills me to know I'm just scratching the surface.

Did you know that somewhere in the country there's a huge festival where hundreds of men jump into the river in a competition to catch the largest fish?
Picture from here.

Did you know there's a sacred forest in Oshogbo?
From here.

Did you know in Obudu there are cable cars up the mountain, and canopy walks, and a water park?
From here.
There are a thousand interesting things to see out there and at times I feel a little bit like the princess stuck in a tower. Yes, it's a nice tower, very comfortable and safe - but also a bit constricting.
I'm so close and yet so far away...
All this just to say, yes, I do feel that I need an R&R trip. I plan to spend my time doing all the things I don't/can't do here. I'll take public transportation and taxis, I'll use my Visa card. I'll drive wherever I want, whenever I want. I will walk on the street after dark, by myself and I won't ask anyone's permission. In short, it will be like that scene in Free Willy where the whale jumps over the seawall and the boy and swims off into the sunset.
Except of course in two weeks I'll be swimming back. But this time full of memories and home cooking and ready for more adventure.
Stay tuned for tales of the exotic Midwest.