Sunday, November 25, 2007

St. Andrew's Ball

Last night we attended St. Andrew's Ball at the Muson Center in Lagos. We have been preparing by taking Scottish dance lessons so that we can participate in the fun. We danced the night away and had a great time. We will keep practicing for the next scottish ball in January. It was a black tie event - good thing Bob bought that tux in Hong Kong!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bike the Mainland Bridge

One of the Nigerian Field Society activities is to bike the mainland bridge on environmental day. On environmental day, no one is supposed to drive on the roads between 7 and 10AM as they are to be cleaning. Funny thing is that cleaning consists of burning a bunch of trash all over the city, which is terrible for the environment! Anyway, environemtal day is a good time for us to be on the roads. the ride goes from Ikoyi, where we live onto mainland Lagos and the ride is about 30km. This is the road that we take to get to the airport. About 40 people were on the ride and only one person needed the sag wagon - me! About 5km from the end of the ride, I got a flat tire that could not be patched (valve stem issue) and I did not have the right size tube. Bummer!

A local sail boat
View of homes from the bridge
Floating logs for sale

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lagos Half Marathon coming December 8th

Here is the group of folks I have been running with lately - from left ot right - Nigel, Steve, CS, Kevin, and me. Only Kevin and I are running the half marathon but the other folks are out there running for exercise and keeping us motivated.

Here are some photos from the running route in a residential area called Banana island, named after its shape. The area is being built on reclaimed land and there is a lot of construction but limited traffic.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sail Around the World - Lagos Yacht Club

Sail Around the World is an annual international food and drink festival at the Lagos Yacht Club with attendance numbers in the 1100 +/- range. A few months back, I had a few drinks at the yacht club a while back and signed up to run the USA booth, having never attended the event and having no idea of the scale of the event. I recruited some other folks, primarily, Nancy (pictured), Susan (pictured), Kelvin and another Nancy to help along with our cook. We served just over 300 mini burgers (our cook made them) and 200 mini hot dogs with condiments, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles and each one was held together with a toothpick with an American flag on it. Too cute! We had baked beans (Thanks Nancy B.!), 600 mini chocolate chip cookies (Thanks Susan!), and homemade lemonade (Thanks Susan!) served with Jack Daniels. Our booth was covered with red, white and blue decorations (Thanks Nancy O.!) and white lights. We had two barbeques going with Kelvin, Bob, Kevin and Bob O taking turns at the grill. Our booth was a success! Next year we will need more hamburgers and more Jack Daniels!

North American was at our booth advertising their direct flights to the USA and we raffled off two economy tickets to the US. Susan won one of the tickets!

Here are some photos. Check back soon as I am waiting to get more photos from others who attended.

We had a fan at the booth and I saw that there was no plug on the end of the wires. I asked my driver first and then the electrician and they told me there was no problem, Just stick the wires in the holes and it will work! Not the safest approach, but of course it worked.

Trip to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria

Bob and I went to Abuja this past week for a conference held at the Sheraton hotel.

Abuja, centrally located in Nigeria, is a 50 minute flight from Lagos and has been the federal capital of Nigeria since 1991. It is a planned city and was chosen to be the new capital in Nigeria in 1970 as the population of Lagos was exploding and the government saw the need to move to a politically and ethnically neutral part of Nigeria. The city construction started in the mid-70’s but moved very slowly and it was not until 1991 that it officially became the capital. Construction in the city is still ongoing. The infrastructure of Abuja is very different from Lagos as the roads are wide and smooth and the power is nearly constant. The other bonus is that okadas are outlawed in the city.

At the foot of Aso Rock, you will find the main government offices in an area called Three Arms Zone (executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government). Bob and I were pretty busy while in Abuja but I did get out with a coworker/friend Sharon for two mornings on a running tour of Abuja. We ran from the Sheraton Hotel past the National Mosque and the National Ecumenical Church (Christian) to the National Assembly buildings. In front of the National Assembly buildings is a large bronze statue called “The Mandate”. I have been reading travel books and the internet in search of the significance of the statue but have not come up with anything concrete. All around the base of the statue are life size bronze figures of people from many Nigerian tribes from the Gwari people, who were the nomadic people that occupied Abuja prior to it becoming the capital, to the Fulani, Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa people. The guards walked around the statue describing where each person was from. I got a number of pictures of the statue before someone started yelling at the guards for letting us take pictures without permission. This is when Sharon and I said thanks and ran off to the next site, which was Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We approached the tomb from its backside and took some pictures. As we were leaving a guard was trying to get our attention by shaking his finger at us but we just said good morning, waved and ran off back towards the hotel. We later read the ordinary people are not to get close to the tomb. Oops!

Here are some photos. The sky cleared up over the course of the week but initially there were many flight delays due to poor visibility caused by the West African trade winds called the Harmattan. Upon moving here I was amazed to find out that from November to March, fine dust particles are blown south from the Sahara Desert significantly reducing the visibility. I have been told that many people have respitory problems during the Harmattan.

To read more about Abuja, go here:
To see some more pictures, go here:
Sheraton Hotel: