Saturday, February 28, 2009

Biking the Third Mainland Bridge

Bright and early on sanitation day, a groupof about 40 riders set off on a 30km trip from Ikoyi across the Third Mainland Bridge and back again. Below, everone is attentive to me and my instructions.
On the bridge, the sun rising over the lagoon.
Many fisherman out for their morning catch.
Collection of sand boats very near the turn around point, which is the first bridge on Ikoyi. These boats are being unloaded. If you look between the two boats on the left, you will see two men with large bowls of sand on their head. What hard work! When the boats are empty, they are much higher in the water. When they are full, any wake or waves from another boat will cause them to take on water and sink.
Brief stop at the turn around point (not all pictured here). Logs waiting in the que to go to the lumber yard. It is a really amazing site. Lumber yard. Terrible but true... Poopin' where they fish! See the two men squatting on the logs closest to the bottom edge of the photo... The government should really do something about the infrastructure in this country... if only there was adequate plumbing and sewage treatment!
Fishing with a net... Getting ready to throw it out....
...out it goes...
...see the circular mark in the water, that is the edge of the net where the weights are...
...pulling up the net as the weights on the edge close in around the fish. Again, and again, and again...
View of buildings on lagos Island, near the marina.
Relaxin' by the pool after the ride.

Get ready for the next ride in the Fall 2009.
Past bike rides with links to blog post:
November 2008 ride cancelled as sanitation day was cancelled.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ikogbo Masquerade Festival

Link to a Nigerian Field Society trip I went on but never wrote about...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

GLO Lagos 5K Corporate Fun Run

The day was a bit overcast, good for a 5K run, but warm and humid. It was the GLO corporate run and we recruited a bunch of folks from work to participate, some that run all the time and some that don't but this has motivated them to. I was excited to be one of the people motivating others to get out and run or walk. We did try to put together a team of fast people and they did fantastic, taking first place and winning 1 million naira (~$6700; 150naira:$1) which will be donated to the Nigerian Heart Foundation. The team consisted of all men but we had one Nigerian woman Uche who should have been on the fast team as she performed excellently taking first place overall for women. I think I took 5th place for women but they are sorting out a computer glitch so I hope I get it (I should). The prize will be a Blackberry and 100,000 naira airtime (~$670). Friend Jonathan who was on the 1st place team also won 5th place overall for men. It was a great day. Everyone finished and had fun, which was the point of the day.

Picture before the run. Unfortunately not all team members are in the picture.

It was finally confirmed by video evidence that I was the 4th woman to cross the line... I am waiting for my Blackberry and airtime minutes. ; )

UPDATE: GLO presented he awards at a ceremony and I was asked to come to reeive my gift. It was presented to me as if it was a Blackberry (it was in a bag) and I trusted them. Big Mistake! They gave me a SIM card with no minutes on it and a USB wireless modem. One I realized I had been duped, I let them know and I was told they had no Blackberrys available (BS!) and that they owed me a 50,000 naira airtime minutes. I won't hold my breathe waiting on that!

Stay tuned as next weekend is the GLO Lagos Half Marathon.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Weekend in Idanre

I don't have time to post much now but I will post 2 videos that shows how beautiful the area around Idanre, Nigeria is. Idanre is located east of Lagos in Ondo state and the drive was about 4.5 hours long to get there.

Bob was not on this trip as he was in Houston for business. ; (

Thirteen people in a caravan of five cars departed Lagos on Saturday morning. Enroute to Idanre, we stopped at a rampart in Epe, a 100km long wall from the 10th Century that used to surround an old kingdom. The areas outside the wall was considered sacred.

Just after Epe, we had an encounter with the infamous sticker boys, people stopping cars to get them to buy local state stickers they say are required to drive on. Sharon and Jonathan’s driver, in the front vehicle with the guard, violently swerved the car toward them to avoid having to stop and nearly rolled the car. It was a very unsafe move and a stupid move when you are with a caravan of cars. The sticker boys threw a stick with nails (a common practice here) in front of the second vehicle who ran it over requiring us to make a short stop down the road to get the tire repaired. I was in the last vehicle and had no idea any of this was going on in front of me.

After many police stops along the way (20+), we checked into the Rock Valley Hotel and then broke up unto two groups, one group that was hiking (group of three) and one group that was biking. Ten people (me included) set out at 2PM for what we thought was a 2.5 hour bike ride but it ended up being 5 hours long and strenuous but fun. The scenery, with Yosemite-like views, was beautiful along the road which went around one of the large granite outcrops (inselberg) through small villages. The first stop along the way was to see the drying of the cocoa beans (300 naira/kg) and down the road Sharon opened a cocoa pod for us to see and taste the goop around the seeds… None for me please! One by one, people got off their bikes and into the SAG wagon that followed us (which ran out of water) or the one that eventually met us from the other direction (met us late but had water). Since we did not anticipate such a long ride, most of us ran out of water or were very low on water which was one of the major reasons folks stopped riding and hopped in the car. Five of the ten completed the whole ride and I am happy to say one of them was me. Back at the hotel we ate a dinner of chicken and chips (fries) or fish and rice. The food was good but the chickens here are very skinny! ; )

On Sunday, the goal was to hike up on top of the inselberg and to get there we ascended over 700 steps and stopped at a few very nice view points. On the hike, we came across a hunter who used a sling shot to kill rodents and he happened to have made a kill that day (see below). Jonathan wanted to see how good the hunter’s accuracy was so he asked him to aim for a particular tree. He aimed his sling shot but missed a few times over, but he was close. We walked through an old village up on the inselberg but it is uninhabited now. As I said before, the views were beautiful. We hiked down a steep rock face to “The Footprint,” a foot-shaped depression in the rock that is used to determine if you are a witch or sorcerer. If you place your foot on it, and it gets stuck, then you are one! Sheryl’s foot fit but she was not a witch. I could have told you that! I did not try! ; ) We walked to the peak to take in the views and then walked to an overview of Idanre, where old unused chalets exist. We may have to come back here to camp.

We hiked back down and reached the bottom about noon and started our drive home which took 5 hours and we had not police stops… they much have all been in church.

A link to another trip write up posted on the Nigerian Field Society page.

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Skirt made with the Fabric from Balogun Market

A few weeks ago I did some shopping at Balogun Market in search of fabric to make a skirt to go with my fuschia shirt. Here it is. I really like it, though I don't think this picture of me is too great, sort mug-shot like!

Notice on Bathroom Wall in Lagos Bar

You are welcome to XXXXXX Music Bar as long as you don’t create a problem or disturbance.
We don’t prejudice or filter who is allowed into XXXXXX Music Bar until you cause a problem.

Show Respect at all times
Don’t rush the customers
Don’t approach men until they have been served their 1st drink
Don’t approach men accompanied by other women
Don’t persist or keep pushing after a customer has said No or said that he isn’t interested

You will be bounced if:
You break one of the above rules
You disturb customers so that they complain
You fight with the bouncers, customers, employees or other girls

You will be banned if:
You cheat customers (here or there)
You steal from customers (here or there)
We receive two or more complaints about you from customers
A regular customer requests that you be banned
You fight or argue with the bouncers

Customers can call a bouncer at any time to have you removed if you are disturbing them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What to Bring and What Not to Bring when Moving to Lagos

I have been asked many times what should folks bring when moving here. Bob and I came to Lagos for business about a month prior to moving here so we had the opportunity to go to the stores and see what we could buy in country. As I recently mentioned in a post, you can get almost anything here but you will likely pay for it. While you may find a certain item at the grocery store one week, odds are it won't be there next week. Grab it if you see something you want. I buy Dr. Pepper (for about $1 a can) whenever I can find it!

If you are coming from Houston, go to East-West electronics and get your step down transformers to covert the 200V power to 110V so that you can use your 110 appliances if you choose to bring them. We saw that the transformers were available in Lagos but the quality is not very good. We brought all our 110V appliances as we did not see the point in buying all new stuff and putting our stuff in Houston storage only to retrieve it 3 or more (hopefully more) years later.

I brought a picture printer so I can print pictures to give to people, especially the people that let me take their picture! Bring replacements ink cartridges and paper too!

We bought a TV and surround sound in Lagos. If I could do it again I would probably bring it in my shipment. I think we paid a little more buying it here. We did buy dual voltage so that we could take it anywhere we go next. The good thing about buying it here is that we had it right away and did not have to wait for our shipment, which took 4 months to get here.

We brought our couch. Most couches here are stiff and not very comfortable.

Paper Products
The toilet paper form the US is heaven compared to the stuff here and the paper towels that I have bought here disintegrated in my hand once they got wet.

Laundry Detergent
Laundry Detergent is Expensive as it is imported from Europe. If you are a brand snob, then bring what you want because you won't find it here. This applies to more than just detergent.

Sports Equipment
There are lots of activities to do here in Lagos. You can join the Ikoyi Club and play tennis, squash, golf, or swim. Membership is expensive but tennis coaches are not. Bring your own gear including shoes. If you like to sail, join the Lagos Yacht Club to sail (or learn to sail) Lightnings or Hobie Cats. Bring your own life jacket and sailing gloves. We enjoy biking and have our mountain bikes with road slicks here. We have done some road biking but mostly enjoy mountian biking in Idanre or IITA.

As I mentioned, you can get many items here but you just pay for it. I bring olive oil and canola oil in my shipment as it is very expensive here. Canned goods are more expensive but available. If you have a shipment, then bring some goods if you want but don't go overboard.

I will post more if I think of something else.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Camping at Wreck Beach

What a great night. Jonathan had planned a camping trip some time ago and it finally happened. We left the dock and headed to the beach about 3PM on Saturday arriving at 4PM. We had lots of gear and lots of help to get it to the beach (1 km walk). We hoped to find the village bale (chief) to ask permission to stay the night but he was not around. Hopefully he won't have a problem with it when we see him in the AM. Upon arrival I passed out about 20 pictures I had taken on previous trips and they were really pleased. A number of people were very happy that I brought them, which made me very happy.

Next we hit the waves on our boards (four boogies boards and one surfboard) and some of the sets were very big. It was exciting, as always.

About 6PM we set up our tents and started dinner. Everyone fended for themselves but there was enough food so much was shared. The locals gathered some firewood and grass to burn. The fire was nice and added to the atmosphere (ambiance), though the heat was not needed. The weather was comfortable but a bit wet and sticky. All were off to bed by 10PM.

Most rose by 7AM to get in a few rides before packing up and heading out at 9AM. I stayed dry and snapped some photos.

Local man from the village fixing his fishing net.

The village bale (chief).

We got home around 11AM with plenty of time to clean up and have a relaxing afternoon. It was a great trip but it would have been better if Bob had been there. He would have enjoyed it.