Fifth reason to bid Lagos high...you won't get bored.
I remember living in Sri Lanka. While I was there (maybe this has changed) there was exactly ONE movie theater in the capital that played American movies. It played exactly ONE movie at a time for 3-4 weeks straight. That movie was always something that had been out for ages in the US and it was often a really terrible children's movie. Here in Lagos, by contrast, my old apartment was a block away from a six screen theater that has all the newest American movies and even plays them in 3D should the occasion arise.
This basically carries over to most of the establishments that expats frequent.
There are very few things that you can't find somewhere, you just have to ask around. Mexican, Thai, Indian, Chinese and a bunch of random stuff (Russian, South African, Syrian, etc) - it's pretty much all here. We also have some big American chains - KFC, Johnny Rockets, Coldstone, and we think we spotted a Panda Express a couple months ago. There's a Dominos that delivers - as does a neat little website/app that will deliver from a bunch of restaurants in town. Sadly no Starbucks yet, but I think it can't be too far away.
When I initially found out that I was coming to Lagos I started putting together a list of things I would do to pass the time and use these two years in Nigeria wisely. It's actually embarrassing now to look at it. I was planning to learn to juggle and sew and read a big chunk of classic literature and just generally embody "Little House on the Prairie". Needless to say, the situation is luckily not that dire. Most weekends are as jam-packed as I can handle and I've noticed that I have more social options here than I seemed to have back home.
So what is there to do?
Well, here's a list to get the newbie expat started:
- Yacht Club! Absolutely love this. I go sailing maybe 2-3 weekends per month but I could go more often if I had time. It's $600 to join and about $100 a month so it's a splurge but certainly worth the price.
- Silverbird. It makes the list mostly because I used to live right next door and it was convenient to get there.
- Palms Mall This is a western-style mall with a big grocery store, lots of shops (clothing, electronics, etc) and a theater.
- Terra Kulture They do cultural performances, art exhibits, and food. It's a good place to get Nigerian dishes actually.
- Bogobiri's One of my favorites. This bar/restaurant/café thing has live music several nights a week and is home to a very chill, artistic crowd. I highly recommend their fish pepper soup.
- Lagos Polo Club Don't know anything about this, but if you're a horse person I *think* you can take riding lessons.
- African Artists Foundation All kinds of art related events - movie showings, talks, they have a gallery, etc.
- Lekki Conservation Center A park that I've mentioned before. They have monkeys. Apparently it's run by a whole conservation foundation but I admit I don't know anything about that.
- Ikoyi Club Again, don't know much. This is a golf club and a lot of expats and Nigerians belong.
- Motor Boat Club You have to have a boat to join, or so I've heard. I think these guys also do some of the deepsea fishing and jetskiing. I've been meaning to make friends with them, for obvious reasons.
- Nigerian Field Society These guys deserve their own shout-out. The field society does all kinds of awesome events around Lagos and is my new best friend. They've done whale watching, mountain climbing, concerts, camping trips, nature walks, you name it. I went on a great bike-ride with them across the Third Mainland Bridge and they have a super popular Makoko canoe trip.
- Nike Gallery (& overall art/culture program) There's an art gallery in Lekki - it's huge. They also apparently have a place you can stay and experience a little authentic Nigerian living. For expats without stringent security restrictions this seems like a cool idea.
- Federal Palace I don't gamble, but if you do these guys have a casino. They also have the only waterslide and mini-golf course that I've seen in town.
- National Museum The museum is actually pretty good. Do NOT let them try to give you a guided tour. The guides are awful and they just read the signs to you anyway.
- The American Women's Club I didn’t join because I've just got too much going on, but I know they do some cultural events and a lot of philanthropy so this would be a great group to join.
Keep in mind, these are just the activities with websites. There's Tarkwa beach and the lighthouse walk, there are lots of private beach houses, live music, semi-formal running clubs, events through the American school, etc.
A big part of the social scene also revolves around the consulate community. There's quiz night, game night, darts and the guys' cigar meet-up, they have yoga, volleyball and boxing and a weekly dog party. The CLO organizes cooking classes, barbeques, market tours and holiday parties. (I'm getting kind of tired just thinking of the social schedule actually.) And of course there is always someone around to go out to dinner or to the movies or clubs if you're interested. In short, I think we have a good mix. The community is small enough that we support each other and hang-out a lot, but it's big enough to give everyone space to carve out their own social scene. After a year I finally have started to run into friends from the yacht club or church or the field society at parties or at the grocery store. It makes Lagos feel a little bit more like home and that's the whole point isn't it?
So that's a basic rundown of the entertainment situation (apologies if I forgot something). Obviously it isn't Disney World, but there's a lot more available here than in my neighborhood back in the Midwest or in many of the places I've lived around the world so I'll enjoy it while it lasts. (And if anyone tells you they are bored in Lagos it's either because they don't have a car or because they aren't trying hard enough. Just saying.)