Seriously folks, this has been the easiest place we’ve moved to. The airplane ride was hassle-free, our airport pick-up was uneventful and our flat is furnished, comfortable and already feels like home. I’ve taken about a nine-minute video walking tour of our flat with some views off the balconies of the grounds. I’m still deciding on wall colors and will probably post an updated video once I’ve put the finishing touches on decorating. If we buy the paint, the maintenance crew will paint it for us. I’ve decided that it would be fun to have some bright African-inspired colors; I think that Greg is a little nervous about my interior design skills (he should be) but has given me free rein to do as I please. I’m thinking that perhaps he’s hoping I’ll get the bright color thing out of my system before we buy our own home. Smart man. Here’s the link to the youtube video walk through:
We’ve had some pretty cool adventures here already. One of my favorites was a jaunt to the seafood market under the bridge to procure some lobster-sized prawns coupled with a buying spree at the adjacent fruits and veggies market. In my mind’s eye, I was imagining a large, crowded bustling marketplace with hundreds of vendors hawking their sundry goods. I pictured a veritable labyrinth of baskets, tables, chairs and colorful blankets laid out upon the ground, perhaps some chickens lazing about for good measure their peck, pecking and cooing adding to the cacophony of sounds, colors and smells. I wanted rolly-polly little African girls complete with rows of colorful beaded hair all big eyes and smiles. I’m sure that market exists somewhere in Lagos, but the market under the bridge is not it. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally cool but just not as extensive as I had imagined and no chickens. Humph. The veggie-fruit market has about 20 vendors tops, some super cute kids, and incredibly aggressive vendors (mostly ladies), tugging on your arm, shirt, hip to try to move you along to their section. Greg stood back and let me do my thing with the help of our stewardess, Mabel, commenting that I was totally in my element. Ah, reminded me of my years in Cairo. The fish market was really cool, and we bargained big-time for the fresh prawns that we eventually purchased. In the end, we bought three prawns for 4000 Naira which is about $24; sounds like a lot, but check out how big they are! The lady ripped off the shells and de-veined them (mostly) on the spot. It was the quickest massacre I’ve ever seen, but oh those bad boys cooked up nicely.
For the rest of dinner, I made a gorgeous green salad with fresh herbs, arugula, spinach and cherry tomatoes, with a side dish of red lentils; we certainly aren’t suffering here.
Another fun outing was lunch at the hooker bar, officially know as the “Step In”. It’s the place where Greg ate dinner with the Admin team when he was in Lagos visiting this May. The Step In is the place with imported (apparently somewhat under the legal radar) South African steaks, gorgeous Greek salad and mashed potatoes for about $22 US, very cheap for Lagos. When we went for lunch with our host, it was during daylight hours so the ladies of the evening were not present: they roll-in around 9 pm. However, the cockroaches were out in force as I could see one of the bolder ones crawling out of the kitchen along the wall a short distance from the back of our hosts’ head. Greg saw it too, made eye contact with me, and we made a silent agreement to just ignore it. I decided that my close proximity with the direct view into the kitchen every time the service door swung open as waitstaff walked in and out was probably best to ignore as well. At any rate, the meat was fabulous, the salad fresh and I didn’t get sick, so no complaints from this girl. I’ll just sit further away from the kitchen next time.
Now, I never thought I’d love living on campus- so close to work and the people I work with, but I have to admit, I’m really loving it! The staff we’ve met are nice and interesting, and it’s fun to have a BBQ next to the pool after work. It’s also super convenient to finish-up in my classroom, walk downstairs then travel the 45 second commute to the bottom of the apartment housing. We’re on the third floor of a four-story walk up; I can come home for lunch and I’ve already started Mabel bringing an approved snack (two small apples with peanut butter) to Greg’s office. When school starts, Mabel will cook, then deliver Greg’s breakfast and lunch to his office as well. I’m starting to teach her how he likes his food, and what’s on the acceptable food list and what is not e.g. large quantities of butter and mayo are bad, nothing fried…the typical parameters. It’s nice having co-conspirators. But, I’m not all no-nonsense when it comes to food, especially when it’s time to celebrate birthdays. Yep, it was Greg’s on the 24th of July and despite being pretty exhausted from our travels, I managed to whip up a cake complete with frosting and candles that I had stashed-away in our bags; I just couldn’t bear the thought of a no-cake birthday!
With all this great food, it’s important to keep active and I’m finding that’s no problem on this campus. I’ve been running stairs in the apartment building then running sprints along the blacktop driveway next to the field; if I choose to, I can run laps around the field, too. I’ve also procured a set of keys to the dance studio which has a lovely wood floor and one entire wall is mirrors so I can work at trying to remember my forms (katas) from my karate days. I haven’t been in the pool yet because believe it or not, we’re in the rainy season and it seems too chilly, but that will change soon. We can hire a tennis instructor if we’d like and staff arrange for lots of athletic-types of activities to blow off steam and stay active. When I’ve been out and about on Sunday morning, there’s very few people on the streets so I’ll probably start running along the water and over the bridge once a week…don’t worry, I’ll bring my phone just in case.
Well folks, that’s pretty much it. I just wanted to let you all know that we’re definitely not suffering here and life is good. We love our apartment and even though it’s old and we’ve had to have lots of things fixed, our maintenance crew is efficient and quick, and they do it right the first time. I can’t find every single thing I want food-wise, but we have a membership to the American commissary (employees of our school and embassy folks can join) which is something I’ve never had before and incredibly convenient. I can either write a check out of our US account, or charge groceries and they’ll deliver a printed bill at the end of the month. Who would have guessed? I tell you, this is the best bubble I’ve ever lived in.