We celebrated Christmas a day early.  Saturday morning M., her daughter, O., and her husband, G., came over for breakfast and presents.  We devoured cheesy scrambled eggs, thick bacon and soft, gooey, Cinnabon-style cinnamon rolls that Joey and M. made from scratch with cappuccino and fresh-squeezed soursop juice.  Bellies full, we moved to the family room to open presents.

M. and O. loved their new outfits from Old Navy, and M. almost cried when she opened her new cookbooks.  She kept saying to G., "Do you know how expensive these are here?  I could open my own restaurant!"  G. was super excited about the movie tickets we bought him since he's never been to a movie before!  They wouldn't stop thanking us and repeating "God bless you."  It was pretty sweet, and truly our pleasure.

Not to be outdone, M. and G. and O. had presents for us too!  They had a dress made for me and a shirt from the same fabric for Joey.  Here we are modeling our new gifts.

I didn't want to post any photos of M., O. and G., just in case, so click here to see the rest of my Christmas photos.

Christmas Eve we went to Mass at the Embassy of the Holy See.  We've been avoiding churches all year because of this, so it felt really special to celebrate Mass for Christmas, even with the very loud, Nigerian baritone belting out carols from the pew behind us.

Sadly, many Nigerians did not share the same privilege on Christmas.  It certainly put a lot in perspective for me, as I moped around the house on Christmas, utterly depressed until I got a very close reminder how truly  lucky I am that the only cross I had to bear on Christmas was celebrating without my family.  It's a damn shame what happened here yesterday, and my heart goes out to all those families who lost loved ones.

cape town concluded

Our last day in Cape Town we did something we've never done before: we took the double-decker bus.  Yep, we bought tickets on the red, hop-on, hop-off tourist trap, and we loved it!  It took us all around the city, through the City Bowl, District Six, Camps Bay, and even up to the base of Table Mountain, and did so with super-cute African music and an actually interesting narration of the city and its history buzzing through my very own pair of red earbuds.  It was great!

Unfortunately we were unable to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain because of the exceptionally strong wind blustering in from the ocean; the locals call it the "Cape Doctor" because it clears all the pollution from the city.  The view of Cape Town from the base of Table Mountain was stunning nonetheless.

After the tour, we walked over to Green Point Stadium, built for the World Cup in 2010, hoping to catch the tail end of a beer festival.  Unfortunately it had ended earlier in the day, probably while we were enjoying $3 mango martinis and ricotta-stuffed calamari at a cafe overlooking the beach promenade.  Darn.

We walked back to our hotel to get our bags then drove to the airport for the beginning of our lengthy journey back to Abuja.  Thankfully, the return included enough time to catch at least a little shut-eye at an airport hotel in Johannesburg Sunday night before the long flight back to Lagos and even longer wait in the crappy, old domestic terminal that had "The Ten Commandments" playing on a tiny TV in the corner.  As the sun set on our travels, we boarded the plane to Abuja, already counting down the days to our next sojourn.

The sunset from the Lagos airport.
Click here to see the rest of my photos from our trip.  I managed to narrow down the 1023 I took to 247.  Enjoy!