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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Attempt at Yoruba

Okay, it went something like this. I got into the car yesterday, and I thought I would show Fatai some of the Yoruba phrases I "thought" I had learned.

me: "e ka le, Fatai"

Fatai: "Madame?"

me: "e ke le, Fatai."

Fatai: "Ma'am" ( a little more confused)

me: "e ke le, Fatai "(really loudly this time as if that would help him know what I was saying)

Fatai: a blank look

me: "Oh, alright...I was trying to say something in Yoruba." ( I pulled out my little book with some Yoruba phrases in it) I was trying to say "good evening".

Fatai: "Oh, yes, madame. That is what you said....i just didn't think you would speak Yoruba to me."

We both had to laugh.:) I am trying to learn some phrases in Yoruba (one of the tribes that is prevalent in Lagos). Good evening is pronounced eh-kah-lay and spelled e ke le. I just thought I would share that with all of you. Have a very good evening.:)

A few more pictures from Nigerian Cultural Day

Here are just a few more pictures from Nigerian Cultural day.:) The last picture is a group of dancers from Edo State in Nigeria. Edo State was the highlighted state of Nigeria this year for Nigerian Cultural Day. (Just FYI We live in Lagos State.:)

Nigerian Cultural Day

Today was Nigerian Cultural day at Jeremy's school. Tomorrow, Nigeria will celebrate its independence from Great Britain 49 years ago. October first is declared Nigerian Independence day and the children do not go to school. All the government offices are shut, and most people do not go to work. But for today, we had a lot of fun learning about different things in Nigeria. This morning, we all got dressed in our Nigerian outfits. (Everyone was supposed to come to school in traditional Nigerian dress. I bought material from Dupe..she was in one of my posts a while back. I found a tailor and he made Nigerian clothes for all of us...even Elizabeth). Fatai even measured Guy's head and made him a traditional Yoruba cap to go with his Yoruba outfit.:) Happiness used some of the extra fabric I had from my dress to tie a head tie on my head.:) Since it was so hot today, I had Happiness stay at home with Elizabeth. We are in the dry season now in Nigeria, and it is so hot. Elizabeth would have been miserable. Jeremy and I went downstairs to go to school. Fatai was in the car waiting for us. We walked down the stairs to get in the car and I heard a security guard say," The oyibo is African!!" They were smiling, and Happiness says that Nigerians like it when oyibos wear Nigerian clothes. I hope she was telling me the truth, but I have a really weird feeling they were just laughing at me.:)
When we got to school, it was so neat to see all the children and the parents dressed in Nigerian clothes. Jeremy's day was full of different activities: story telling ( which was terrible), raffia hat making, Nigerian dancing, and a closing ceremony with a fashion show of African dress. The children even got to shop at a small market that was set up on the school grounds. Traditional Nigerian food was provided for the children: chicken and rice with plantains and suya (spicy grilled beef on a stick). I love suya...unfortunately I found out this is the food most Nigerians are cooking when I see the trash cans on fire.:)
The school was decorated in the colors of the Nigerian flag: green and white. Guy was even able to come and see Jeremy at school today.:) It really was amazing to see so many people coming to the school for this cultural event. So many people, so many colorful clothes and so many interesting made me feel happy about being in least for today.:)

Our African Art

Here are some pictures of our first piece of African art we have bought here in Nigeria. We purchased them from Happiness' husband, Nathaniel. He is an artist who works here in Lagos. The painting on the left is called "The Joy of Independence". He told us the inspiration for this painting came when he married Happiness. It is a celebration of being able to have your own rules and not having to listen to the rules your parents have given you any more. In this painting, the woman in the white skirt is the focal point. She is the bride. The rest of the villagers are celebrating because she has passed a test. In some very rural tribes in Nigeria, the chief will hang a live chicken around the neck of the woman who will be married. If the chicken lives, then it is a reaffirmation that she is a virgin and can get married. However, if the chicken dies, she is not a virgin ,and she is cast out of the village never to be married. Happiness assured me she didn't have to go through the "chicken test" when she was getting married.:)
The painting on the right is called "My Dream". This painting is supposed to represent the dream Nathaniel had of finding a woman who could stand in his place when he is not there. I am not too sure if I can see that in this painting or not, but Guy and I really liked it and it looks great in our hallway.:)

Nightmare in Dream Plaza

On Monday night, Happiness made her really good lasagna. As Guy, the kids, and I were eating, suddenly, Guy stopped chewing and preceeded to remove something from his mouth. When he looked at it, he discovered it was a broken nail. I have to say that was the last thing I thought I would ever see in lasagna. Apparently, when the person at the gorcery store ground the meat, a nail fell into the meat or the machine was breaking and a nail fell in???? Who knows??!!!! I told Happiness about it in the morning, and she was very mad at Dream Plaza ( the place she had purchased the meat). We had brought meat with us from the U.S., but we were told the ground beef was safe to buy here. So, those of you who are a little worried about us eating the meat over here, don't worry too much. Happiness is going to go after them. I wouldn't want to get in her way. She had me put the little nail in an envelope and she is going to take it to the store and tell them what happened.:) ( When Nigerians get angry, they are VERY loud and VERY expressive.) Dream Plaza sounds like such a nice and relaxing won't be such a happy place when Happiness is done them...they will feel like they have been in a nightmare!! ha ha!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jeremy's First Soccer Game

On Saturday, Jeremy had his first soccer game. We woke up and started getting ready. Thank goodness that this Saturday was Sanitation day. ( This is a day when the people in Lagos have to clean up the areas around their homes. if anyone besides police and doctors are found on the street, they will be arrested and taken to jail. Funny thing is, I didn't even notice a difference.) So, instead of his game starting at 8 a.m. (yikes!!!) it started at 11 a.m. I got Jeremy's shin guards and soccer cleats out. Immediately, Elizabeth wanted to put on the shin guards. She looked so funny running around the flat in shin guards and her sundress. Jeremy liked wearing his cleats because they made a tapping sound on the floor. When we had to leave, Elizabeth was not happy about taking the shin guards off.:) When we got to the field, Jeremy received his uniform, and Guy helped him put it on. Jeremy ran off onto the field ( he is the smallest one on his team) and started practicing kicking the ball into the goal with his friend, Jake. Guy and I were watching Jeremy and his teammates practicing when I noticed a small little girl in a pink sundress running out onto the field to kick the ball. It was Elizabeth!! I had to run out and grab her...she thinks she is one of the big kids.:)
When the game started, it was like watching a herd of tiny horses run on the field. They all just chase the ball around the field. Jeremy was hilarious, he kept picking up grass and looking at it in his hands and trying to show it to Jake who was trying to follow the ball. Jeremy paid no attention to the ball at all for a long time. Then, a light bulb went off, and he started to run in the crowd with the rest of the kids on his team. We were so happy to see him running around with the kids on the field. Then, all at once, Jeremy was crying. One of the children on his team had accidentally run right into his face. Needless to say, Jeremy was crying and didn't want to go back and play again. So, after half time, he sat out and and kicked the ball back and forth with Guy. Elizabeth, on the other hand, kept trying to run back out onto the field to take her brother's place. At the end of the game, Jake came over to Jeremy and told him that he had gotten hurt also, but he had stayed in the game. When I asked Jeremy if he would play again next week, he said," Yeah, I'll play soccer with my friend, Jake." So, will it be the makings of a future soccer star??? Who knows. But, for right now, we'll work on no crying during soccer.:)

The Nigerian Door Lock

A few weeks ago, I was riding in the car with Fatai. We were in a traffic jam (of course) and we were behind the truck you see in the picture. I think I was sitting there for about 4 or 5 minutes before I realized that I saw two hands holding the back doors closed. Why fix the doors when you can have someone stand in the back of truck and hold the doors shut??? Crazy!!Just one more thing you will only see in Nigeria!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Anne Frank House

On Wednesday, the day before we flew back to Lagos, we went to he Anne Frank house. Amsterdam is the place she went into hiding during WWII. Her story really is amazing. She and her family hid in the back of her father's business building with four other Jewish people. Her father decided to go into hiding because her older sister received a notice in the mail to report for a special work project. Her father knew that was probably a death sentence, so he took the family into hiding. I knew the family went into hiding, but I had no idea how many other people risked their lives to help them, also. I couldn't believe that was walking through the rooms that eight people spent two entire years of their lives in without ever going outside for fear of being discovered by the Nazis and arrested. In the end, they were discovered and taken off to concentration camps. Only Anne's father survived, and had her diary published. I could not imagine how he must have felt. It really made me think about my own life and how blessed I am to have my family with me and not have to fear going outside like the Frank family must have felt. I realized that Nigeria is not so bad...and maybe one day I will think of it as home.

The Nigerian Mentality

When we went to the grocery store to buy meats and cheese to take back with us in our coolers to Lagos, I probably looked like a kid in a candy store. I was in a clean store that was fully stocked with items. There was not a chance of running out of things that we needed. It was so nice to look at things, even though everything was in dutch and recognize some brands I knew.:) laundry detergent was on our list of things to buy, so I went over right after we walked into the grocery store and picked up two large boxes. I was walking around the grocery store with Guy and the kids and my arms were starting to get tired of holding both the boxes. I told Guy how heavy they were and he just looked at me. Then, I realized it...I really had it...the Nigerian mentality. It has rubbed off on me. It is the mentality that if you don't take it, then, someone else will. But, I wasn't in Nigeria.:) So, I went back and put the boxes of detergent back on the shelf...and a miracle happened. When I went back before we checked out, they were still there!!!:)

Playing at the Park

Amsterdam is such a great city for small children. there are so many parks and areas for the kids to play. there is even a indoor playground at the airport for the children.:) We probably visited at least four different parks while we were there. The kids loved them, and so did we.:)

Some Funny shops

As we were shopping on Tuesday, we ran across a few shops with some funny names on them. I just had to take a few pictures to share.:)

Finding McDonalds

On Tuesday, we needed to do some more shopping to get some more things which were on our list to bring back to Lagos. We rode the tram that day to get tot he shops in Amsterdam. We passed by a sign that had McDonalds chicken nuggets on it, Jeremy said, "Yum!!! Chicken nuggets!!!" Guy looked at me and said," We better find a McDonald's because it will be a long time until he gets McDonald's again." So, as we were walking around the different shops, we found McDonald's. Jeremy was so happy. He ate an entire happy meal and Elizabeth ate an entire filet of fish sandwich. I guess they were really missing their McDonald's.:)


On Monday, we took a train to a small town nearby Amsterdam called Haarlem. (Harlem New York got its name from Haarlem, Holland when New York was known as New Amsterdam...just a little trivia for you).:) Jeremy loves trains and he was very happy that he got to ride one. It was about a twenty minute train ride from Amsterdam to the cozy little town of Haarlem. Most shops are closed on Mondays in Haarlem, but there is a huge clothing market that is open on the main square. ( yeah...again!!) Also, there is a very pretty church to see there also. We got to Haarlem at about 11:30 a.m. and had lunch at a really nice restaurant just outside of the main square. Then, it was time to check out the clothing market. It was so fun and there were so many things people were selling from dresses to could definitely find it there.:)

House Boats and the Museum of Bags and Purses

On the canal tour, we also saw several boats that had been converted into houses. One was even made of bricks. I also saw a Museum of Bags and Purses. Too bad, Guy didn't let me go in! hahaha:)

The Canal Tour

On Sunday night, we went on a city canal tour. The kids were really excited to ride on a boat, and Guy and I were excited because the boat was completely enclosed. So, there was no where for Elizabeth to run away from us!:) I had never been to Amsterdam before and I had no idea how beautiful much of the architecture was. I took so many pictures of all the beautiful buildings I saw.

The NEMO museum

On Sunday, we rode our bikes to the NEMO museum. It was really nice to see all the beautiful canals and bridges on the way to the museum. We even saw a windmill. It was such a freeing feeling to ride our bikes around the city and not be afraid of someone trying to harm us. The NEMO was a really interesting place. It is basically like a kids' science museum where everything is hands on. It had exhibits about where rain comes from all the way to an exhibit for teens about kissing, etc.( I am so not ready for that yet!!!) Anyway, the kids had a lot of fun and so did we.:) Maybe next time we go back to Amsterdam we'll go to see the Van Gogh museum!

Saturday...Bikes and Shopping! Oh My!!

On Saturday, we decided to go and rent bicycles. Everyone and their dog rides a bicycle in Amsterdam. It is crazy. There are probably more bikes in Amsterdam than there are okadas in Lagos. it is amazing! You really have to be careful because you may get run over by someone on a bike if you are not paying attention to where you are going. Guy and I decided not to bring the stroller this time because it takes about two hours for it to show up again at the baggage claim in Lagos. So, we were desperate for a way to transport the kids and not break our backs. We rented two bikes. one of them was a regular bicycle. But, the other one was only one I have seen in Amsterdam. Instead of using bike trailers for kids in Holland, people have what looks like a giant wooden wheelbarrow that is attached to the front of a bike. The children can be strapped into it , and away you go! Jeremy and Elizabeth loved it!! it was a little hard for Guy to balance it at first, but one he got the hang of it it was pretty easy for him. We rode our bikes to an area that had tons of shops (yeah!!!!) After we figured out how to lock up the bikes, we went into the stores. I think my eyes were probably popping out of my head. There were so many things to choose from! I pulled out my list of things I needed and could not get in Lagos, and I was off! It was such a great feeling to be back in a store that had exactly the things we needed.:)

Ice Cream!

On Friday night, we went out to eat at a local Italian restaurant. We were able to walk there(without security).:) Jeremy and I were particularly excited because we got to have ice cream. We haven't had ice cream since we left Houston. You can buy Blue Bell over in Lagos, but it is usually melted and then refozen, and it sells for the equivalent of 20 U.S. dollars for a half gallon. So, needless to say, we were quite excited to have really good ice cream!!!

View from the Flat in Amsterdam

Here are a few pictures of the view from the flat we stayed in in Amsterdam. It was right on one of the canals. I didn't know that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice, Italy.:)


We arrived in Amsterdam on Friday at about 5:30 a.m. The flight was ok. Elizabeth was up a few times, and Jeremy slept through most of it.:) When we got off the plane, it was so nice not to smell all the B.O. you smell when you get off the plane in Lagos. I already felt like I was back in my old "normal" life.:) We got all of our bags and then, we ate breakfast at Burger King. It's funny, I never really ever ate there when I was in the U.S. but somehow, it was just nice to see it again. It made me feel like I was back home. We all ate breakfast and then, went to get in our taxi. When we walked outside the airport, it was so nice. There was no one cooking something in a garbage can and there weren't herds of people blocking traffic. We arrived at the bed and breakfast we were going to stay at. It was really pretty ( I am posting some pictures of the flat we stayed in),but we were too early to check in. So, we dropped off our bags and we actually walked to a park that was nearby. Guy and I had some coffee and muffins and we got to watch the kids play in an open area and have a great time with lots of other local children. It was wonderful!