The Hubs, Me, and an AK-47

 

Just a romantic walk on the beach!

Just a romantic walk on the beach!

 

The local cruiseline

The local cruiseline

On Saturday, we had the chance to go to Eleko Beach for an ” I Survived the End of the World” party.  There were t-shirts and everything!  The beach hut was rented from the village Chief and the village prince was there to, well… He was supposed to be there to help out, but it seems like he was really there to get bossed around. No wonder no one likes us here… The beach house was full-on island adventure hut. Coconut tree posts, palm frond roof, bamboo fence.

"Well, you know that the 2 fronds is the standard. We have a solid 5 frond roof."  Did you know that?

“Well, you know that the 2 fronds is the standard. We have a solid 5 frond roof.” Did you know that?

 

We walked along the beach, only to look back and see our police escorts following behind, with their AK-47s gleaming in the sun.  Utterly surreal to walk hand in hand with The Hubs down a beach with an armed guard behind us.

And then there was a man on a horse offering to give me a ride (I declined, as I didn’t want the news report to describe the missing American and then the horse, in the same paragraph. Just kind of embarrassing.) and a number of local villagers hanging out at the water. One of the women came up to me and said I was beautiful, which took me aback a bit, especially considering that she was gorgeous.

Love them!!

Love them!!

My favorite part of the trip was giving out lollipops to the local kiddos. It gives our host the opportunity to see the kids and recognize if any of them have things like ring worm or infections. He then sends them to the doctor and covers the cost. Certainly a kind act for a group of people that could use the help. And there was a moment where The Hubs got mobbed by the kids because he started handing out extra lollies, but decided to get lax in that whole “stay in a line” thing.  We have some things to work on before we have kiddos.

The Hubs trying to retreat!

The Hubs trying to retreat!

The village is, to quote my kids at school “way off in the cut, yo.”  In fact, we had to pay a “toll” to get into the village itself!  200 Naira each…not exactly steep when you look at it in USD, but it would add up for an average traveler.   We guessed that the toll was not used toward road maintenance :)

Dips so severe, they were 3/4 a goat deep! (I’ve decided to use goats a standard measurement. Go and spread it throughout the world!)

 

Without a doubt, the beach trip will stick in my mind as one of the stand-out most enjoyable events in Nigeria. I’m glad that we were invited to attend and hope that this is the beginning of adventures out in the community. My only regret is that I cannot capture for you in words the sights, smells, and experience of it all. So here, have some pictures:

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This is me with a coconut. It was retrieved just moments before and opened with a machete. It was subsequently dropped by me moments after this picture.

Word quickly traveled that there were folks at the beach hut. We walked away with two tablecloths, napkins, and a basket. The Hubs went through a hard haggling process for those wares.

Word quickly traveled that there were folks at the beach hut. We walked away with two tablecloths, napkins, and a basket. The Hubs went through a hard haggling process for those wares.

 

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Top Ten Reasons Why Raptor Day Would Suck Part 2

If you recall, I wrote a post on May 20th, 2011 about why it would suck if the Raptor happened. You can find that post here Raptor Day Part 1 (scroll down- sorry, I have the technical skills of a chinchilla) .  Seeing as the Mayans have elicited worldwide panic by being a bunch of jerks and deciding that 12/21/12 is a really good idea to freak people the eff’ out by ending their calendar.  Knowing that a large majority of people tend to be a bit simple, I can only imagine what is going to happen today.  This is my new Why Raptor Day Would Suck Part 2:

10.  I don’t know how The Raptor deals with time zones, but I think that I would be obliterated seven hours ahead of the rest of the folks in the U.S. That’s decidedly not fair!

9.  If The Raptor starts by picking people out of a crowd, I totally can’t blend in here. Again, just not fair.

8. I dragged Christmas presents halfway around the world for The Hubs and he won’t get to enjoy the bedraggled, mile-worn presents or the surprises that will be discovered in his stocking, as they will be purely Nigerian products.

7. I’m pretty certain that Sallie Frackin’ Mae will follow me to the afterlife and I’m not sure what the interest rates will be, considering location charges, shipping and handling- including extensive mile overages, and the Apocalypse surcharges.

6. Still can’t French braid my own hair. Life goal unattained.

5. If things like no electricity and hellacious heat are indicators of The Raptor’s descent, I may not notice any difference.

4. Still haven’t reached the weight on my driver’s license

3.  Do I get to be a librarian in the after life if I haven’t completed my degree? Is there a provisional degree program that I can use?

2. Considering how many people are here in Lagos, I bet the lines to The Great Beyond are going to be downright unbearable. Can we use air-miles for an upgrade?

1. There are so, so, so many books that I haven’t read yet. I’ll bring them with me. Is there a baggage limit for The Raptor Day?

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This Tastes… Peculiar

Being a fat kid, the meals here have been interesting compared to the normal fare.  As soon as the group sits down and we order drinks, the next 10 minutes of conversation go something like this:

“Has anyone had ______? Was it good?”

“I had _______. It wasn’t bad.”

“If you try ______, you’ll probably die. Just saying.”

The food is unbelievably expensive, to the extent that if we were in the US, I would be in the back washing dishes rather than eating off them. $16 bowl of soup? Mmhmm!

Lately though, I’ve been a bit more adventurous with food and that hasn’t always been a good move.  For instance, the cannelloni contained raw dough instead of pasta tubes and the spinach tasted like Earth. In fact, I’m gagging a bit as I think of it now.

For the most part though, I’ve been muttering a lot of, “this is… um…peculiar.”  Peculiar: adj.- My polite way of saying that  this is utterly strange taste, but maybe it’s a cultural thing.

This was my salad, in an attempt to go for a healthy, light lunch.

This was my salad, in an attempt to go for a healthy, light lunch.

 

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EmmaLee: A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Dearest EmmaLee,

Happy birthday and welcome to the planet!  This place doesn’t always make sense and I’m sure you’ll know that firsthand as you grow. The beauty of it all is that senselessness can lead to unimaginable magic. Your future awaits you and it is full of promise! For now though, there are a few things that I want you to keep in mind as you begin your adventure on Earth:

1. While it’s nearly guaranteed that you won’t always get along, your sisters will always be there for you.  Hang tight to them. They’ll be your guideposts for the rest of your life.

2. No matter how wrong something goes or how confused you may be, clarity will always be revealed later on. Always.  So keep your grit girl and stay tough.

3. Don’t mind Uncle Mark, he’s harmless, albeit a bit clueless :)

4. Your family, immediate and extended, has loved you long before we met you.  They are fiercely loyal and you’re stuck with us all.  And while you’ll grow up amongst a bunch of characters, it’s good for you. It means you’ll be funny because you’ll have all sorts of unbelievable stories. Just you wait!

5.  The best you can do each day is your very best. Somedays it works. Somedays it doesn’t. But hey, at least you tried.

6. If any of your cousins or siblings or uncles or, well, anyone in the family opens with, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing,” run the other way.

7. Learn. You will never think, “Gosh, I wish I knew less or didn’t feel as smart as I am.” Your education is power and your ticket to untold happiness.

8. Legos don’t belong in your nose. Ever.

9. If you hear your mom’s voice in your head- go with what she’s telling you.  She knows a lot more than you realize.

10. You are limitless.

 

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“Damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”- Kurt Vonnegut.

 

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A Little Less Reality

Rarely does my life model a reality television show, and for that, I am grateful.  Shows like Jersey Shore and Real World have provided me with a baseline of behaviors in which it would be appropriate for me to request institutionalization if I ever began mimicking that lifestyle.

However, a TV channel here in Nigeria is shooting a reality show about living for a month in our hotel. Suddenly my life has become a reality show…albeit (thankfully) with less cameras.

Sarah (the other expat wife) and I saw the girls when they were ” checking in” to the hotel. It was amusing to see the takes redone over and over again. Not to mention that we felt silly being in the background and staring. It was just up on the list of highly unexpected things to happen to us.  Train wreck in the front lobby and I just couldn’t turn away.

Last night, however, our reality show became more real when the group inadvertently walked into a ‘concert’ being put on for the show.  The actual singing was about 28 seconds long, but there will be three very white faces staring dumbfounded in the background of this rockin’ poolside scene. In addition, we scored some CDs from the performer which I bet are just stellar.

Because free drinks were being doled out, last night’s dinner was full of a lot of laughs.  I’m thankful that there is a cohort of The Hubs’ coworkers here at the hotel, who help to break up the monotony.  Because of culture differences, there are a lot of instances when people are funny, if only for the unfamiliarity of it all.  For instance, a small Hobbit-like man got into the elevator with us as we all retired for the evening.  He hopped in at the last moment and proceeded to have his back to the door, as he pleasantly stared at all of us. When he got off at his floor, he stepped backward, had a 20 second dramatic pause and with a bow, said, ” Goodnight” as the doors closed.  It was, by far, one of the most awkwardly awesome interactions we’ve had so far.  All five us kept it together until the doors closed, but the giggling was probably heard as we moved to new floors.

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Dancing, African style

Surviving traffic in Lagos is always a cause for celebration. We celebrated by going to a Christmas party.  In fact, we showered and away we went. We don’t believe in jet lag.

The party was, by far, one of the liveliest work parties I’ve ever been to in my entire life. There was a nearly incomprehensible M.C who was spurring people on in dance contests, acts of physical bravery (like hula hooping), and a karaoke contest that was equal amounts awkward and awesome.   All of this, while a bunch of other white folk were dressed in African garb.  Classic.

Our first meal in Nigeria was a traditional African dinner complete with… um… well, I don’t know. There was pounded yam, which has the consistency, look, and taste of a dough ball.   There was rice, which I was glad to recognize  though it turned out to be quite spicy.  I tried a spicy prawn gumbo type thing that made my ears sweat. I tried a seaweed looking thing that had a different type of hot spice that made my face breakout in bright red blotches.  And, call me a snob, but I avoided the basket of fish heads.

For The Hubs, the highlight of the night was the dancing. Not because he danced. No, no. In fact, he said he had one dance in him and that was done at our wedding. What left him giggling (he’s far too big to be giggling, by the way) was the fact that many of the Nigerian women came up to me  and began showing me how to dance.  Something with a hip movement and a toe point thing and um… I’m not a very good dancer.

You can see the rhythm, yes?

An Attempt at Dancing

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Fly Me Away

“Everything has changed. The flying changed. The airports  have changed.” – Eydie Gorme

Ordinarily there isn’t much to say about airports. If you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. Sure, some are a bit eccentric (Detroit with the tube of elctro-lights), or just plain insane (Charles De Gaulle), but they’re just airports.

But Nigeria isn’t ordinary, so why expect their airport to be anything but an absolute experience?

The flight was good and that’s really as interesting as I can make it. We have a pod seat that lowers flat, they feed us a bunch of food that is certainly loaded with temazepam, and :poof: it’s breakfast time!

When the plane lands, the stewardesses..stewarderers…flight attendants start announcing that everyone needs to remain seated until the seat belt sign has been turned off. Then, they proceed to say this over and over again, ultimately resorting to calling out things like “Sir, yes you, please sit down.” And my personal favorite, “Sit down NOW! NOW! Fine. Whatever.” I cannot confirm this, but I believe there is a prize outside the door of the plane and whomever can push down the elderly and anyone else that is in front of them and reach the boarding doors first, well, victory is theirs!

So after battling your way to get off the plane (do NOT be the person that makes your row wait.), a couple turns gets you to immigration. Immigration lines in any country kinda suck (conjecture, I know. Give me a heads up if you’ve ever been through a country’s immigration process and walked away thinking: gosh, I wish I could do that again right now!).  In Nigeria, however, the lines are utterly slow moving in a country that does not have an air-conditioned airport.

The Hubs and I were escorted by, um, a guy. I don’t know exactly what he does, but he tends to get us out of queue and has me sit down instead of going through customs.   This same gentleman goes and wrestles up carts while The Hubs and I have the daunting task of trying to get to our luggage.

The thing about the airport is that it is PACKED. Packed as in, you cannot directly walk.  You have to walk a few steps, shuffle a bit to the side, then continue on your path. Packed. Okay, in a country that doesn’t have as much of a personal bubble thing going on and somewhat lax policy on deodorant, getting to the luggage carousel involves basically picking up skinny women and  placing them on the other side of you. If you’re swift, you can move into their spot.  90 minutes of waiting, and we have found our bags. Did I mention there was no air-conditioning?

Now imagine getting through the airport, customs, and everything else, to have every person in a 1/2 mile radius stop what they’re doing and stare at you.

Welcome to Nigeria!

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1,400 miles

It’s about 1,400 miles from Houston to Cleveland. Now, The Hubs and I have a pretty strong marriage overall. I mean, it’s been a year and we’re still talking to each other! That’s pretty good. However, let it be known that 1,400 miles is a long time to be in such a small space with another person.  There is one other small detail that I feel warrants discussion:

The Hubs, clearly, is a man. And in Man-World ( that land in which all men form together in a bizarre club filled with unexplainable rituals and companionable grunts), Man does not stop driving for the night.  Never mind that Man needs sleep in order to safely transport the family from Point A to Point B.  Never mind that woMan (clearly not Man, for woMan requires things like food every 8 hours) has threatened divorce and bodily harm if woMan is not delivered to a hotel within the next 100 miles.  Never mind that Man can no longer see clearly over the haze that has clouded his eyes from lack of sleep and a twitch has developed due to an overabundance of Monster Energy.  No. In Man-World, Man does not stop driving.  Man drives straight for 22 hours.  Man grows a thick beard and nods to truck drivers at the gas station where Man fills up on the essentials: Gasoline, Monster, and beef jerky. For he is Man and Man must keep driving.

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Movin’ on Up

Certainly an update is necessary. Here’s our big news:

We’re moving to Nigeria! The Hubs had an opportunity to relocate with his job, and the offer was just too good to pass up.  As it stands, we may be there anywhere between 1 1/2 -3 years.

As I write this, we have a team of movers packing up our house.  If you have never had a moving company come in, I can assure that it is a very intense experience. These guys are quick, they’re efficient, and they’re wrapping toothpaste to ensure safe delivery.  And I’m sitting at the kitchen table like a dope, typing away so that I look efficient and possibly less unnerved than I am.

I’ve learned that hordes of strangers moving everything one owns can have a troubling effect on one’s sense of privacy.  Was I supposed to fold my underroos before they came in? What are the chances I can pack that box?  And while I know that they do this for a living, I can’t help but think how much they are judging The Hubs and me.

Opens a desk drawer:
“Oh yes, you must be a professional, I see you have quite a few mustache-eraser pencil toppers.  And the zombie squishy pen shows that you mean business.”

Opens a closet:  “Hula skirt with coconut bra and a giant stuffed sheep. Gotcha.”

Packing garage: “Yoga mat, hand weights, and exercise videos. Bwhahahahha, how did these work for you?  I’m guessing you want these in storage? Do you want them out of the original wrapping or should we keep the tags on them?”

Though, thankfully, inner monologues cannot be heard on the outside, so I don’t have to know if this is a real representation or not.  For now, all I know is that we have one guy who is the ‘me’ of movers. He has dropped an entire container of silverware, then a box of 500 toothpicks (I’m not Rain Man… I assume there was around 500, since it was full and that’s what the box originally held. Brilliant deductions, I know).  And I appreciate that he suggested we throw the toothpicks out, because 3 years from now, I certainly won’t remember what happened.

I will leave you with this: I don’t know where my toothbrush is.

After The Hubs told me it was too late to change my mind about moving.

 

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Step Class Made Me Cry

Have you ever tried to learn a second language? I’ve attempted a few and while I may have vaguely mastered English, I never succeeded in any other tongues. But, I do remember the feeling where you know a few words and phrases, but there’s a delay in getting your new words translated into your old language and then to your brain.  Ya dig?

Well, I rejoined LA Fitness last week, mainly because married life is making roly-poly and that makes me sad. I live a constant battle between my love of food (oh I do so love food) and my desire to always be able to look down and see my feet.  With that being said, it was gym time.

Tonight I went to “Step aerobics plus abs”. I’ve done step a few times in the past, but I’m still fairly novice at it. I know most of the phrases- basic step, V step, knee lift, etc. I can handle those as long as the combos are repeated a few times. There’s a delay between knowing what to do and getting my body to do it.

The classes aren’t broken down into levels. Go to whatever class you want, whenever you want. And tonight, I must have stumbled into the expert level because this class kicked my butt.  It wasn’t hard. Well, it might have been hard, but I never got to that point because I couldn’t keep up.

The instructor (a tiny creature with a great body. I hate her.) would use these phrases that I’ve never heard of. “L step around the base”, “Superman corners”, and  my favorite “knees up herelw fwehihrrmmennreem”

And while I was trying to do my “over the top straddle down L-step repeat combo”, she and the rest of the Stepford Steppers had already moved on to their “lunge over repeat grape vine reverse”. (Perfectly in sync, mind you.)

What’s worse….they were smirking! Or grimacing. I don’t know. I do know that in the beginning of the class, the people next to me clearly thought I knew what I was doing because when I messed up, it moved down the row like a spazzy wave at a baseball game. They soon learned to do the opposite of whatever I was doing (which was usually standing on top of my step waiting for them to do something that I could follow). It’s okay, all those women were wearing Spandex and had the bodies to do so. I hate them too.

The end of my step class career occurred when I was trying to do an “A step reverse Superman” and stepped off the corner and landed, ever so gracefully, flat on my face.

Point me in the direction of geriatric water therapy, please.

They Looked Like This

And Then There Was Me…

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