Monday, December 12, 2011

Pitt Stop! And Florence, AL for the Weekend?

Harmattan season is upon us and for those (most of you) who don't know what that is, just click on the link for more details. But basically, it marks the dry season which occurs between November and March. One of the trademarks is that its winds come from the Sahara desert and brings with it lots and I mean lots of dust. In the mornings, it looks just like fog but it is not. If you don't wash your car daily, it would look like you haven't washed it in days. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration but not far from reality. In the mid mornings, you can stare directly as the sun because there is a haze (dust) that makes it possible without hurting your eyes. 

The Sun behind the dust
A bit of haze overlooking the Loading Gantry

So I guess instead of a white Christmas, we get a dusty one. Speaking of Christmas, the countdown to departure continues and I am doing just about anything I can to prevent Amy from crashing her head into the ceiling in excitement and I am running out of options. I’ve tried bribing her, shame, bets…I just can’t seem to calm her down. But who can blame her really. The only thing I am not looking forward to is sub zero temperatures but I am good with just about anything else. All in all, I am ready for a Pitt Stop. 

While I’m on the topic of Pittsburg, I would like to give a big shout out to the Pittstate Gorillas, my alma mater! Our Football team is heading to Florence, Al for the DII National Championship coronation game. Unfortunately I missed all season in person although I caught a bunch of the highlights and watched them absolutely shred Northwest in the Quarter Finals! I had hopes for them after the first game of the season but Natl. Championship game? Consider me pleasantly surprised. It now leaves me in a bit of a conundrum. Do I make the trip to Florence? Or do I watch it on TV? I am yet to decide but it’s right now 50-50 and if any of the Chip Travis tailgate crew is planning a trip, I need informed ASAP. 

With that, I will leave you with a few pictures from my weekend...

Heading home for the weekend via my preferred route

Lagos (Nasty) Lagoon
Crashed a birthday party for a Lebanese guy

Many International Guests

Several roasted pigs. I missed out because I had to run...
Update! Looks like I have successfully made tentative plans to get to Alabama for the Game! I am excited about it and obviously being able to have a break with all my peeps in the 'burg!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bridging the Gap through Technology

So I've been thinking about home a lot for obvious reasons...well, if they aren't that obvious, they include the fact that we missed Thanksgiving and the fact that we will be home (Pittsburg, KS) in the next few weeks. That said, I am glad we live in a time like this where technology can help bridge the distance between friends and family. Thanks to the fact that all my siblings and one in-law have iDevices, the options of what app to use are aplenty! Lately, we've FaceTimed with Henry and Donovan, out nephews and what's becoming apparent is Henry's love of seeing his reflection on the screen. It has resulted in me taking pictures which are candid and loveable!

Henry and Donovan
Donovan below is putting forward his attractive smile while Henry is focused on hypnotizing us.  

I am convinced that Henry believes he has magic powers

Of course there's the loveable and completely adorable (pun intended) Adaora just after she woke up once whom we definitely don't see enough of.

See our silly bent heads
I honestly wish I could take more pictures of Henry when we is quite the hilarity. He has a sharp mind and sometimes I am surprised at his quick responses including telling us we couldn't follow him on an adventure because it would take too long.

Henry at Aunty Nnene's during Thanksgiving

How apps have changed Communication
So in less than 3 weeks...the in person interactions will be priceless but for now, we will continue to try to use technology to bridge the gap so that out of sight doesn't have to be the norm.

Oh, one more piece of news...It appears Amy and I will be going to France in January on our way back! Amy is excited and all I can't think about is; How's the weather going to be?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'll be home for Christmas (God-willing)...

It took 234 days after coming back to Lagos before I actually got the chance to see and spend some time with my maternal Grandmother. Just so that you know, she is the sweetest lady in the whole world. Case in point, she barely speaks any English but she learned enough sentences and called me on my birthday to wish me a happy birthday and as how I was doing. Little did she know that I has armed myself with Igbo and so I responded in Igbo and she was surprised and thrilled. Truth be told, I understand my native language much better than I can speak it. Anyway, one of my Uncles who lives in Mozambique came to town for the next month so we decided along with my mother to swing by and there she was. I missed seeing her smile and generally being around her.

She turns 83 this year and since the celebration is over Christmas, Amy and I will miss it. Which brings me to my next point...Amy and I will be home for Christmas (God willing) and I can't wait to see everyone especially all the kids. It feels like its been so long and that is because it has. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so let me wish you all in the States, a Happy Thanksgiving. It will be the second straight we've missed out on the Turkey feasting and I'm bummed to say the least but I will survive. I guess I could do without all the feast right now since I am fat. Of all the things I am looking forward to heading back, I am not looking forward to the cold and I definitely have no interest in snow so dear God, I pray that it snows well enough before we get there and clears off and then it can resume after.

Well, that's pretty much it. Here are some other pictures that made it out of Ghana.

Well, again, I bid you Happy now have 38 days to stuff your face before your New Year's Resolution starts...which means you have 51 days before your 2012 New Year's Resolution fails.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ghana: Our more responsible younger brother...

Having spent many years of my life in Lagos, Nigeria, it always seemed a bit odd to me that I had never been to Ghana save for a 2005 Alitalia flight that briefly stopped over in Accra. So when the opportunity arose for Amy and I to do so, we jumped at it. Originally, we have discussed going to Dubai but when that fell through, any alternatives were welcome. Ayo, a childhood friend of mine as well as his Ghana based business partner were so gracious and took care of all the planning and preparation. Initially, we were supposed to spend Sunday night in Accra, but plans changed and as soon as we landed, we were whisked away by car for about a 100miles westward down the coastline til we got to a sleepy fishing village called Ada, just off the Atlantic Ocean.
Amy and Ayo being very social with their mobile devices at the aiport

It was dark so we didn't see much nor did we know what to expect. Once we arrived, our host, a friend of my friend had sent a boat to pick us up and take us to his private island about a mile away nicknamed Tampa. When we got to Tampa, we almost mistook it for a UN convention due to the amount to nationalities there. It was amazing - Countries represented include USA, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Spain, Ghana and of course Nigeria. Meeting so many new people from different places actually made us feel very much at home! There was food everywhere and soon after we had started a nice bonfire, some local fishermen paddled their boat over with a large Barracuda they had just fished out. Mounib, Ayo's business partner and now my brother from another father and mother purchased it for lunch the following day. We all just hung out by the fire exchanging stories and having.

Cool Breezy Evening begged for a Fire
The following day, Mounib gave us a tour of the community by water. Lots of beautiful homes and had we not come there by road, we won't have believed this was in Africa. The locals were so very nice and they seemed very content as well. After breakfast we went out to the beach and my, was it the epitome of "unspoiled beaches". Later than morning, Amy and I tried wakeboarding...she passed, I failed. I did get a fair share of sea water in my system. To cut all the story short, we spent the next day eating a lot of jet skiing. Made me miss my old motorcycle. It was powerful and once I saw at what speed Amy was pushing that thing around, I knew I would be going as fast as I could. Now, I want one!

Not to the locals...
We came with our game faces
Mounib giving us a tour
Ayo scoping out the scenery
Someone's Large Vacation Home
Left to Right: Ayo, Yolanda (Mexican), Amy and Ugo
The first batch taking off to the Beach
Oh, the Atlantic...
Fun Faces still on
Off the front Porch of our Host Rustom's Island Home
Now she wants one...
Now I want one...
By noon Tuesday, we went back to Accra and I was very impressed with the current development structurally going on in that city. Ghana as a country has a lot of tremendous potential and Accra as a city just might be the place to be to start a business. Lots of opportunities that right now are mostly being controlled by foreigners which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But I would love to see more Ghanians partner with the foreign money and grow their middle class. I am rooting for Ghana, our seemingly more responsible younger brother. At night, the streets were alive with a blend of locals and foreigners and for a city, it appeared to be very safe. I wouldn't dare be out past 9pm in Lagos but in Accra, we were out till midnight.
Departing Ada
Part of the Country Side

We were to depart Wednesday at 12.55pm but Ayo and I stopped by one of his project sites by the airport and thinking we had plenty time, we stayed there conducting business. But alas! that decision to linger caused us to miss our flight. Because for the first time in history, a flight in Africa leaving for Nigeria actually left on schedule. We re-booked for the evening flight and hung out for the rest of the afternoon at the Holiday Inn by the airport. We then showed up for our evening flight very promptly and of course it departed an hour late. On arrival, Amy got a bit sick at immigration but she's doing well now. Other than that little bit of hitch (well, and the flight issue), we had a marvelous time and are very grateful to all the people that made it so.

Ghana, I will be back (God willing)...we made some good friends and being only a 45 minute flight, there's no reason why we couldn't go there again on short holidays so I guess it is "see you later" after all. The next holiday is not till Christmas for which I can say (God willing), "I'll be home for Christmas."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy (secular context) Halloween! AND Ghana for the weekend?

Halloween isn't a holiday celebrated here outside the...well, rich and well traveled as well as expats from Western Countries. You see, witchcraft here is no laughing matter. The spiritual is real and taken very seriously here. That said, many people here have probably never even heard of Halloween. So Happy (again, secular) Halloween is being directed at friends at home. Be sure to post numerous pictures of your fancy costumes. 

Well, as some of you know, I recently just turned 28 which strikes me as very odd. Amy did an excellent job making it a special day. She woke me up to breakfast - Blueberry Pancakes and scramble eggs on wheat toast! Yum. She got me a Starbucks cup and some coffee as well. I also got other gifts from my parents and a close friend of mine. We even got to go home before 7pm to have some delicious carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. All in all, it was a really good day and kudos to Amy for making it happen. One knock on Amy's birthday achievement is the card...butt ugly! But her excuse was that options were lack...bla bla bla...I think it was payback for not getting her a card on her birthday. 

Birthday Breakfast!

My Birthday Card from Ames

My Mom sent a cake as well!
Also in the last couple of weeks, Amy and I are once again a proud Aunt and Uncle as the Postericks welcomed a baby girl, Emma Joy and I am sure I will also have to fill the role as her favourite Uncle and of course it's a role that I am used to. But this is about the Posterick Family! And this is on the cusp of them opening Signet Coffee Roasters. So Mazel Tov all around.

I think that's all I have to share. I feel like I should have more but I apparently don't. I mean I could grip about the conditions of the roads that keep us in traffic for 3,4,5, hours going home (a ride that should last just 30 minutes). In fact, my single biggest challenge everyday is how to get home safely BUT God is in control and so far, we are doing well. The rains came back for October and they have been worse that the July rains...hard to imagine but it's true. They aren't as frequent but they are heavier. The good news is that the dry season is about to start and we should be good till May next year. 

Oh, there is one more keeping with having a bunch of holidays every year, we are set to have another 2 days off, next week to celebrate the Muslim holiday Eid-el-Kabir. I don't know a whole lot about it. All I know is that we get some days off and if Amy can get a visa this week, we will be heading to Ghana by God's grace. I also know that there are Rams everywhere for sale. So hopefully on my next blog, I'll have pictures from the Gold Coast.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Happy 51st Birthday = Heightened Security...and a Walmart Sighting?

Today is October 4th which means I am 4 days late in wishing this (as some would put it) overgrown baby of a country, my country Nigeria, a Happy 51st birthday. Well, it is more of an anniversary of Independence really because the country itself was actually formed (politically as a state) I believe in 1912. Now before all the questions of fireworks and patriotic displays start, I just want you to know that we aren't into all that. Sure there's a parade and we get the day off work and school, well, in this case we got the 3rd of October off because the 1st was a Saturday but that's where most of the comparisons with the 4th of July end. Well, that was until recently...

We now share a sense of elevated security around special dates. Now for full disclosure, since Boko Haram became a house hold name here after several attacks in the North, security has gradually and steadily increased around Lagos especially witnessed at the airport. Recently it has been witnessed even closer to home. For those who don't know (and without giving specifics to the actual location), we live close to the Embassies of many countries and one in particular with perhaps the most to lose in the event of a "sitiation" is the US Embassy. On Sunday, Amy and I went on a walk around the neighborhood, something we hadn't done in a while and lets just say, it looks like perhaps, our street is a tad bit safer. Now we had noticed extra policing of the waters around us when using the boat home but I hadn't noticed the streets yet. I would love to share a pictures with you but to avoid looking like a scout, I only took 3 of the exact same thing and I will share one.  

Hopefully the picture speaks for itself. Now incentive to put down my photography equipment a.k.a. my phone was the presence of at least 3 dozen uniformed and armed personnel roaming the streets. I was cordial and glad Amy was with me or I reckon I would have been questioned a few times considering the fact I was wearing mostly black. To some, it might be unsettling to see so much fire power in less than a half a mile walk but it didn't bother me. For me, it means that if all you want is to break in and grab my TV or the two Naira I have on my night stand, you would be walking into a hornets nest. 

We also witnessed something during our day off that made Amy smile and I must admit, it gave me a taste of home. Some of you more financially conscious in terms of what corporations are doing around the world may know that earlier this year Walmart was given the go ahead to finalize their acquisition of South African based retailer, Massmart. Massmart is also a parent company of a retail outfit (Game) with presence in Nigeria, specifically, the Palms Mall at Lekki where we stopped by yesterday. While looking for battery backup for Amy's treadmill, we saw this...


Well, as it is said here, Walmart, you are welcome!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I have this recurring dream where I wake up each day and I am in Lagos, Nigeria and I realize, I need to do a better job keeping everyone in Pitt up to date on what’s going on here and then I don’t! Wait, that’s not a dream, that’s my reality and I apologize to those who eh…well, for anyone interested in my blabber.

Alright, when I was last here, Amy was leaving me for Canada to attend Eddine’s wedding so I had to “Bach” it for a few days. It was a bit strange but I think it went well. She left on Wednesday, August 31st and was to return Monday evening, September 5th. After that, we were both scheduled to fly out September 6th i.e. the very next day to Houston for a summit. But alas, these things never go according to plan. But I am getting ahead of myself.

It ended up being quite eventful while Amy was gone. My boss celebrated his 40th birthday that weekend. Unfortunately, the mood among staff during that weekend was dampened due to the sudden and surprising death of one of our colleagues on Saturday, the 3rd of September. It was quite sad especially since she had left a positive impression on most people who knew her including myself. She was young and what ailed her was sudden and under many circumstances in developed nations, she may have been spared but our medical system here leaves lots to be desired.

Back to Amy’s tale…so I got a call Sunday night from Amy letting me know that she won’t be able to make it in from D.C. until Tuesday evening due to a flight cancelation! Wait…I know what you are thinking. Isn’t that the day we are to go to Houston? Yes…it was and yes, it would mean another transatlantic flight for Amy in less than 6 hours. Wait, I know what you are thinking now…why didn’t she just fly from D.C. to Houston? *Sigh* I would love to answer that, but this post is already going to be long as it is…

Needless to say, I got an email from Amy itemizing everything I was to pack for her so that I wouldn’t leave anything out. But what she didn’t realize is that I had two surprises so I had to pack a little extra and trust me, in my less than 2 years of marriage, this was one of my toughest assignments yet.

Luckily she got in to Lagos albeit a little late and we went right back to departures and checked in and right before that, I let her know about the first surprise…we will be flying business class.

*NOTE* I typed up at least another page of information after this and the power just flickered. Unfortunately, I am/was using a desktop with no battery backup. So not cool…so I guess you’ve been spared since there’s no way I am typing all that again. So the rest of this will be brief.

We were given Sky Lounge passes (since we were flying in class) and if you haven’t flown out of the Lagos airport, you won’t understand the value of those! It was in there I handed Amy the second surprise of the evening…her birthday present- A 3 day and 3 trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves a little later. Now, I had debated a 3 day and 3 night trip to Pittsburg (I actually did) BUT we’ve had little time to ourselves since we temporarily quasi relocated here. It was a winner.

Well, it was nice to be back in the States and Houston was very convenient since Ben and Juan (two of my siblings) live there. So we finally got to tour Juan’s Palace…sorry Castle a.k.a. The Nwagwu Place @ Houston. While we stayed at the St. Regis for most of the working days we had there, we were hosted by Juan for 3 nights which we do appreciate.

We are back now…trying to get back into the swing of things. Can’t wait to be back in Pitt in exactly 80 days (by God’s grace). Can’t wait to see you all again and meet Emma Joy Posterick (seems like whenever we leave, someone pops out a kid…hmmm). *I just saved this note for the 21st time*. Until then, I will try to do a better job staying in touch. If you are bored and want to visit, we will love to have you. If you are tired of your governement, we will also love to entertain you here...hehe. Enjoy PVR PIX. Oh…just a warning, the pictures were taken with a phone camera because I forgot ours again…

Kerri, I thought of you when we walked in here - Houtson, TX
Amy ready for a little R&R

Need I say more...yes, I say more - Delicious!

Romantic Perhaps? I don't know how to judge these things

Sunset on Puerto Vallarta

Already ordering room service

As delicious as it was beautiful

The beautiful as it is in my dreams

They played while the resort treated us to a Mexican Independence Day Special

PS: Due to all the travel activities we've engaged in this year, we are now both SkyTeam Gold Medallion Members!