Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lagos Half Marathon - December 8, 2007

I have been talking of doing the Lagos Half Marathon assuming it would be in November like it was last year. it was just announced (see link below) that the half marathon will be on December 8th. Now I havea decision to make. I already had plans to go to Okomu on a Nigerian Field Society trip, a trip where we would be camping instead of staying in the lodge like we did in August. Decisions... Decisions...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Whispering Palms Regatta - August 25 & 26, 2007

The Whispering Palms Regatta was a sail organized by Kevin O'Farrell of the Lagos Yacht Club for the 8th or 9th year in a row. The regatta started at the Lagos Yacht Club and we sailed 37 kilometers / 24 nautical miles through the active Lagos Harbor and then up Badagry Creek which parallels the beach. The sail took about 5 hours to get there and because the wind was not that strong it took about 4 hours to get back, flying the spinnaker the whole way. It was a race in both directions with 11 Lightnings, 1 Osprey, 1 Tarpin and 4 Hobie Cats. Bob and I both sailed Lightnings but on different teams. Bob's team got 4th place on the way up and my team got 5th place. On the way back, Bob's teams got 7th place and my team got 4th place. We are both a little bruised up which is common due the rapid movements you have to make when tacking, or turning the boat. My butt is sore from sitting on fiberglass and from slipping on my butt during my initial efforts manning the jib (moving the front sail to the opposite side when tacking/turning the boat). Bob's butt must be made of steel because he is not sore! The boat is most efficient when it is flat on the water and it is our body weight that is used to get it flat. When the boat is on end, we hang out butts over the side and lean out. I am so surprised my abdominal muscles are not that sore because they were sure hurting when I was leaning out for almost half for the time on the water, especially on the first day sailing into the wind.
The sail up the creek started on Saturday at 11:30AM and ended at Whispering Palms Resort where we celebrated the day with drinks, an excellent dinner and dancing. Our room was very simple but nice and clean. The grounds of the resort were beautiful with lush vegetation everywhere (primarily consisting of palm trees), lots of seating along the water's edge, a swimming pool and a zoo with monkeys, crocodiles, turtles and peacocks (the zoo animals / reptiles could use some TLC). The sail back started promptly at 11AM on Sunday and ended back at the Lagos Yacht Club where we celebrated with drinks and an awards ceremony.

Bob and I on Saturday evening at Whispering Palms

We had a great time and will continue to sail on the weekends now that Bob has signed us up as members, which required a subscription fee, the signatures of a sponsor and two approvers, and he has to complete eight sails in three months. After this weekend Bob has six sails and I have three sails.

Bob and Ken as crew and David at the helm

John and I as crew and Julian at the helm

Typical Sights on Badagry Creek

No need for a pick-up truck when you have an Okada

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekend at Okomu - August 17-19, 2007

Bob helped me write this one... I am sure you will notice the difference in the writing style, especially in the beginning. Sorry about the formatting issues... I tried and tried to get it right and then just gave up!

Well, it all started on a Friday morning, August 17 to be exact. The shuttle, which was so prudently arranged by our trip leader, had not arrived and our window of opportunity to catch our flight was becoming increasingly narrow. After recruiting an idle driver from our residence and meeting the majority of our party, we shuffled seats and were on our way to the domestic terminal of the Lagos Airport. The drive went surprisingly well and our fearless leader felt a bit of premature optimism upon our expeditious delivery to the airport and rendezvous with the remainder of our party. This was soon transformed to irritation when some of the reservations were improperly booked and it appeared some of us may have to continue on our adventure without a few of our comrades, including our intrepid organizer. His methods of persuasion must have finally overcome the airline agents because soon we were all through security and, after an expected departure delay, aboard the 40 minute Aero Contractors flight from the Lagos domestic airport to Benin City airport.

Upon arrival to the Benin City airport, we quickly collected our bags and were greeted by the Okomu staff drivers and our trip leader’s driver. The trip through the congestion of the outskirts of Benin City offered colorful views of the hustle of typical Nigerian markets as well as the excitement and drama of a few minor traffic incidents so common in the chaos of daily driving in Nigeria. We soon broke free of the city and were rolling along through the countryside with views of the rolling hills, cultivated fields, well worn villages, and the smiling inhabitants that graced each. It appeared that maybe we were in for the treat that we each had undoubtedly hoped the weekend would offer. The anticipation of our arrival within the forest may have lengthened the course along the bumpy muddy roads but in due course we arrived through the grand molded elephant tusks that serve as the park gate and into the forest which was our playground for the next two days. We were greeted at the lodge by our gracious host and an entourage of park dignitaries and numerous staff who would endeavor to make our visit as enjoyable and comfortable as we would allow. Though hungry and thirsty from travel, we were all distracted by the second welcoming committee of trumpeting hornbills, scampering monkeys, and lush vegetation surrounding the lodge.

Okomu Lodge Dining Room (building in background) and one adjacent wing of rooms.

Bob Warren, our trip leader and local butterfly expert, taking in the view from the treehouse.

We immediately satiated our hunger with a lovely lunch buffet of a variety of sandwiches and roast chicken and quenched our thirst with our beverage of choice. Having arrived later than expected, those that were interested immediately set off to trek through the forest leaving the others to relax on the deck encircled by the forest. Our destination was to the taller of the two tree houses which shot 140 feet up into the air above the tree line allowing for a gorgeous view of the forest. The hike through the forest took about one hour and the ones who arrived and climbed up the tree first had a spectacular view of the sunset. Just after the sun set, the vehicles, some of which were worse from the wear of the trip along the uncleared forest road, showed up to take us back to the lodge for a quick shower followed by a scrumptious dinner. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing on the deck. About half of the group ventured up the road on a night hike in the hopes of finding some night life. We did see some beady eyes of a bush baby that quickly hid in the vegetation once it realized we had spotted it. By this time most of us were ready to get some shut eye.

Ascending into the canopy.

Spectacular view from the tree house.
The more ambitious woke up on Saturday morning to enjoy a run in the forest while others slept in or relaxed on the deck in the hope of seeing monkeys, forest hornbills, butterflies, beetles or any other critter or creature that was scurrying about. Saturday’s plan had a few options. One could either relax at the lodge and take short walks, ride in the vehicle to a half way point and hike the rest of the way to Iron Bridge or hike the entire 21km distance to the Iron Bridge. Those folks that decided to hike half way had an unexpected adventure. Due to the fact that the trip was occurring in rainy season, the roads were a bit muddy and in some places had very deep ruts. One vehicle made it through, the Ford Hilux, but the Totoya Prado had a bit more difficult time and after nearly tipping over the passengers got out and the Prado backed its way out of the mud hole. It was then decided that the two Prados would stay behind allowing only a portion of the food, drinks and supplies to continue on to Iron Bridge. The majority of the Prado passengers headed back to relax at the lodge while a couple had the unique adventure of an Okada ride through the forest to rendezvous with the hikers. Those that decided to hike the entire 21km had quite a hike to tackle. Our first stop was to climb up another tree house, this one rising 110 feet into the air, to catch a glimpse of the forest from above. We then continued hiking through the forest to the Iron Bridge, a well worn remnant of access to the surrounding plantations at the western edge of the National Park. Along the hike we saw colorful butterflies and catepillars and all shapes and sizes of termite mounds. We encountered traces of the elusive elephant population of Okomu but they remained out of sight. We heard the rustle and calls of monkeys in the trees and many forest hornbills. Once arriving at the bridge most of us jumped into the refreshing swift moving waters to cool off from the hike. The scenery was beautiful with unique white flowers piercing the surface of the water and the swim was a wonderful way to culminate the trek through the forest.

Traversing the park in the rainy season proved to be quite difficult.

Enjoying the refreshing cold water at the Iron Bridge.

The ride back was an adventure, especially for those that rode in the bed of the pickup truck through the low hanging vegetation and muddy roads. Upon arrival back at the lodge many freshened up to share the days experience with those that chose a different activity over drinks and a BBQ dinner. Many were exhausted from the days activities and headed off to bed while others ventured off for another night hike.

Sunday morning some relaxed around the lodge while others went on a local hike to the palm oil plantation on the northeastern edge of the National Park. About 11AM we departed from Okomu National Park back to Benin City to catch our flight, which was delayed, back to Lagos.

Good Bye until next time!

For more information on staying at Okomu, visit

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Beachfront Property Update

Here is the progression of beach growth outside our window. 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

Picture taken 7 August 2007

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

First Birthday in Lagos

I had a nice and relaxing evening on my birthday. Bob made me leave work at 4PM, which was a gift in itself because we got home at 4:45 instead of 6 or 6:15. Bob made arrangements with Daniel, our cook/steward, to get some flowers so I came home to three beautiful bouquets of flowers. We ate dinner early and our cook had made me a chocolate cake, which had one candle on it to represent my first birthday in Lagos! I had a tennis lesson that evening but I cancelled it because I wanted to be lazy and just relax! ; )

Here is a picture of Daniel and me with the flowers and the cake, chocolate cake of course!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

4 Men on an Okada

I thought this was a great picture!
Four grown men on an okada!
What a cozy ride and an inexpensive one sharing the costs!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

1st Place Female in the Junior Achievement Run-a-Thon 5K

Today Bob and I went to a fund raiser event that our company sponsored. It was a called a run-a-thon or a marathon but it was actually just a 5K. The event was to start at 7:20AM so Bob and I got there about 7AM to find very few people there… as crowd started to gather and the PA system was functioning, they started a group warm-up consisting of stretching for the participants - quite entertaining. Bob and I were the only oyibos (Nigerian slang for white people or foreigner)!!! The run, with a few hundred participants, started about 8:20AM. Bob’s admin talked Bob into running so we started running together. I started to get in the groove and ran a little ahead of Bob. The run was on many of the streets that we normally drive so it was nice to beoutide adn see more of the ite than we normally see behind the tinted windows of our car.

Gathering for the Warm-Up

A Picture taken along the Run

As I slowly (compared to the pace I ran in Houston) ran across the finish line, I was handed a little white piece of paper that read "1st female". I actually won first place of all women with a time of about 31 minutes! I did not expect to win nor did I push myself but I won! I was sort of excited and it definitely got me motivated to train for the half marathon here in Lagos in November (if it goes - no info on the website yet) and to get my butt back into shape. My prize was a night at the Protea Oakwood Hotel, 2 boxes/case of Indo Mie noodles (similar to Top Ramen), and a case of juice boxes. I am not sure what I am going to do with the hotel room… I first thougth of giving it to our driver or cook but thought it might be too extravagant of a gift. I then looked the place up online and saw that it is a very nice hotel so Bob adn I may stay there one night. I gave the noodles to my driver and cook and we drink the juice with breakfast.

The Award Ceremony

Bob Presenting Awards

Receiving My Award

We got there at 7AM and finally left at about 11:30 AM after the award ceremony. The post-run food did not show up until 11AM and there were no restrooms or trash cans. I asked about a restroom and they basically told me to go squat behind one of the buildings so that is what I finally had to do! I asked for a trash can and I was told to just throw the trash on the ground.

All in all, it was a fun day, a little drawn out, but definitely worth doing… and we raised some money for a good cause.

Link to Hotel where I won a free night:

Links to learn more about Junior Achievement:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

We are now settled!

As we meet people in the office and they realize we are new to Lagos, they always ask how we are getting settled into our new home. I can say that we are settled now that our personal belongings have arrived. Below are a few pictures of our living room so you can see where we live. All we have to do now is get new blinds and curtains and we are done fixing up our place. Oh yeah.... the other item still to purchase is a TV as the one we have was provided by the company and we have to return it soon.