Today was sanitation day in Lagos. It is hard to even think of Lagos having a sanitation day when all you see along the sides of the roads is garbage as far as the eye can see. But, once a month, a Saturday is declared Sanitation day. Believe it or not, there are absolutely no cars out on the streets between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. The only vehicles that are allowed on the roads are police and emergency vehicles. I could not believe how quiet it was outside. I took a picture from the balcony out our front door to show that there were absolutely no cars on the street next to our compound. If anyone is found out on the roads (not cleaning) walking or in a car, he will be arrested and taken to a Nigerian jail. (I have heard people would rather be dropped and left at the bottom of a well rather than going to a Nigerian jail.) I am not sure how much actual cleaning is happening on these days, ( people are supposed to use this time to clean up around their living areas.) but, there is a very good thing that comes from it. Instead of Jeremy's soccer games starting at 8 a.m. (yikes) they started today at 11 a.m. Although, along with the good comes the bad....it is very hot by then. But, you just can't beat the value of a little more time to sleep.:)
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I haven't been on my blog much this week because I have been substitute teaching in Jeremy's classroom while his teacher has been at a teacher conference. It has been really fun being back in the classroom again, but I am very out of teacher shape!!! I have been absolutely exhausted every day after school. Today was my last day to substitute, and it was so fun to come home and see four large boxes waiting for us at home. Jeremy saw them when he came home from school and said, "Yay!!! Our shipment came!!!!" ( I wonder if he has been here too long already?) It was really fun to open up the boxes of Halloween candy, small toys, and even Goldfish and granola bars made my stomach do a happy flip. The kids' personal favorite was when they saw some Cheez -It crackers. We haven't had those since we were in Houston. You would have thought they were opening up all the toys in the world from the screeches of happiness coming from their mouths. Thank you to all of you for thinking of us over here. When we receive those packages, it makes us feel like we have a little piece of home. We think of you all often, and we miss you all very much!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Here is a picture of something I see all the time on the streets of Lagos: a man pushing a cart with containers full of water. This task is his job in life. Many people like this man have to get water for family and friends who do not have running water. It really makes me think about how blessed I am that I have always had the luxury of having running water.
This is a sign I saw the other day while I was riding in the car. I guess this is another city wide campaign to try to get the crazy drivers in Nigeria to drive at least a little less crazy...or at the very least to stay alive.:)
I tried to get a picture of a man in traditional Yoruba dress. The picture isn't that great since I took it from the car, but it gives you an idea of what the outfit looks like. The picture I took of Fatai a few months go also is tradtional Yoruba dress.:)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Today, Fatai was driving me home. We were going along at a pretty good clip (which doesn't usually happen here). There were no pot holes on the road ( a minor miracle) , and there were no other cars in front of us to keep us from going. We finally stopped behind a car in front of us. We sat there for a few seconds. I kept thinking Fatai would honk his horn...but he didn't. In my head I was thinking, "He uses his horn for every other thing when we are driving...why won't he use it when there is someone stopped in the middle of the road and not moving?" I looked around and saw no other cars coming. I was getting a little more impatient. I finally asked Fatai why the car was sitting in the middle of the road. He said, "Madame, the stop light is red. We cannot go." Sure enough, hidden behind a tall palm bush, there was a stop light on a small post. I couldn't believe it, Nigerians had stopped for a red light. I couldn't believe that I had not seen the red light. It is scary that i was thinking like a Nigerian. I just wanted Fatai to honk his horn. I am a little scared of how I will be driving when I go home.:) ha ha
Sunday, October 18, 2009
When we walked out of church this morning, I noticed these words painted on the wall surrounding the church compound. I could not believe that I had not noticed them before. I can't wait until Jeremy starts sounding out words and asks me what it means. I can just hear the questions now. "Mommy, why don't some people use the toilet?" "Mommy, why do people pee in the garbage?" ha ha What do you think? Do you think people in Lagos will stop peeing on the side of the road? It was about one minute and forty seconds into our ride home from church when I saw a man drop his pants and pee on the side of the road. I am not a statistician, but so far, my research doesn't look promising.:)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Now, those are three words you wouldn't expect to see together everyday...especially in Nigeria. But, The Lady Mechanic Initiative is a business that is totally run by...you guessed it...women.:) I pass by it everyday when Fatai is driving Jeremy and myself to school. I asked Fatai about it. He told me that a woman mechanic runs the shop, and she trains different women under her as her apprentices. I was pretty impressed. I don't really hear too many stories about Nigerians making the first step to better themselves on their own. And some people say no one takes an initiative in Nigeria.:)
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Since we have been here, we have been attending church at Holy Child church on Sunday mornings. Of course, we didn't go for the month of August because Father Jerry was in the U.S. visiting his family and there was not another priest to fill in for him. It almost felt a little bad not going to church during that time...but, there wasn't a priest to have mass. So, we have started up again in the beginning of September, and we are able to go weekly now. Father Jerry is a Jesuit priest who has lived in Lagos for over 40 years. He even has his Nigerian Citizenship. he was born and raised in upstate New York, but has served most of his time in the priesthood in Nigeria. he is a really great priest who is able to explain the readings each week with so much enthusiasm. You can really tell he has a God given talent to reach out to people and help them understand God's teachings. Thank goodness for his talent to keep us all interested in the readings because if it wasn't for him, I am sure that many people may not attend mass each week. Like most local places in Lagos, the church is not air conditioned and we have just entered into the dry season here. It will start to get scorching hot and there will be no rain until around March or April. Last year, several of the ex pats who attend Holy Child contributed money to have air conditioners( you can see them on either side of the altar in the picture taken inside the church. They are tall and white) installed in the church so it wouldn't be so, pardon me, "Un Godly" hot in there. So, the air conditioners are in the church, and they look really great. They are all shiny and new and ready to go. But, like so many things in Nigeria, just when you think the job is done, you realize that it isn't. The air conditioners don't work because the generator at the church is broken. So, as I sat in church today fanning myself with the missal, and watching the sweat beads come down the back of Elizabeth and Jeremy's necks, I couldn't help but see the irony of the whole situation...brand new air conditioners sitting right up in the front of the church, but could not be used. Like so many things in Nigeria, good intentioned people try to help out....but there is so much more work to be done here.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
When I was driving with Fatai yesterday, I was watching the always entertaining world of Lagos pass by the car windows. I started to look at the different people walking along the streets. I wondered if Fatai could tell what tribe people were from just by looking at their faces. He has taught me about the traditional dress of the three major tribes in Lagos : Yoruba, Hausa, and Ibo. The Yoruba dress is a long shirt ( about to the knees), matching pants, and a cap that kind of flops to one side of the head. The Hausa tribe wears a very long shirt( all the way to the ground) and matching pants underneath with a squared off cap ( looks like a pill box cap). The Ibo tribe wears a shirt with a belt made of fabric around the waist and pants. The hat for Ibo is squared off, but for lack of better words, has a bumble on the top right in the middle. But, I wondered if Fatai could tell what tribe people were from when they were not in their traditional tribal dress. So, of course, I asked him. He told me that he can always tell what tribe someone is from. Up until a few years ago, the Yoruba and Hausa tribes would mark the faces of the people who were in their tribe. By marking, I mean cutting the faces of the people in their tribe, and leaving scars to show what tribe the person was from. Hausas and Yoruba had different types of markings to distinguish them from each other. Some Yoruba have three horizontal marks on the sides of their faces. Hausas have something different, but I am not sure what it is. ( I will find out and tell you later.) Happiness and Fatai both told me that making the marks on tribe members is not widely practiced anymore. Fatai said that he can look at a person's face and features and he can tell what tribe the person is from. I know it shows my ignorance to the many different people here, because I can not tell tribal differences between people...at least not yet.:) So, after talking to Fatai about the different tribes, he taught me a new Yoruba phrase. Here it is: e ka san (eh-kah-san) which means good afternoon. E ka san to you all!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
This morning, when I was coming back from taking Jeremy to school, I saw another example of how crazy the okada drivers really are. Fatai and I were very close to our compound. We had just turned on the street right next to the compound, when Fatai had to slam on the brakes very hard. Right in front of us was a bus that was turning the wrong way down the street. An okada was right next to it, but did not want to wait. The bus didn't have enough room to clear the curb and the okada driver thought he could beat the bus. Well, he sure didn't beat the bus. In fact, his okada got stuck under the bus. The okada driver was okay and got up and started yelling loudly at the bus driver. Then, other people on the bus opened their windows and started yelling at the okada driver. More okada drivers came over and yelled at the bus driver. It was a crazy situation. Nigerian men , and some women, have very hot tempers and situations can escalate out of control very quickly. Fatai and I could not go anywhere because there were cars behind us. Thankfully, the fight broke up when the bus driver screamed very loudly at the okada driver and revved his engine and drove off almost hitting the okada driver. Both the bus driver and the okada driver were wrong...but no one will admit it. Fatai told me that the best place to stay in a situation like that is in the car. Do not try to get out and leave, because people can get violent very quickly. ( Last year a truck driver hit an okada in an accident and killed the driver. Other okada drivers saw it happen and swarmed the truck. They pulled him out and beat him to death right on the street.) You never know what will happen. It seems that volatile situations can always spring up in this country. In Nigeria, you don't have to be right, you just have to scream the loudest and carry the biggest stick to survive.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Elizabeth has been wanting to wear Jeremy's soccer cleats. Yesterday, she decided that she wanted to wear them in nothing else but a diaper. I guess it is a little reminiscent of Mia Hamm. Didn't she tear off her shirt after a soccer game a few years ago??? Ha ha
Monday, October 5, 2009
This weekend, I ventured to a place I rarely go...the kitchen.:) For those of you who know me...you know that I make every effort to stay out of that room of the house. But, I thought I would give it a try. We inherited an ice cream maker from another family who didn't want it anymore, and I thought Jeremy and I could make some ice cream together. I put all of the ingredients together and put them in the ice cream maker and it was working really well. Jeremy was really excited since we don't get ice cream over here (unless you want to pay 20 dollars for a half gallon of Blue Bell that has been thawed and refrozen). All of the sudden the machine turned off. Jeremy was really disappointed. So, I remembered what I did when I taught Kindergarten. I poured some salt and ice into a Ziploc and then, put the ice cream mixture into another Ziploc and sealed it. I started shaking it, and I couldn't believe that it worked to make the ice cream. About the time I realized this as working , the ice cream maker turned back on. So, I dumped the mixture back into the machine and the ice cream was done. Jeremy was so happy to have chocolate chip ice cream...it was so worth the effort.:) Then, that night, I wanted to make brownies to take to the beach. Our oven is not an automatic oven. You have to turn the knob and hold it in to release the gas and then light the pilot on the bottom with a really long match. After four attempts, I was finally able to light it. Then, you have to monitor the temperature in the oven because there isn't a knob to set it. There is a thermometer in the oven on the rack that tells you how hot it is...so you control the pilot light with a knob. I was very proud of myself that my brownies turned out edible! I just won't tell Happiness I can work the oven.:) ha ha
Yesterday, we all went to the beach with some people who live on our compound. It is nice to get away from all the horns and loudness of Lagos. But, like everything in life, there is give and take. The beach is a beach...but it is not the cleanest beach. But, Jeremy and Elizabeth don't mind a bit. They love digging in the sand and looking for sea shells. I love hearing the waves and talking with friends, and Guy loves being out on the beach with the kids. Jeremy and Elizabeth were filthy dirty...their feet were black as well as their faces...and they wouldn't have it any other way.:) Elizabeth even went over ( by herself) to "talk " to the children who live in the beach village. It was so funny to watch her walk over to the bigger kids and sit down and talk to them. I think they thought she was speaking another language, but they loved to listen to her. There was so much food and even a cricket game. It was a really nice way to spend a Sunday. Oh, and I can't forget the Rolex that Guy bought from a beach vendor....6000 naira can buy a really nice Rolex! ha ha!!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Jeremy and Elizabeth are able to have a good time together......for about 5 minutes a day.:) Then, the screaming of ,"She pinched me!!!!" or hearing Elizabeth scream because Jeremy took something from her can be head throughout the compound. Luckily, I had my camera ready for a few times over the last few days they have gotten along.:) I love the one of the two of them hiding in the laundry hamper...they really thought no one could see them. We are also trying to get into the spirit of fall...even though the temperature is going to start to get really hot very soon. Jeremy wanted to put some jack o lanterns up on the window.:) I enjoy the few seconds of traquility between them! haha!!
Today was Jeremy's second soccer game of the season. He did really well...he played the whole game. I guess by playing, I mean he was out on the field.:) He really likes his pal, Jake, on his team. They are also in the same Pre-K class together. They enjoyed picking grass and occasionally looking to see where the ball was going.:) At least they are having fun, right??!!
I few weeks back, I wrote a post about the Balogun Market. It is right over the third mainland bridge to Lagos. What a place it is!!! Yesterday, I went with a few ladies from my compound, and a security guard who was armed with a gun. But, this time, at least, it wasn't a machine gun...it was a pistol which was tucked into the front of his pants.(weird that made me feel better as opposed to a machine gun). Anyway, one of the ladies' stewardess went with us to navigate through all the small passageways there. This time, we went to the regular fabric market and the dish market. There was so much pretty linen there..and the price was pretty good. They wanted about 1000 naira( about 7 dollars) per yard, and I ended up paying 800 naira per yard. So, not too bad. I am getting much more comfortable with the haggling, (although, Hannah, the stewardess helped me with it). I felt good that at last I didn't pay the asking price for it. Happiness told me that you could find anything there, but this time I really saw everything. We saw dishes, blow dryers, party supplies, pots and pans, etc. It just depends how dirty you want to get and how hard you want to look for it.:) (Albeit, not all of it is really good quality) I do have to mention some of the crazy things I saw when I went to the market yesterday:
1) a man pushing a cart by hand full of wood the wrong way down an on ramp onto the bridge. Traffic was backed up for about a mile because of it.
2) A boy peed in a bowl, and his mother went and dumped it in the "sewer" in the market right next to where I was standing. (By sewer, I mean a small trench in the street)
3) A little boy squatting outside a vendor's stall pooping into a plastic bag under him.
4) a Little boy, about 2 years old, wandering aimlessly in a crowded street with just a shirt on...no diaper and no pants
5) And this is the weirdest one by far. The two ladies I was with and I were walking down one of the crowded streets at the market. It was one of the ladies in front of me, then me, then the other lady behind me. A Nigerian lady was passing us coming from the other direction, and she reached out and systematically grabbed all of our breasts and just kept on walking like it was nothing. It happened so fast ;none of us had time to react. Very strange!!!!
I hope the pictures I am putting up of Balogun kind of give you an idea of what this place is like. I took pictures this time while I was standing next to security. So, just remember, when you think you have seen it all....think of Nigeria.:)