Sunday, January 26, 2014

18 miles

That's how far I bicycled this weekend on what is definitely not the most road friendly, in-shape of bicycles. But hey - I sure got my exercise!

This great bike riding adventure was brought to you by the Nigerian Field Society. They really do deserve a post of their own - but since my weekend is winding down pretty quickly and I'm kind of a lazy bum I'll just settle for a 1 paragraph shout-out: The Nigerian Field Society is a group that organizes all sorts of cool and kind of random trips, talks and tours in Nigeria and the wider region. They do some very awesome stuff. There was a whale watching trip (sadly I missed that one), they climb Mt. Cameroon, they trek in Togo, they bird-watch, and generally come up with way more ideas than I would have time to on my own.

This was the first trip I went on with NFS. We biked the length of the Third Mainland Bridge, which Wikipedia assures me is the longest bridge in Africa at 11.8 km. (We biked a bit on either end as well, not to mention the whole 'return trip' thing.)

I saw the lumber yards featured in the BBC 'Welcome to Lagos' documentary, I saw Makoko - the stilt village, I saw fishermen and sand-dredgers. It was great.

I took a lot of pictures since the bridge is just about as close as we get to seeing what real life in Nigeria is like for most people. It was a good reminder that I really am immensely privileged to .
Makoko from a distance (most of the smoke is from the lumber processing nearby)

Up close

The small closet-sized buildings are outhouses.

These logs are brought down the rivers of Nigeria to be processed here in Lagos. Watch the documentary for the full story, it's fascinating.

Dolphin estates. From an architecture and affordable housing standpoint this place is really interesting. They appear to be a bunch of shipping containers that have been stacked, with windows and stairs and all the rest added later. This complex is huge and jam-packed with people but the living conditions are a lot better than somewhere like Makoko.
Ok, that's it for today.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back in town


It's been almost two weeks since the last time I wrote.

I wish I could say I was off giving Nobel prize acceptance speeches or curing cancer but I was just on vacation and being lazy.

R&R was a much-needed break from my real life (isn't it always) and I feel like I got a lot accomplished too. I saw all the grandparents, mom, dad and the South American. I bought a whole pile of things that'd I've been needing back in Lagos, I may or may not have started the home ownership process (more on that to come), and I ate at McDonald's. You're welcome, American economy.

I've been pretty busy since I got back. Yesterday I grilled for the first time ever. It took 2.5 hours. The lighting of the charcoal part took 2 hours. Once that trainwreck was corrected (thanks neighbors for the help!) the actual cooking went amazingly well. I was so pleased that I decided to add 'learn how to grill food' to my life list so I could check it off.

Today I accomplished what seemed like a lot too - considering I never left the building. I took down my Christmas decorations (I know, I know), answered all my long-neglected emails, made my favorite scones, retrieved my plants from the plantsitter, cleaned the entire apartment, watched two of the three Lord of the Rings movies - and not the short version either! - and probably lots of other things but I think that's enough to impress even the most cynical reader.

The only challenge remaining is to trick my jet-lagged brain into sleeping on a normal schedule tonight. I may have jinxed myself by bragging yesterday that I was already over jetlag, only to find that last night I was up til 2am, at which point I took a sleeping pill and slept in til 10. Not exactly a jet-lag win considering that I was trying to get my body back to the 5:30am wake-up routine.

Oh well, I guess that's what tomorrow is for!

I'll leave you with some photos of my amazing grilling adventure.

See how it was light out when I got the fire started?

This is how dark it was by the time cooking actually happened.
But hey, cheers to the mini Italian grill. It worked perfectly (user error notwithstanding) and I will definitely be doing this again sometime.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Just like Nigeria - only colder.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Here's to 2014

Sometimes Nigeria still surprises me.

Today I was feeling a bit homesick. I think it was the combination of my buddy/neighbor being gone, my upcoming R&R, spending a day home doing chores (yuck!) and just being on my own (and in my own head) too much lately.

But I took a walk this afternoon and it reminded me of all the things I like about living here. The friendliness of random strangers on the street, the smell of cooking fires that reminds me of barbeques back home, the Dr. Seussian African plants for sale on the sidewalk and dozens of glimpses of everyday life happening all around - it all just feels so familiar.

Not so familiar that I want to skip my R&R however.

I plan to spend two weeks eating everything, buying even more everything, and just relaxing with my family and friends. Very, very excited about that.

So on that note, Happy New Year!

In 2014 I'm looking forward to a second year at post and it's promising to be a good one. All my buddies are here and almost all the goodbyes are behind me. I've got some very awesome travel plans in the works. I get to rotate through some of the other parts of the consular section - and become a bit more well-rounded as a consular officer. And after a whole year making friends, figuring out how to survive in Lagos and making this place home I get to spend the next year enjoying all the fruits of that labor! So cheers! Hope your new year is looking bright too.