Friday, 27 April 2012

Lazy Bum

I absolutely LOVE days like this and always looking forward to it everytime! The house is quiet. The sun is out. Two days in a row now. It has been raining pretty vicious the last few days. My nanny is not going to be here today. YES! It's 9.20am on a Friday morning and I am still in my pajamas. I plan to be in it ALL DAY!

Yesterday, it was a pretty exciting afternoon in Lagos. You know how I always like to look out from my window to see what's going on out there on the streets. Around 4pm or so yesterday, a fight broke out right outside our apartment building. A big crowd gathered. Apparently, a tow truck sort of hit a car while trying to tow another.

This other car was eventually towed away

After much shouting and pushing, the crowd eventually went away. When my husband came home, I told him what happened and showed him these pictures. He asked, "Did anybody get shot?". My dear readers, fortunately no one got hurt. Then after that, I saw a man squatting down and did his "business". Right in front of me. Well, not literally. All these happened within the hour after the fight broke out.

So, that was my afternoon in Lagos. Exciting stuff. One never gets bored living here.

I plan to sit down on my ass all day today. I plan to watch dvds.
Which ones?

I plan to eat Indian food all day.

Two days in a row already. My ass was burning this morning. Eating spicy food is good for you. This is what the experts say when you eat spicy stuff......

"The heat from any type of hot pepper triggers the pain receptors in your mouth, which turns on the feel-good endorphins in the brain. This decreases feeling of stress or depression. It is a great way to end or begin a day." I BELIEVE EVERY SINGLE WORD THEY SAY. I've been feeling happy since yesterday.

I'm locking the door now. "DO NOT DISTURB" sign have been posted outside but before I sign off, here's a little quote to start the weekend. Happy Friday, everyone! With much love.

~All I can say about life is, Oh God, enjoy it!
Bob Newhart (1929 - )

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Will You Be My Friend?

When you or your husband get posted to another country to work, you are what they called, "an expat". Everything will seem so foreign. Just like a little fluffy chick trying to find its mother, you feel lost. People that you see in that foreign country you may call them a snob just because they are not talking to you. You are introduced to a new culture. You are introduced to a new cuisine though some food you may not call it FOOD! You miss your friends.

Hello, people! Living an expat life does not mean one's living a life on a bed of roses. Totally has its ups and downs.

One thing I know for sure though, as an expat, Ang Moh or Oyibo in this case of mine, mean that I get to meet some new friends. Sometimes, these new friends will and can become your friend(s) for life! I still keep in touch with some families that we got to know in Saudi Arabia. I still keep in touch with friends that I got to know in Texas. I STILL keep in touch with my friends in Singapore too.

My sweet friends, Dana and Sun. Party animals! LOL!

We painted the town red for my birthday :)

My wahala sisters in Lagos

Even our children also get to meet new friends. Being in a foreign country is not bad afterall and you still get to keep your other friendships close to your heart. People come and go when you live an expat life but that's just how it is. As long as you know how to keep in touch, you'll be just fine.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Today Is An Important Day

Today is Administrative Professional Day which is also known as Secretaries Day or Admin Day. This is the day when secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, and other administrative support professionals are being recognized for their hard work. Being recognized for being a superworker (if there's such a word!). I'm one fine example folks. I was a superworker or at least I thought I was. Yes, I remember those days when I was one.

I can do it all! If only my ex-boss appreciated that!
Today is also Anzac Day. In Australia and New Zealand, Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance observed by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

More importantly, today is World Malaria Day. Now that we are in Nigeria (West Africa), it is important that I talk about it for a bit. World Malaria Day is commemorated every year on April 25th since it was established in May 1987 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization. This day was established to provide people with education and understanding of this disease that have taken the lives of many in Africa. In 2009 itself, 781 000 people died from malaria, mainly women and children. If you want to know how malaria is spread, click here.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately half the world’s population is at risk from malaria. And while malaria can be prevented and treated, it still claims the life of a child every minute, with more than 90% of all malaria deaths occurring in Africa.

I was told by my nanny that here in Nigeria, some local government clinics provide free medical check-ups for the people. Free malaria medicines will then be given to mainly children.

This has been my "best friend" eversince we came to Nigeria
Every year, there's a theme. This year's theme is,"Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria". Within the last decade, malaria cases have reduced significantly by 50%. Though you may think that it is not a big number, it is a great start. Preventing and treating malaria is a long-term commitment. As my husband would say, "One day at a time, one thing at a time.".

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Do You Have Something For Me?

It is just wrong to ask people for money. Don't you think? Well, I certainly think so.

I don't know about you but I am kind of getting tired and frustrated with the way people around here keeps asking for money. Especially at the airport here. It is always stressful to be at the airport here right from the moment one gets off the bus up till the immigration checkpoint to go to the gates. Same goes whenever we come back into the country. The "officers" there will make a point to stop you. "What's in your luggage? Do you have anything for me? Who do you work for?". It all sounds too familiar to me already!

Our kids are into their last few weeks of after-school activities. Our oldest son's soccer coach apparently "approached" me for money. He said that he is going to United States for a soccer coaching course of some sort and that he needs some assistance. Really?!? I just brushed it off and said ok that I will try to help him by asking the other parents. I don't know why did I even say that. He "reminded" me again last week through our son at soccer. This soccer coach will not get any money. He will not get anything from me or any other parents. Maybe I should report him to the school office. That is just not right. Then again, if it's not the soccer coach that will ask me for money, it can be a "police officer" or any Tom, Dick or Harry on the streets.

I would love to help. There is a lot of need in this country but just not this way. Just not this way.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Thank You, Naija!

It is not easy being a blogger and this is certainly my first time blogging about our experiences living here.

Never in my life have I done this before. Sometimes, when you blog, people criticize you. When they do, they do it BIGTIME! Sometimes, people like what you write. So, when I woke up this morning and saw this comment on my blog, I smiled...

"...awwwww I found this blog through a Nigerian blogger.
I like the blog. It amazing to see your journey to settling in. How its like too.
I think your children will have a happy childhood with amazing stories to share.
God will continue to protect you and family in that very SERIOUS COUNTRY, MY BELOVED NIGERIA.

First time here."

Thank you to you, my fellow reader/blogger for taking the time to read my blog. Yes, being in Nigeria is an amazing experience and I am glad that our boys get to experience it. I want them to see how the people here live in this part of the world. True, I had a hard time accepting the fact that we are here at first. It is a total culture shock but as days go by, I am getting to know Nigeria better. WE are getting to know Nigeria better.

Keep on reading. Thank you once again my fellow readers.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Stress Reliever

I made the decision to make my nanny/stewardess from being full-time to part-time now. I am so glad I did! Afer all, she started just doing part-time with me in the first place. She has since been coming here only three times a week versus five. I know some of you will say, big deal! Bloody hell, it is a BIG deal to me! I have never been a fan of having a full-time help at home. Not in Texas, not in Singapore and definately not here! Yes, I can do it myself. Cleaning the house, cooking etc but I refuse to "waste" my time doing it 24hrs a day. Personally, I don't have any issues with our nanny nor our driver. We have quite a good relationship.

My nanny "in action" during our son's birthday celebrations in school
Both our nanny and driver have been working for us since August last year and so far they haven't created any problems for us at all. I hope it stays that way. It's just that I don't like her to be in the house every day! Otherwise, she's been a great help! I call her my right-hand man or lady in her case.

I love being in pajamas all morning . I feel "free" wandering around within my own apartment and not having someone else aside from your own family members there with you. I don't feel stressed. That's important.

However, I do miss being able to go to Starbucks, Coffee Bean or any nice cafe, sipping a latte while people-watching, scenery-watching. Or simply walk around, window shopping in nice shopping malls. Used to do that all the time everytime my part-time helper came. There are a few places here that I can go to but most of them have that indoor feel to them. What's the use of doing that then?! It's better to sit at home within your own four walls and get comfortable.

Oh well, few more weeks till I can do a REAL people-watching again while catching up with my good friends. One hazelnut latte, please!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cool But Vicious

No, not me but I can be if you are not nice to me.

I'm talking about the weather. Nigeria's rainy season in fact. It is usually hot year round but now, it has started. If you have been following my post from the beginning, I explained about the wet and dry seasons of Nigeria. Now, we have entered the wet season which will usually last from April to October and sometimes it starts as early as March. Dry season is from November to March.

As I am writing this blog, it has started raining pretty hard. Singapore weather is very similar to this. Personally, I love it. This is my kind of weather. Nigeria does not have four distinctive seasons like most countries do.

Storm's brewing
Cool, cool rain

I don't mind the snow but hate it when it starts to become a wahala (problem) to do daily chores/errands outside of the house. Snow blizzards are not fun. I haven't had the chance to experience it and not sure if I want to!

Too much rain is not good either for us folks in Nigeria. When you have too much rain, flooding occurs and traffic becomes horrendous! I am not going to complain. Instead, I will enjoy this weather of Nigeria right now. Don't bother me, I'm back in my pajamas/lounge clothes again. Is it bedtime yet?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Arts & Baskets

One of the reasons I love living in Nigeria is to be able to have the opportunity to buy beautiful, colorful artwork, fabrics and of course baskets. Yes, baskets. Oh my gosh, I NEVER have enough baskets! They come in different shapes, colors and sizes.

LOVE the vibrant colors
In the 9 months that we've been in Lagos, we've acquired a number of these baskets, paintings/artwork etc and love them all.

Yesterday, I bought a bunch of baskets at Lekki Market. I am going home to Singapore for a visit during our children's summer school holidays and thus bringing them to give away as souvenirs. They make nice gifts don't you think?

Of course, I never leave the market with these baskets without haggling hard with the vendors! I mean REAL hard!!!

So, family and friends far away, I hope you like them as much as I do!!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Almost Ready

Yes, I'm almost ready.

Top ten things that I am almost ready for:

1) Summer. Oh yeah, long summer break.

2) Thailand, the land of smiles. Sawadee. LOVE, LOVE this place. Our favourite place to hang out.

3) Beaches. Sun, sand and sea.

4) Massages/Spa time.

5) Spicy food. LOTS of it!

6) Singapore. Visit family and catch up with good friends. Ladies' night too!!

7) USA. Nothing beats this place.

8) First annual shipment.

9) Camping.

10) Shopping!


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Time To Stock Up

Now that we are back in Lagos, it's time for me to stock up the kitchen with food especially when our 7yrs old son is showing signs of a serious growth spurt!

I still don't feel 100% yet with this cold of mine. My chest feels heavy and tissues have become my best friend literally! Shit, I feel like chopping off my nose! Getting there though..getting there.

Before we went on our spring break, there were lots of rumors about another strike that might happen this month, in April. So far, it has been quiet though. Few days ago, I did, however, see a long queue for petrol right outside where Shoprite is at. Don't know whether that's a tell-tale sign. I am stocking up! I always have been. Anything can happen here.

I love buying vegetables and fruit at the market under the bridge. Loads of fresh green vegetables everywhere. The vendors there can be very pushy, a bit aggressive at times. Heck, I don't mind it if I can buy a BIG bunch of bananas for merely 500Naira (US$3/S$4), pineapple for 300Naira (US$2), a kilo of crabs for 800Naira (US$5) and one whole big fish for roughly about 1500Naira (US$9) depending on the type of fish you buy. Can't beat the prices here than in the grocery stores for sure! Establish a good relationship with a few of the vendors armed with your bargaining skills and you'll do just fine!

About 2200Naira (US$13) for a kilo of BIG prawns
If you do buy fish here, just be careful as the vendors will put some coloring on the fishes to make them look fresh. I am not good at spotting that!! This is when my friend, Amy, or even my nanny comes into the picture! THEY are good in telling these things. Me? Not so much!

The market is always buzzing especially on Fridays. Sometimes, local Nigerian music will go blasting through a speaker hidden somewhere in the market. Some vendors will get their groove on and jiving with the music. It's a fun sight! Gotta love it! So, to the market I go.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Hello Cape Town

We arrived in Cape Town on a nice Tuesday afternoon. Weather was nice throughout our stay in South Africa except for the last day or so we were there.

V&A Waterfront in Cape Town
Was supposed to live in a serviced apartment at the waterfront for five nights but after two nights we had to move to another place. The aircon wasn't working, there was no internet and phone access readily available. My husband especially was not happy. I was not happy. So, by the time we checked into our new hotel, I know everything would be ok when I saw this...
Beautiful sunset in Cape Town to end our visit to South Africa
The hotel do not allow children ages 12 and below to stay with them but I am so glad they made an exception in our case all thanks to our wonderful travel agent, Leanne of Ngwe Safari, who made it all possible!!

Quite a bit of things to do in Cape Town itself. Managed to sneak in a day's trip along the Peninsula. Did a drive through Hout Bay, boat ride to Seal Island, visit a penguin colony and a couple more.

By the end of the day, our boys were so exhausted they were not even smiling! Getting things done in South Africa however, was also challenging. I ran out of minutes for my mobile phone. It was a hassle to get a SIM card. In the end, cut the story short, we have phone access! By this time, we had no mood to go to our wine tour. It worked out fine for our boys because THEY get to go to a theme park called Ratoonga Junction. It was fun though. Everyone's happy so it's all good! Good thing we did, as the next two days, Cape Town rained on us.

It have been a good spring break. Kids are back in school and we are swinging back into the groove of things in Lagos. Till next time. Adios!

Safari, How Wild Are Thee!

Hey, hey folks! Did you miss me? I sure miss you all. Now, that's the truth :)

Yes, got back to Lagos on Sunday night. It's true when they say sometimes taking a vacation can be very tiring. I was so knackered when we finally stepped into our flat. It doesn't help also when I brought a cold back with me. Today is day three that we are back and with "drugs" in my system, I am feeling a little better today.

South Africa is georgeous. We started our trip with a safari 4 hours away near Cape Town situated in the heart of the little Karoo, along the scenic Route 62 and Robertson Wine Route. No, we didn't drive. At all. I'd rather absorb in all the beautiful views rather than get stressed out driving while on holidays!

On our way to safari. Beautiful views throughout.

Entrance to the game reserve
This game reserve is only about 10-11 years old compare to others but it is certainly filled with an impressive and diverse collection of wildlife, 650 plant and 216 bird species.  Plenty of things to do such as guided nature walking opportunites, visit ancient rock art sites, cool stargazing at night and the list goes on. It was so peaceful and breathtaking. No tv. Who cares? Nestled among nature itself are our constant entertainment.

View of our lodge from a distance on one of our game drive

My afternoon tea overlooking Bellair dam and the surrounding mountains
Our boys, however, were not thrilled with our daily 6am wake-up call to get ready for our 6.30am morning game drive. Must admit I was not thrilled either. Ha! The morning air was crisp and cold!

Brrrrrr....I was not kidding when I said it was COLD!
Once we were out there, the morning wake-up calls, dragging our butt off the bed, catching a cold were all so worthwhile when we saw these.........

Beautiful parade of elephants

Zebra crossing. Cute!
Just simply breathtaking views
Indigenous flora and fauna found at the game reserve
Cocktails and tea break in the middle of nowhere was awesome. Breakfast in the bushes one morning was an experience. It happened to be the favourite hangouts for the white lions the next day!

Our ranger, Suritha, preparing our breakfast in the bush :)

All in all, we managed to see oryx, white and tawny lions, kudu, red hartebeest, black-backed jackal, eland, white rhinoceros, baboons and many more. Safari's done. We are ready for Cape Town next. Yes, city life. Here we go.