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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Too Comfortable?

I think the kids and I may have almost reached the point of getting too comfortable living in Lagos. This thought crossed my mind when I was at the playground with the kids yesterday, and I have been thinking about it ever since. A list started forming in my head of things which made me nervous or even scared me when I first arrived, but now, are not too big of a deal anymore. So, here it is:

The Top 10 signs you may be getting too comfortable living in Lagos:

10) The power in my flat goes out and I reach for my cell phone (without even thinking) to light up my closet so I can find something to wear.

9) I am the bus mom this week, and on the bus today there were two kids speaking a Malaysian dialect, two kids speaking Spanish, and one speaking Hungarian on her cell phone. I was talking to a few of the other kids on the bus, and didn't even realize all the languages which were being spoken at the same time until I thought about it later. That would have been one of the first things I was fascinated with 18 months ago.

8) I really don't pay attention anymore to the expiration date on food I brought in the shipment. The rule here is ," If it doesn't smell funny, it's ok!"

7) A few months ago, I was at Elizabeth's playgroup. There is always coffee and juice served for all the moms. I poured my coffee and opened the sugar bowl to put a sugar cube in my cup, and there were ants all over the sugar. I have to admit, I flicked them off and put the sugar cube in my coffee. That would have definitely freaked me out when I was first here. It is a pretty common occurence here.

6) There are 10 foot walls and security guards wherever you go here (other children's homes for play dates,restaurants, etc.). They always made me nervous when I first arrived, but now, I just get irritated when the guards don't let me in right away.

5)One morning we were on the way to Jeremy's school, and I hear him blurt out " MOM that okada driver isn't wearing a helmet!!!" Before I could even say anything back to him, he said" Oh, he's okay. See ..he stopped for the red light at least." Do you think he has seen too many people here not follow the rules of the road?

4) We were driving home from a party on Saturday night and there was a police road block. They were waving their flashlights motioning for drivers to pull over. ( The police will then proceed to look in the car and ask for money.) Guy and I didn't miss a beat in our conversation as we told our friend's driver to just drive on through. I know I definitely wouldn't have been that calm about that situation when I first got here.

3) I was walking around the compound with two friends today, and there was a kitchen door and large cardboard box covering up a hole in the concrete wall surrounding the compound. ( A few weeks ago a Nigerian driver was driving down the road alongside the compound and tried to pass around another car and drove up on the sidewalk. He misjudged the width of the car and crashed right through the wall of the compound. Apparently, the brick work is "custom" and can't be found here is what the covered up hole looks like....the funny things didn't phase me a bit! It's Nigeria!!!:) Here's a picture to illustrate.
2) Seeing random police or guards on the street with machine guns doesn't terrify me anymore.

1) Yesterday at the playground, I noticed Elizabeth ran across the playground really quickly. Happiness was on her way home and walking through the playground area , so I just thought she was running over to tell Happiness good bye. I was talking with a friend. When I looked up again to see where Elizabeth went, I saw her with her dress pulled up to her belly button and Happiness holding her panties and Elizabeth was squatting over a drain peeing just like a Nigerian woman on the side of the road!!! Yep! that's my daughter! All the other little kids on the compound were outside playing with their parents watching them while she was " Takin' care of business" But, the real kicker was, I really wasn't even that embarrassed either.:) And now that I think of it, no one else thought too much of it.

Someone sent me an e-mail asking me how do I live in Lagos and have a good attitude about it. After thinking about it today, I think the answer is a combination of three things ( at least for me)

1) A little bit of an adventurous spirit

2) A pretty good sense of humor (You will not survive here if you aren't able to find the humor in everything.)

3) This blog (The blog has helped me so much to really think about the experiences I have had here and all the things I have seen. I love that I can share parts of my life on the blog for my family and friends to see what I am up to over here. But, it is really a place I can come to when I have a few minutes to myself and contemplate my life here. As I am writing, I am also understanding a little bit more each day about myself, Nigeria, and the people who live here.)
So, I am now off to bed to rest and see what new humorous things may happen tomorrow, and I'll meet you back here again.:) Until then, "O di arro!" ( good night (to sleep)) in Yoruba.


  1. A triumph in resilience for the whole family. Love Angela

  2. Have to agree with the last comment! Currently looking out on a park from my daughter's room in hospital and there's not a sign of any trash or even a man urinating. Life is definitely less colourful here! Gerry