Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shopping Day!

Oh I could so get used to living here. I wake up, breakfast is made for me, someone makes my bed, someone makes my lunch, my laundry gets done, including my pajamas ironed(!?) and someone makes me my supper and I don't have to clean up! And no it is not my host Carley, but rather her house steward Tobias, having help here is common. On top of her house steward, she has a driver and is supplied a vehicle and a nanny to help with Ryder. Samuel, her driver, was very surprised when I told him that I don't have a driver back home, that I don't have a cook (well I kinda do over the next 10 weeks but that is another story) and that I walk my own dog. I do have to admit that it is taking a little getting used to and I feel slightly awkward having someone do all of this for me.

This morning Samuel took Carley and I to the Lekki Market so I could continue to fuel the Nigerian economy. After driving down this road, and I use that word loosely we came to this gated compound type of place which once we entered was the market. After seeing all the kitchy stuff, similar to what you see in Mexico, except African (lots of carved wood, paintings, etc.) I had to ask Samuel who shopped here and found out is was people like me - expats! Here I managed to buy a bunch of beads for my aunt (you will love then Auntie Lyn), a couple of leather (crocodile) purses and I found my elusive magnets for the people at work and Samuel made sure they all stuck! Like in Mexico, they start high and you have to barter them down and be prepared to walk away because you know the next guy down is selling the same stuff! I also managed to find a nativity scene - another thing I collect.

Carley and I went to a restaurant for lunch called Cafe Royale (it is on TripAdvisor), whch totally caters to expats who want the comforts of home. I have asked about Nigerian food and I have been assured that it is bad, by a Nigerian I might add, so nachos and chicken strips it is! I have to say, it was very nummy. After lunch we came home, dropped off Carley and picked up Tobias, and me and theboys (Samuel and Tobias) went grocery shopping. Or rather I tagged a long with them as they did the weekly shopping. Once again they humored me as I gawked around the grocery store and took pictures and asked more questions. I so love grocery stores in other countries!

Today and tomorrow are national holidays in Nigeria as it is the end of Ramadan and about 40% of Nigeria is Muslim, 50% is Christian and the other 10% believe is an indigenous type of religion. I guess the government doesn't tell you until about a week in advance if it is going to be a national holiday or not. Go figure. Can you imagine not having Christmas off?!

Hard to believe that I only have a couple of days left here in Nigeria before I head back to the UK for Caz and Andy's wedding. Until then, I will continue to make the most of it and explore what I can, where I can!

Living La Vida Lekki, Lagos

Well i have been a little negligent on my postings but it is because I have been busy :-). For the past 2 days I have been out and about around Lekki and Victoria Island which are all a part of Lagos. I have been fortunate to get out a lot more than I thought I would, and the roads are much better than I expected, so I am seeing a lot. It also helps that there is a car and driver who has been letting me tag along.

Things that I have noticed here or make me go "only in Nigeria":

No one smokes except expats and seeing it is very rare

It is illegal to talk on your cell phone when driving here and it is rare to see someone doing it. Texting while on the back of a motorcycle as a passenger, not so rare!

I think that the only reason cars have signal lights here is because they are imported and come with the car. Pretty sure most people don't even know how tom turn them on! I would say that when it comes to driving, most people stick to their lane, except if you want to pass, you honk to saying I am coming, honk to say move the hell over and honk to say I am more important so move! Nope, no signaling.

Where I am staying is just off the Lekki freeway which also happens to be Nigeria's first toll road complete with toll booths at each end and people that work in the toll booths. Only thing is, they don't collect any tolls, however you still have to stop, wait for the light to turn green and the arm to raise. Why? Not sure. Maybe this is practice for the day when they start paying tolls (which will probably be never!)

Yesterday Carley and I went out with Samuel, her driver to the "mall" - yes there is a mall here and it wasn't too bad. It even has a multiple theatre movie theatre with current movies including the Smurfs. There was even a Nike Store and a KFC in the mall. We popped into the grocery store to pick up some baby cereal and I got a good peak around. I have to say that they had some of the best faced shelves I have ever seen - precision straight.

In the afternoon David had to go to some meetings so I went with him and Samuel and while David was at his meeting, Samuel entertained me. :-). He took me to an artisans shop where there were different vendors. Lucky for me, Samuel did most of my bartering. There I bought a painting. After shopping he drove me around Victoria Island and we went to the beach/malecon and we walked and chatted and Samuel humored me as I asked a lot of questions about living in Nigeria. Some guy there wanted us to pay to walk along the malecon - um, no. But where they can make money, they try!

Once again, saw lots of guys peeing on walls - even guys in suits! I guess public washrooms are pretty much non-existent here!

Until my next post . . . Living la Vidal Lagos!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Sorry - had a glitch and had to repost, this was from yesterday, will get today's up later tonight.

Am I in suburbia - kinda. Or at least that is what life is like here where I am staying. This afternoon, Carley took me for a walk around the 'hood to show me around, and honestly, I could be in any southern suburban neighborhood, with their houses that all look the same, cars in the drive way and their manicured yards. We even stopped by the pool and fitness centre (which were empty). Honestly, if you didn't pay attention on your drive in, you would forget that you are in a third world country.

So my impressions/ thoughts of Nigeria so far:

Firstly, India makes this place look rather clean and rich! I am happy that I have that country under my belt as a comparator to, as everywhere seems nicer after you have been there!

Man you should see the vehicles here! At the airport, you would have thought that you were in Calgary, minus the trucks, with all the shiny new BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus, Ford Fusions, etc. I was very surprised at the vehicles. Now don't get me wrong, there are the requisite beat-up minibuses filled to capacity with people hanging out of the open doors. Then there was also the guy who was standing/ riding on the running board of the petrol truck as it was heading down the expressway, but to his credit, he was wearing his safety vest. Or there are the people that just run across the expressway and dodge cars, or the guy who is selling bottled water and other assorted drinks on the side of the road as cars go by. But probably the thing that said "you are in Nigeria now", were the 2 guys pushing a broken down Toyota, in the dark, on the freeway, with no four way flashers on, in a driving lane. Go figure!

Other things that have made me think "I need to blog about that include":

All the no parking signs along the roads at the airport that are clogged with parked cars.

Then guys who have chairs and small tables set up with huge stacks of bills along side the sidewalk at the airport. Gives a whole new meaning to the words currency exchange. Yah, somehow whipping out a few hundred dollars on the sidewalk to a guy with a bag of bills doesn't seem too wise.

At the airport, if you are a guy and you have to pee, you just find the nearest wall outside and pee on it. I saw so many guys do it including the police. I wonder what they would have thought if I went and squatted?

No McDonalds or Starbucks here but there is KFC. Am I surprised - Starbucks no, McDonalds yes, KFC no.

Immigration at the airport doesn't apply to everyone. If you have someone meeting you, like a local meeting a foreigner, those people seemed to just walk around the immigration desk without being checked. But not me, I got experience the whole Nigerian experience of "efficiency". On my immigration card it asked for my occupation and my employer and me thinking ahead figured that it was much easier to be a homemaker rather than say who I work for- we aren't loved here. :-). So now that is my job. All in all from the time I landed to the time I got to Carly and David's, it was about 2 hours - so not bad at all.

Tomorrow Carley is taking me to the "mall" - am looking forward to this experience and seeing Lagos in the light, as it started to get dark shortly after I left the airport. I will also get the opportunity to experience more "I am in Nigeria" now types of things.

Well, I am off to bed as I would like to be up at a more normal hour tomorrow, compared to my 12:13pm I woke up at today - good houseguest eh?!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

London Calling - actually it is Nigeria

So I have to admit, I am a little behind on my blogging for my latest adventure, so this entry is going to be a bit of a mix of my trip over to the UK and my initial observations of Nigeria.

Now for those who are wondering why the he'll would I want to go to Nigeria, I have this rule about following my friends around the world. If they move there, then I will visit. So here I am now in Lagos, Nigeria visiting my friends Carly & David Morgan. For those of you who follow my blog, if you look back to my blog when I went to Australia in 2008, I have a post about my friend Carly, who I had gone to visit I Perth and her friend David. Well in those 3 years, they fell in love, got married, moved to Nigeria and had a baby boy, and now here i am, visiting them.

So below are a few random thoughts/observations since the start of my trip:

Thank you to the lovely lady at Air Canada made sure that I got to fly at the front of the plane - nightmare averted.

60+ lady with no bra -seriously! They weren't perky either!

Figured out over Algeria that although I had my camera, I forgot my memory card! What a piss off! Fortunately David has loaned me one.

Americans - ugh! World revolves around them everywhere! Yes the eastern seaboard of the US was closed to most flights today because of the hurricanes and no it is not Lufthansa's fault that your flight is canceled. And maybe have a little compassion for those who are experiencing the hurricane rather than bitching about why should you be delayed by this because you don't even live in New York.

Even if you ask the agent 10 different ways to rebook you ticket, he will still tell you that you need to go to the ticket counter, and maybe if you would listen to him, rather than bitch to him, the line would move faster!

Love London! What more is there to say?!

Lufthansas - they want you drink. They offer you wine and cognac non-stop.

BMI lounge in T1 Heathrow- probably one of the nicest I have been to in terms of design. Very modern and chic. Mind you I have heard that Lufthansa has a very nice new lounge in Frankfurt. Maybe if I hadn't had to stand in line for an hour this morning while listened to another American bitch about their flight cancellation, I would have been able to experience it!

Took me over an hour to get to the Borough Market to buy the world's most amazing grilled cheese sandwich only to find out that it closed shop about 2 months ago -ugh!

I have lots to say about Nigeria so far, but is 11pm for me and I have been up since 5:30am, coupled with a 7 hour time difference from the day before, I am a little tired, so I am going to call it a night.

Know that I am safe and sound and will not be blogging from jail. :-)