Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Our Sea Shipment has arrived!

On March 28th, our belongings were packed up in Houston to be sent in a shipping container to Nigeria. On May 22nd, it arrived in the orts of Apapa, Nigeria where it sat for weeks before it was finally inspected by customs. I was hoping it would arrive before I left for Ireland and it did, the night before. At 8:30PM, I got a call from security at the gates of our apartment building asking me if it was OK for the delivery truck (called a lorry, a British term for a medium to heavy truck) to come in with our goods. Of course I said yes and was very excited!
The unpacking started when the lock was busted off of the container with a sledge hammer because the key was no where to be found (it may not have been provided to protect our belongings but I am not sure). Two-thirds of our belongings were unpacked from the 40’ container quickly (the 40’ container was not full). I stood at the bottom of the elevators checking boxes off our inventory while Bob was in the flat with the help of one man placing boxes in the appropriate rooms. We learned with the IPOD experience to have as few strangers in our flat at one time as needed.

The remainder of our things in the container were never inspected by customs and were still in large wooden crates. At this point it was about 9:15 or 9:30PM and we were hoping that the unloading would be finished soon so that our neighbors could have some peace and quiet. Unfortunately peace and quiet did not come until almost 11PM. The delivery men did not have the appropriate tools to cut the metal straps on the container or any sort of crow bar to pry open wooden crate made of plywood and nails, nor did they have a flashlight to see what they were doing in the dark. Our neighbor’s driver let us borrow a flashlight so the men could see while they pounded on the metal straps with the sledge hammer trying to break them. Once the straps were broken they used the sledge hammer to pound on the plywood, breaking it down to rip open the crate. It was very loud and Bob and I were going crazy knowing that our belongings where right on the other side of the ½” plywood protected only be cardboard. As each crate was emptied, it was pushed out of the back of the container on to the ground with a loud crashing sound, which I am sure our neighbors loved!

Once everything was unpacked, we dashed (tipped) to workers, the security men here that helped and our neighbor’s driver Edward who provided the light and helped me check in boxes while I was getting water for the workers. We stayed up until 3AM unpacking, slept until 6AM, and then continued unpacking as much as we could before I left for training in Ireland. I called in to work for a meeting but stayed home unpacking until the shuttle bus to the airport picked me up at 6PM. Bob and many other neighbors stayed home as a strike started that day (see June 6, 2007, Fuel Shortage post for strike reasons).

The wood from the crates, cardboard boxes and packing paper is first offered to our cook/steward and our driver. The crates were taken and used but most of the boxes and packing paper were not.

While I was in Ireland Bob unpacked almost everything and our place I now our home. When we first arrived here we were constantly asked if we are settled. We can now say that we are! Pictures of our flat will be posted soon.

If you ever move here put a flashlight, metal snips and a crow bar in your luggage or your air shipment so the unpacking of your sea shipment will go smoother!

Beachfront Property

Last month I posted some pictures of the view from our flat. The view to the north has changed quite a bit in the past month. See for yourself! I am sure there will eventually be something built on this property as the area just to the southeast has grown signifcantly in a similar fashion.

Picture taken 17 May 2007

Picture taken 19 June 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

Our Status Car has Arrived!

Today we traded in our pool car and upgraded to a Toyota Prado. Now we have the vehicle capable of going all over Africa (with security Judy! ; ) ) I believe it is tradition to buy minerals (soda) for all of the drivers when your status car arrives. We need to investigate and then provide the funds for their celebration.
I will post a picture in the next day or so.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shipwreck Beach

A day at the beach is a bit primitive here as there are no toilets! No biggie! About 6 or 7 years ago, a ship ran aground here and its remains create a nice wave break to surf or boogie board. Click here to see more pictures from an earlier post.

While at the beach, some locals were fishing in their canoes. They came ashore with their catch and were joined by some family members to collect and clean some of the fish. Nancy, a friend from work and my neighbor, took excellent pictures while at Shipwreck Beach.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Goin' to the Movies at Silverbird Cinemas

Today the plan was to go to Wreck Beach (see April 15 post) but the weather just was not cooperating. Since it was a rainy day, we decided to go to the Silverbird Galleria to do a little shopping in the bookstore and go to the movies. The Media Store occupies the entire second floor and sells books, music CDs, DVDs and has a simple but stylish coffee shop in it. We bought a map of Ireland for our upcoming trip and a Nigeria map book, which would have been real handy to have when we went outside of Lagos a few weeks ago. After a little shopping we ran into some friends, Kevin and Susan (who had planned the rained-out boat trip), and went in to see Oceans 13. The cost of the movie... a whopping 1500 Naira (~$11.50 US)!

To see what is playing at the theater go to: http://www.silverbirdcinemas.com/

Here are a few pictures of the mall. It is four stories with the Media Store on the second floor and the movie theater on the fourth floor. On the ground floor was an interesting type of ice-less skating rink. Before people started skating, the maximum number was two people on the "ice" at any time, they sprayed down the floor with some liquid to make it slippery. Very different!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Longest Commute yet!

Today it rained all day and a lot of rain in Lagos leads to extreme traffic problems. The roads are not great, they have a lot of potholes and in many places are only wide enough for one car, and there is a near nonexistent sewer system. These conditions lead to A LOT of standing water on the roads and TRAFFIC! A coworker called and asked if I was interested in taking the boat across Five Cowrie Creek, the body of water that separates Victoria Island from Ikoyi, to avoid spending a lot of time in the car to get across the very congested Falamo Bridge (which connects Victoria Island to Ikoyi). I had a change of clothes in the car so I went for it. Bob did not have a change of clothes so he went in the car. My commute took 37 minutes and Bob's commute took about 2 hours and 5 minutes to drive about 3 kilometers. The next day I was speaking to some coworkers and some commutes were as long as 3 hours to Ikoyi. One coworker has been here for almost 5 years and he said that he experienced his longest commute on this rainy Thursday.

The majority of Nigerian coworkers live on the mainland and their commutes were outrageous. Wasiu, who works in the same workroom as me, left the office at 4:15PM and got home at 8:45PM!

Here is a map to help you get oriented:
If you are interested, here is a study that was done in 2000 concerning the drainiage on Victoria Island and Ikoyi:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Fuel Shortage

There is currently a fuel (pronounced fwel here) crisis in Lagos. Though unrelated, the fuel scarcity comes just after a price increase (65 Naira/Liter to 75 N/L which equals about $2.25/gallon). The gas price here is fixed and I believe subsidized by the government. For a country that has sooo much crude oil, it is hard to believe that there could ever be a short supply of gasoline. I had heard that the shortage was related to the selling of refineries as the government changed hands. Another reason I heard had to do a strike by the fuel tanker drivers. Nevertheless, the long lines for fuel at the nearby gas stations caused much congestion to a city already prone to heavy traffic.

Read more about the fuel shortage here:
Read more about the fuel price increase here:
Read more about the possible upcoming strike here:

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Goin' Sailin'

Many expats join the Lagos Yacht Club for the opportunity to sail and socialize. We were planning to go check out the yacht club and watch a race on Saturday (June 2) but it was a rainy, flat day so the race was cancelled. We still went to check it out and hung out at the yacht club for some drinks with Kelvin, Kevin and Gary and dinner with Kelvin. The yacht club is located on the southwestern tip of Lagos Island, overlooking the outlet of Five Cowrie Creek into Lagos Harbor. We have heard that this is a great location to watch the sunset.

On Sunday, we went on a "cruise" to Tarkwa Bay in a Lightning sailboat owned by some coworkers. There were four of us in the boat (me, Bob, Kevin adn Kelvin) and it took about 45 minutes to one hour to get from the Yacht Club to Tarkwa Bay, a a crescent-shaped beach sheltered within the Lagos Harbor breakwater, where we hung out by the beach and had a BBQ lunch.
We had a good time and are interested in joining the yacht club and sailing more often. Next we would like to try out the Hobie 16 as we hear they are faster boats.

Here is a picture of the beach at Tarkway Bay taken from the Yacht Club cabana. The boats on the beach are the Hobie 16s. Along the wall in the foreground of the picture, street vendors display their goods for sale througout the day.

On this website you can see a picture of a Lightning sailboat.

Lagos Yacht Club website
It costs about $430 US to join and about $240 US annually. Those that sail usually buy into and share a boat. The people that we know have Lightning sailboats.