Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Home leave part 1

Well, that's it - two years in Nigeria in the bag. Now I'm happily settled in at my folks' place as most of my readers already know. I am so grateful that I was able to make it home for the holidays this year. As my bosses have said, the government will never love you back - so a seemingly simple request to be with family over the holidays is definitely not guaranteed to be granted.

Christmas itself was lovely, but I've found home leave to be a little surreal. For the most part, it doesn't feel like I've finished my time in Nigeria. It's hard to imagine that I won't see Lagos again soon (or maybe ever). And it's very sad to think how long it will be until I see most of my Lagos friends next.

On the other hand, it's awesome having a break when there's nothing hanging over your head. I don't have to think about halfway finished projects or stress about upcoming heavy workloads. And I have finally started to get excited about Italy. Not that I wasn't happy with the assignment before, it's just that it didn't feel real. I've told people - only somewhat in jest - that I'll believe they're sending me to Rome when I land in Rome and not before. And given the number of people I've met who've had assignments pulled based on the needs of the service I still feel like that's a wise position to take. But surely it isn't too early to browse recipes for Italian food or look up villages in Tuscany right?

And I do owe the internet at large a couple wrap up posts about Nigeria. No promises on timing though. I intend to enjoy this brief period of joblessness to the fullest.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dear Lagos

I didn't think I'd like it here so much.

I couldn't have known that I would sail away from my troubles every weekend under almost invariably blue skies. I didn't anticipate that I would be able to sip coffee in quiet cafés or nod along to highlife beats with the Nigerian hipster set. I had no idea that I'd make some of my best friends ever inside the four (rather ugly) walls of an African 'visa mill'. Five years ago if you had told me that I would drive like a maniac in a city of 20 million - and enjoy every minute of it - I would have thought you were crazy. I didn't think I'd grow to be so at home here that leaving would make me tear up. And even a year ago I wouldn't have thought that my overwhelming impression from this country would be one of hope. 

But Lagos surprised me.

This city is alive. It's people are welcoming and kind, tough and infinitely resourceful. It is perpetually on the verge - in good ways and bad. Most of all, it is a lot like home, deep down. Lagos is a city of opportunity, where the extremes are extreme and the energy is intense. Lagosians are enthusiastic, assertive, fun-loving, and creative. 

I will miss this place and more importantly, I will miss the people who make it what it is.

So thanks for two great years and a thousand new experiences.

See you later, Lagos!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Last

This is it, I'm so close to my departure I can just about taste the peppermint mocha at Hartsfield-Jackson. I am packing out next week and flying the next. All the complicated tasks related to departure - getting my travel orders approved, setting up housing for my time in training, putting together my EER points - have been taken care of. I compare that part of the process to a child, climbing up to the top of a very big slide. Now is the easy part - I just have to coast to the bottom. Except, of course, for packing out, but that's a stress headache for another day.

In the meantime I am happily doing lots of 'last' things. I did my last race on a lightning (monohull sailboat) - it was thoroughly awesome. I'm planning on a last hobie cat race on my last weekend here. I ate my last suya (will probably break down and eat another last suya later, knowing me). I took one last trip to Balogun market, where I bought two very awesome fabrics which will be gifts if I can stand to part with them. I signed up for my last field society trip - stay tuned! Even better, I've finished my last week of opening officer (where one has to be at work at 6am every day to open the office) and my last week as duty officer (where one answers all the calls that come in after hours).

I've also started the freeing process of divesting myself of all that extra stuff I don't need. First and foremost, I sold my car - well, presold it I guess, I'm not giving it up till I'm on the way to the airport. I'm also getting rid of a lot of little things but there's nothing too inspiring in the pack. It hasn't been a big shopping tour as you probably could've guessed.

For awhile all this moving flurry left me a little bit off-kilter (I went through something similar two years ago before leaving for Nigeria). But thankfully the mopey, don't-want-to-say-goodbye phase seems to be over.  I would call this new phase 'packing and partying' and I like the sound of that a lot.