Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Driver Certification Training

Bob and I now have company certification to drive on the streets of Lagos. The certification included a few eye tests and some driving, in particular backing up into tight spaces. It was not too hard but they made us drive a manual van, which I was not used to but I still passed.

See this earlier post for a reminder on how the get a driver's license in Lagos.

Our Status Car and our Driver Niyi

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Minimum Two Night Stay at the Reddington Hospital!

And I thought I was invincible! I had just commented at lunch on Tuesday that I have been pretty lucky that I have not gotten sick yet, but I spoke too soon! This past Tuesday (July 10) I started to feel ill around 12:30PM and it just got worse to the point that I was miserable by 4PM. I had the chills all over my body, a terrible headache, felt faint and as I waited to be seen by the doctors at the clinic I started to feel nauseous and started to have stomach issues. Because I had a fever and the chills, was dehydrated, and had a high white blood cell count based on the blood work, they decided to start me on IV antibiotics and fluids and admit me into Reddington Hospital for observation. My diagnosis was a combination of a bacterial infection and dehydration. The hospital (and the ambulance I got to ride in) was very nice and I had the opportunity to stay in the Royal Suites on the 6th floor because the suites on the 5th floor were full. The food was just OK, but I sure would have rather been home eating dinner made by our wonderful cook. The eggs were tolerable but I ate very little of the lunch (spaghetti and chicken) or dinner (creamy chicken soup). I just got home this afternoon (Thursday, July 12) although I have been asking to go home since yesterday. I don’t believe that I needed to stay the second night as I was having no problems drinking fluids on my own and I could deal with the stomach issues in the comforts of my own home. It seems as though they are extra cautious about the health of the expats here, which is a good sign but calls for a little extra time spent in the hospital. I think I got the stomach bug from the cafeteria at work and upon admission the hospital one of the doctors said that the number of "my company name here" expats being admitted to the hospital for gastrointestinal problems is alarming. I plan to mention something about this to management as an obvious problem needs to be addressed. As for the dehydration… I probably did not drink enough water to balance out the coke, beer, and wine I drank while in Ireland. ; ) I am now at home writing this note on the comforts of our couch and have to finish my antibiotics (Cipro) orally over the next few days and get some rest.

Unfortunately I was already familiar with Reddington Hospital as I had been there about 2 months ago when Bob was admitted for a malaria scare. We went on a trip up north and he started to feel ill but still continued to go hiking in the heat. He would wake up feeling fine but as the day went on he would develop a fever and then have chills through the night. These cyclical symptoms are typical for malaria. When we arrived back in Lagos, I made Bob call the doctor and based on his symptoms she directed him to go straight to Reddington Hospital where he was observed for 3 days and two nights and was then released with a clean bill of health. Based on the blood work, he did not have malaria or a bacterial infection, but a viral infection that would go away with time.

As the subject line says, it seems as though there is a minimum stay of two nights at the Reddington Hospital!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Training and Vacation in Ireland

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Ireland. I was there for 2.5 weeks, the first 1.5 weeks in training for work… sounds rough, I know! For training, I was staying in Kilkee, on the west coast in Clare County. It was beautiful. I have never been that far north in the summer and was amazed when the sun rose about 5AM and set about 11PM. The weather really cooperated and the lack of rain allowed us to spend the day studying the rocks / outcrops (I am a geologist.) instead of working in a classroom, which was wonderful. The scenery was beautiful, with the teal green waves crashing against or upon the rocks. I got to catch up with some friends from Houston, mainly Taskin and Ashling, and meet some new people. The night I will remember most is when Taskin, Ashling, and I sat in cozy seats of a hotel, drinking a pint and watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

When the school ended, I traveled by bus and train to meet Bob in Dublin to start a week of vacation. We stayed in Dublin from Friday until Monday. The best hotel we stayed in, in terms of view and value, was the Eliza Lodge. Here is a picture from the top floor, where our room was.

On Saturday we met up with Bob’s brother Brian and his girlfriend Miriam who flew in from London for day and a half. It was great to see them. Here is a picture of us out on the town and a picture of the Temple Bar the "party" area of Dublin.

Once Brian and Miriam left we relaxed one more night in Dublin before heading off on a long drive. It seems most people tour the southern half of Ireland but we wanted to get away form crowds so we went to the west and then north. Our drive from the east coast to the west coast took us to Galway, a smaller more artsy version of Dublin, and Clifden in beautiful Connemara, where we stayed in the cozy Sea Mist House (B&B) for the night. The next morning we drove Sky Road, a beautiful drive along the coast, and then went to Strandhill, Europe’s surfing mecca (http://www.strandhillsurfcam.com/). Next we made our way through Donegal to Slieve League, England’s highest sea cliffs where the weather was not cooperating limiting our hiking and view… but it was still beautiful. We then drove over Glen Gesh Pass to Ardara where we stayed for the night in a placed claimed to be Ireland’s Best B&B! The Green Gate is owned by a French writer named Paul who moved to Ireland years ago and fell in love with it. The accommodations, restored cottages, were primitive (concrete floors, limited lighting, very low ceilings, no shower, only a tub) but the hilltop view and the ambiance made up for it.

From Ardara we drove the most direct route into Northern Ireland and our first stop was to check out Portrush’s harbor and beach. From there we went to the ruins of the 13th Century Dunluce Castle.

Our next stop was Giant’s Causeway, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and a vast area of regularly spaced (~30cm across) hexagonal columns of basalt formed during the cooling of the basalt flow.

After few miles down the road, we hiked out to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which was not a grand as the pictures made it look, strung across a 20m chasm only 30m above the ocean (it looked a lot higher in the Lonely Planet book). The bridge is a reconstruction of the type of bridge fisherman had built for the past 350 years to allow them to access the best places to fish for migrating Atlantic Salmon. The surrounding view was beautiful with turquoise blue water with steep cliffs and white sand beaches.

After a long day of sight seeing we stayed in the university district of Belfast, then headed back to Dublin for one more night to shop for a few things and then we headed home to Lagos.

We covered 1100 km in 3 days!

Dublin – www.elizalodge.com
Clifden, Galway County - http://www.seamisthouse.com/
Ardara, Donegal County - http://thegreengate.eu/ - the best B&B in Ireland
Belfast, University area – nice location but not worth advertising for

How would I describe Ireland… beautiful, very green, rolling hills, stone walls, partitioned fields, sheep, very skinny roads, unpredictable weather, very nice people, expensive but worth a visit. I believe Bob will eventually take the same training and then I may meet him to travel the southern part of the country.