its really not that bad

In all fairness I feel I should say its really not that bad here.  Really.  I mean, sure there was a lizard on the wall in our bedroom and the next morning a giant ass cockroach almost crawled on my foot in the kitchen (Joey, who heard my blood curdling scream from the other room, found me cowering on top of the dining room chair clutching a paring knife). 

And then there's the Harmatan, which is what they call all the dust and sand that blows south from the Sahara that covers everything with a thin layer of film - when you lick your lips you can taste the dirt - and by dusk the haze is so thick you can't see any of the giant rock formations around town and it looks as though a tornado is about to blow through when actually its so dry you wake up with a sore throat. 

But seriously, besides the minor meltdowns which my poor husband bravely bears, I feel really lucky to be here.  I am really enjoying myself. 

Yesterday on my way to the Embassy I saw three station wagons completely coated in colorful political posters and completely full of Nigerians all dressed in traditional African dress (long pants, ankle-length tunic, fez) who would all get out of the cars at each intersection and dance to the tinny reggae-sounding music blaring from the car speakers.

Most of the restaurants here are supposed to be mediocre at best, and rather expensive.  So far we've been to two (three if you count the fish market but that's an entirely different experience); one was good (enough - I mean we just spent the last four months eating out practically every night in culinary heaven) and the other one was not - so we've had to cook every meal.  Which is a challenge because 1. we don't have a dishwasher or a garbage disposal, and 2. although groceries are not hard to find, it is hard to swallow the cost ($8 for corn flakes.  Seriously.) 

Unless you want to buy a goat out of the back of some guy's trunk.  Because you can.  He was parked outside of the one of the restaurants and about twenty hooves were hanging out of the hatchback.  Our sponsors said that was okay but for really fresh meat we should go to the Wuse (Woo-say) Market and you can choose your animal while its still alive.  That way you know its fresh.  We did go to the Wuse Market but steered clear of the meat.  Actually there was nothing clear about the Wuse Market - it was this crazy, authentic, African market.  Stuffed full of people and fruit and fish and everything under the sun.  It was loud and smelly and colorful and overwhelming.  Actually I think that's how I'd sum up Nigeria so far.  Loud and smelly (not necessarily in a bad way, just a lot of new odors), and colorful and overwhelming. 

Many men and women wear traditional West African garb here, and its beautiful.  The women wear these long tailored dresses with mermaid skirts in brightly colored patterns with matching headresses that go in every which direction.  And it is so cool how so many people carry things on their heads.  I mean its amazing to see some woman in her brightly colored mermaid skirt (not easy to run in) dash across the street with a giant plate of plantains perfectly balanced on her head.  Or yesterday I saw a guy wandering down the street with a two-foot stack of papers on his head.  Papers!  I mean can you imagine if that fell over what it would look like?  He's just walking around like its no big deal.  Or they'll carry plates of these little round orange fruits, I'm not sure what they're called, but you'd think those suckers would roll around and roll off the giant plate on their head.  Nope.  It makes sense, especially at places like Wuse Market where its so crowded, to take advantage of vertical space, but it really is amazing.  As you would expect, everyone has perfect posture.  (I just sat up straight in my chair). 

People are friendly - everyone thinks you're rich because you're white (called Oyibo, pronounced "Oh-Ee-Bo") and you definitely have to bargain - but overall its safe.  And has peacocks!  I don't think they're wild here, unlike the chickens that roam the streets, but it was still cool to come upon them.  Every day its something cool and different like that and I'm really enjoying taking it all in.  I promise I've been taking tons of pictures and will upload them as soon as I can - we just have to wait for the internet guy to get back from his village where we went to get married.  It seems like everything is just a little funny like that.  Anyway, I've rambled on enough for now - forgive me its my first time writing anything down since we arrived - its been such a whirlwind.


  1. I'm glad you guys got there ok and you're soaking everything in! Chris called me when he was driving on the 1st and said he heard something about a bombing in Abuja on Fox News Radio. I then took to the intraweb to research, apparently it's not an uncommon event.
    Also - thank you so much for the gifts for the kids. Levi LOVES the Thomas book with the piano.

  2. We're happy that you, Joey and the dogs are there safe & sound. It's amazing how many times we see something about Abuja in the paper or hear about it on the news. I'm sure the news bites have always been there, we just didn't have reason to pay attention. Enjoy the opportunity to partake in something so new and different!

  3. Andrew and I are so glad to see things are overall going well. We wish you nothing but the very best on your first tour. Different location, but we will be in your shoes sooner than later. The whole thing seems overwhelming and slightly scary, but knowing other people are going through it too will help us get through it as well.