Sunday, September 28, 2014

Update

Yikes!

It's been two weeks since I last posted - apologies to the few readers who follow the blog often enough to have noticed. Needless to say I've been busy.  The last time you heard from me I had just come back from a very awesome whale watching trip off the coast. Life has been pretty uneventful since then. Work has slowed down a ton. Ironically my section now has twice as many officers! (Easy enough to accomplish in a one-officer section.) It's been very nice to have someone to bounce ideas off and I think we'll be able to really improve some of our services now that it isn't just one officer tied to the desk all day.

Last weekend due to some road closures and detours I had a very unexpected trip to the mainland, which was made extra nerve-wracking because I wasn't supposed to be there and didn't have my phone with me to call for assistance. Total gridlock in one direction prevented me from getting home the way I'd come, and my map doesn't include the mainland, so I was well and truly stuck. After a moment of panic I came to my senses and realized that there was an easy way out. I called out the window to some random guys (there are always random guys hanging around in Nigeria) and asked them to hire me a taxi. I paid him an ungodly amount (for Nigeria of course) to drive very slowly in front of my and lead me back to familiar turf. Looking back it was actually kind of an interesting trip - I certainly saw a lot of places I would never otherwise have seen - but not one I plan to make again, at least not on my own.

This Saturday I went sailing in the Hobie (catamaran) Nationals. It's a bit of an inflated name for the race -considering that we're the only sailing club in the country and so it was basically the exact same group of people we sail against every week - but they made up for the small pool of competitors by putting together a grueling course. There were 4 races, plus a very long trip just to get out to the race area and I can't remember the last time I've been this exhausted. Even the next morning I was still too tired to stand up while brushing my teeth, or get dressed without resting half-way through. About the only thing I do have the energy to do is sit at the computer and type this blog post! (With plenty of breaks of course.) But as I joked with a friend - going sailing is a lot like being pregnant. As long as I know I'll be on the water that weekend I can eat like I'm eating for two!

Coming up next is my very long-anticipated trip back to the states for R&R. I'm loving my time here in Nigeria but that certainly hasn't stopped me from missing home and family and all the rest. And when I get back from R&R I'll have only two months left at post. Time is flying now and I feel like I'm halfway out the door already.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Seasonal displacement disorder

I'm sure this isn't an actual disorder, but it should be, so I'm creating it.

Seasonal displacement disorder (SDD) is not to be confused with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which makes you, as the name implies, sad during the winter. SDD is the condition wherein a person who is used to having seasons moves to the tropics and experiences one long summer that lasts for two years. This disorder may be characterized by decreased tolerance to even the slightest chill, a (probably incorrect) impression that one would actually enjoy being cold, and a general sense that time is standing still.

All joking aside, I am definitely suffering from seasonal displacement disorder. I often 'bundle up' when the sun isn't out now - even with temperatures in the 80s. I get weirdly nostalgic about fall and winter, when I know full well that back home I spend the entire winter complaining about the cold. And of course, I can never tell what time of year it is.

The nice thing is, like astronauts without gravity, people without seasons gain in freedom what they lose in structure. I've found that without actual seasons I tend to make up my own. So, for example, when I bought a nice summery tablecloth I decided to start a prolonged 'me-summer' and cooked lots of fresh salad, washed my car a lot, and had cool drinks on the balcony every other day. Recently decided that it should be winter time. I started wearing my sweaters inside again and cooking pumpkin dishes and chili and borscht. I rotated into the movie queue all the ones that remind me of winter (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Fargo, etc). I turned up the AC and started humming Christmas songs. I baked cookies. Bingo! Instant winter.

The even nicer thing about this is that I don't actually have to live anywhere cold. So if I want to go sailing and then sit outside at a restaurant for lunch and then read by the pool I can always take a holiday from my self-imposed holiday season for a few hours.

I get the feeling this might be hard to get used to actual winter when I get back to the states in December.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Whale watching in Lagos

Yep. You read that right. I just got back from a very unexpected but awesome Lagos opportunity. The Nigerian Field Society (of course!) ran this trip, and as with every trip they run, I can't recommend it highly enough. I freaking love the NFS. It only comes up once or twice a year though, so you have to jump when you see the opportunity.

Anyway, we started out early in the morning from a dock where I just discovered that they have deep sea fishing and 'yacht cruises'. Will definitely check that out before I leave post if there's time. 


We passed downtown Lagos and headed first west along the coast and then south toward the Equator.




For awhile we just enjoyed the ocean and the breeze and each other's company. We scanned the horizon like crazy but by the time we were supposed to head back no one had seen anything. Not a huge disappointment of course, but you know - it was a whale watching trip and I didn't want to come home 'empty handed'.


But just as we started to head back the guide pointed out fins in the water. It was the best!

Obviously, I got exactly zero good pictures. The boat was rocky, the whales move pretty quick, and I was focusing more on spotting them than photographing them. I hope somebody else got some good shots because the only whale picture I managed to get is a bit underwhelming.

It's the tiny black spot in the upper middle/right of the picture.

Still, what a great day!

Even if we hadn't seen a whale it would have been a good time though. There's just something about the ocean that makes everything better.

Also, for those who are curious, I have no idea what kind of whales we saw. A Wikipedia article I found lists a number of whale species that can be found off the Ghanaian coast so I'm assuming it's one of those...maybe pilot whales? Meh. Either way, I definitely need to add this to my life list so I can cross it off.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

Hope everyone else is enjoying the long weekend - I know I did.

This weekend was kind of like the Sound of Music - made that much better by the addition of a few of my favorite things. ;)

Friday we had 'bad movie night' where we watched one of my favorite bad movies - yes, I have a whole collection of particularly bad/good ones. This week the highlighted selection was '2012'. Highly recommended.

Saturday I sailed in an offshore race. As usual (particularly during the offshore races) I got soaked and bruised and exhausted and only slightly lost at sea and it was one of the best days ever. I LOVE offshore sailing. The wind, the sun, the waves...*sigh* it was glorious. ... After that I somehow found the energy to hit up three different grocery stores and catch the tail end of a barbeque.

Sunday I did brunch with a group of friends, then caught a showing of 'Frozen' organized by our friendly Marines. Then the exhaustion from sailing hit me like a sack of bricks and I went to a house party only to leave at 8:13pm because I 'couldn't possibly keep my eyes open a second longer'. Lame.

Today we hit Balogun market for fabric with some great people who are new at post. I'm excited about the incoming set of officers and their families. So far they all seem adventurous, low-maintenance, and - perhaps even more fortunate - highly competent. Lucky us! We also checked out my new favorite Lagos restaurant (Spice) and ate some amazing Indian food. I've spent the rest of my afternoon experimenting in the kitchen. I made a pumpkin spice latte (from actual pumpkins) - which was a bit heavy on the milk and light on the coffee but otherwise delicious - and garlic pumpkin mashed potatoes with spinach - which I'd recommend, particularly if you have a bunch of leftover pumpkin you're trying to use up.

And with that I think it's time to watch some Kill Bill (what, that's not your 'feeling happy' movie?) and enjoy this weekend to the very last drop.

(And congrats B&D!)