Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lockdown IV: The Final Lockdown

So here we are again...another lockdown. This is Lockdown IV a.k.a The Final Lockdown a.k.a. Recovery Tuesday. The is the fifth day of a 5-Day weekend. It's been a good one. I think it has been the most productive weekend. I set out a list of things to accomplish...so let's see how I did.

- Today, get Amy a treadmill - Check and she's already used it!
- Today, go to a Broadway Production (FELA, VIP Seats that cost a small fortune) - Check and it was quite spectacular although I would consider it a Tragedy
- Tomorrow, host parents - Check. They came, they saw and they liked...
- Tomorrow, get a hair cut - Check. I am bald again
- Sunday, finally GO TO CHURCH! - This is a semi check because we did make it to church but because I was misplaced while driving, we were uber late. Late enough that people had started leaving :(
- Sunday, Dinner with Parents and maybe meet cousin's new kid - Check and Check although we got to go see the kid on Saturday as well. I didn't even ask what they named him. BBM Time.
- Monday, BEACH! - Check...more on that later
- Tuesday, sleep and get ready for work. - Check i.e. a work in progress.

So I guess I did get a few things accomplished. We also found another grocery store called Spar. I believe it is Amy's new favorite because she said that about 20 times. If I didn't know any better, I would think Wal-Mart owns the place because it sure had the sense and feel of a Sam Walton store. Nevertheless, it had the most options of any store we've been to so far. That's what we did Saturday night so another accomplishment.

On Easter Monday though, I did wake up with a stomach cramp and then I realized it was probably due to some kind of food poisoning. That threatened our plan trip to the beach with 4 other friends. Two of which are former classmates of mine. Around the time I was going to call in and cancel our companionship, I was able to em..."up-chuck" the contents of my stomach and I felt significantly better.

I hadn't planned on driving once we go to our departure zone which is about 20 mins from our apartment sans traffic, but I was nominated because I had a bigger vehicle I guess. The beach we went to was called La Campagne Tropicana. It is at least 75 miles from V.I. down the Lagos State Coastline so it took us a while to get out there but once we did, it was relaxing and a lot of fun. We of course forgot our cameras but I think the others brought picture taking devices and pictures will be forth coming when we get them.

It was nice to relax and even go walking on the beach with Amy. The waves were huge, a surfers dream but we managed to get wet despite the perceived dangers of the strong currents. Well, that's about all I guess I can say about all that. We made it home and tried to get to bed at a decent hour. Amy has pretty much been sleeping ever since.

Well, it is back to work tomorrow and I have been warned that it will be a long day. I need to get a driver soon because I am pretty sure I am not confident driving at night yet in Lagos but I will do what I can I guess tomorrow.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Goodluck and Good Friday. And do you know what a 5 Day weekend Means?

Good Friday to you all! My it's great to have a day off that doesn't involve a lockdown. Wow, those things are obnoxious. Wait, what? There's another one coming? Stinky...oh well, I think we will live.
Again, Good Friday to anyone reading this. I think Easter is the most significant season on the calendar whether you are Christian or not because if you are saved, it's about how you got saved and if you aren't, it's about why you need to be. I am ever grateful for the blood that was shed for me so lets all acknowledge the reason for the season...and the reason for all seasons, Jesus. I pray that He is in true form will be all my reasons. Amen.

Well, Goodluck Jonathan finally contested and won an election and in one half of the country, there was parties on the streets and in the other half, violence. The Northern half is still trying to cope with the fact their candidate lost and I am just happy that for the first time in my life, the story about the actual elections isn't fraud so I'll take the step in the right direction. While I truly didn't have any dog in the fight, I am not convinced that President Jonathan is Mr. Right (or any of the other guys for that matter) but he is Mr. Right Now and that's good enough for us and I pray God leads and guides him. 1 Peter 2:17 says "Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government." 

It's been an interesting and short week. It's been busy but I think we got a few things done. We have had a few challenges along to way as to be expected but God's grace really is sufficient. Our AC almost exploded one night while we slept but alas, we survived. Amy got her new office and it looks like her little bit of Paradise which makes me happy. When ever anyone asks how I am doing her, I say, ask Amy and if she's good, then I am good. She's a trooper and everyday I feel luckier that she said yes.

I did finally get a phone and a new line or so I thought and with the challenges I have had so far with it, I now appreciate AT&T wireless (not you DSL Service because I am mad at you) ever more. Globalcom a.k.a. sucks! And if you are reading this and you work for them...I want my money back. Okay, I am done with that.

We are now mobile. Yes we now have a vehicle although that itself came with a bit of drama. I had the guy delivering it to our apartment come this morning and he decided to show up at 4am which was fine (he warned me he'd be early). Well, he called and I grabbed a set of keys to head to the parking lot and as soon as I shut the door to the apartment, I realized I had grabbed to wrong set of keys. So I hung out with him and security for about half an hour because I didn't want to ring the doorbell and wake Amy up...finally I did but she didn't wake up. I am grateful the security guard had N14 (10 cents) remaining on his cell phone credit which was just enough to make the call and she came and opened the door for me.

Well, we have a 5 day weekend like I mentioned...Good Friday through Easter Monday and Elections on Tuesday! Can you imagine 5 days off and do you know what that means as well? Only a 3 day work week next week! Well, maybe I will actually blog a few times this week. So here's my to do list for the weekend...

- Today, get Amy a treadmill
- Today, go to a Broadway Production (FELA, VIP Seats that cost a small fortune)
- Tomorrow, host parents
- Tomorrow, get a hair cut
- Sunday, finally GO TO CHURCH!
- Sunday, Dinner with Parents and maybe meet cousin's new kid
- Monday, BEACH!
- Tuesday, sleep and get ready for work.

Somehow in between, I need to find a driver...interested?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lockdown 3- The Presidential Election and a 5 day weekend?

So technically today isn't Lockdown 3 but it is the day after and I was so busy yesterday that I didn't have time to give any updates. Actually it has been a fairly busy past few days and we've come up against many living situational challenges but we know God is in control.

Here are a few of the living situational challenges-

Transportation- Now, I know you have the the boats and how fun that may be and you'd be right. In fact we did take a different boat to work Friday (Casual Friday). It was more of a recreational boat that the other two we had been on and it wasn't easy to get to working after that. But the boat obviously can't get to the grocery store or to the mall and this is where having a Vehicle comes in handy. Yes it is stating the obvious but the result of that challenge is that there is very little food in the house and that's if you count the bag of Candy Amy has in the Fridge. More importantly, it is Sunday morning right now and going to Church is obviously not happening because I don't know of any church we could access by boat.

Sleeping- Well last night, the best we were sleeping on decided to collapse underneath us which was funny not in isolation but based on everything we had been running into yesterday as you will read below.

Washer- Our washer decided to leak and it basically flooded the Guest Bedroom and it took me two hours to mop the water off the floor. This happened as the power continued to flicker due to a storm that was going on at the same time.

Later today, we will be going to work so we can get a few things done. Hopefully we can also sort out the missing vehicle so that maybe we can get some food in this house. Although I did find out how we can do without getting a cook and actually eating home style cooked meals...the Company Cafeteria! They cook different meals every day and the prices are very very reasonable. I can feed us for $4 and they deliver to the office.

The lockdown did give Amy a chance to finally stretch her legs and run. A childhood friend of mine invited us to spend Friday and Saturday with he, his wife and 2 year old son and they live in a nice estate about 2 hours away with traffic and 30 mins without. It felt like a really nice retreat and Amy is now burnt to a crisp because she forgot to pack suncreen :). Till next time, thanks for reading!

One last thing...next weekend, starting on Friday, we have a 5 day weekend...yes, you read right, 5 DAYS! Sunday is Easter so with Good Friday and Easter Monday as well as Lockdown 4 on Tuesday for more voting, we have 5 days off....now what to do with that? BEACH!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Living in Paradise

I should probably be headed to bed which is where Amy is but I am quite sleepy yet so I thought I would give a brief update. Like I mentioned, I am sure as time goes on, it will turn into something I have to constantly remind myself to do so I am apologizing ahead of time.

We moved in on Sunday which was the same day my folks left the country seeking political asylum in the UK...okay, that's a joke. Well, the part about asylum anyway. My parents left on business to London and we were thankful that one of their drivers (Ema which is short for Emanuel) was kind enough to shuttle us and all our stuff to Paradise. Yes, the apartments (or flats if you will) are called Paradise. I will refrain from any sarcasm. Ema was also kind enough to take us to the grocery store so we could get some cleaning supplies and food items so we don't starve since my folks had taken so good care of us while were there.

Well, sticker shock at the store (Shoprite) was a big issue and that's going to take some getting used to. The issue is that we live in the sort of neighborhood where people are willing to pay those prices. The worst part is that although I saw it coming, it's still hard to fully brace yourself for it. I mean $9 for a box of cereal was a bit much. Anyway, slowly but surely, I am sure we will buckle down and do what we have to do. We did find fresh milk but it isn't skim so Amy passed on that.

Something I should mention is that Sunday was also our 1st anniversary! I also pictured us in a foreign country close to the sea...I think I had Greece in mind but my lovely wife is so supporting and I owe her something much better than what she got for sticking around for a year. So we spent most of the day cleaning and trying to make this a home.

We were able to find another store called Goody's and Amy felt she was in heaven (ignoring the prices of course) because they had just about anything she could have wanted from the States. Of course all I could notice were the prices. For example, we found Bunny Tracks Ice Cream for  about $23. Yeah, I don't need it that badly.

Now before you get all bugged down about our one year anniversary romance plans, I did take Amy to the finest KFC I have ever been to in the world and we got some to go meals. A colleague was nice enough to let me use his car to procure the meal. I also got some sparkling grape juice to top up the occasion. So lets just say I still owe her big time. 

Please don't comment on our tired faces...
Over the past couple of days, Amy has done an unbelievable job of turning this into a home and for that I am really thankful. I for sure married up. Now our next step is to find a church we can serve. We are weighing several options including where my parents attend. We plan to attend a few over the next few weeks and find where got knits our hearts to. There really are many options but a preference would be something smaller so that we can plug in quickly. So please be in prayer for us that we find the right house of worship. Well, that's it for now. I will leave you with a few more pix I took on my commute today.
Now, I must shower and go to bed to get ready for another day. Until then, here's to living in Paradise.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lockdown 2: First Accident, Apartment Update and Pictures of Our Commute

It's election day again! Which means another lockdown but so far elections in large part seem to be going well. My parents also went out to vote this morning. They are unhappy they won't be around next weekend to vote in the Presidential Elections. They are off to London on business. Too bad there are no absentee ballots. I previously shared pictures of a major road during the shut down. Here's what it looks like early in the mornings before things get hectic.

Well, we made it through the week but Amy has spent a good chunk of the last 18 hours sleeping but hey, what's a good lockdown without catching up on sleep. I on the other hand have spent most of the afternoon trying to get her portable DVD player to work on her netbook and yes, I finally got it done. Now she can watch Matlock to her heart's content.

Back to my week...

To describe what driving or riding in a car in Lagos traffic is virtually impossible. You really have to see it, yet be in it to believe it. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. In fact sometimes, it's best to close your eyes (if you are riding) so that if you are involved in some fender bender or mild wreck, your body isn't so tense and thus reduces the effect of the said accident. Well, we were involved in our first accident this week. It happened Thursday on our way home from work. We had stopped during traffic and were rear ended by a "danfo" or minivan bus. We weren't expecting it which made the effects of the whiplash minimal. The damage to our vehicle was also minimal so no worries...

Another update is that we now have our apartment ready and we will be moving in tomorrow morning (which hopefully means before the end of the day) and maybe get a chance to finally unpack and begin the settlement process. I did ride over there to see it. Amy was busy so I tried to take pictures for her to em...enjoy.
Not to be so obvious but this is the kitchen

Living Room

Our Bedroom

View off the Patio

Large Patio

Now for those who don't know, we have opted to ride the boat to work to cut our commute whenever we can. I rode the boat during lunch back and forth when I went to check out our apartment and thought I should share which I will.

The US Embassy

Someone's Yatch

Traffic on my commute

More Traffic

Taxi service on my commute
Well that's it for now. I hope you all in Lagos got a chance to vote. And for you others elsewhere, have a pleasant Saturday. I believe I need to go pack up stuff to exit the parents tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Day 1 in the Bag and Day 2 at hand

I should warn you all...chances are that by the time things get going and we settle in, it may get harder to keep up with blogging but I will do my best. Right now, it's our second day here and we are sitting waiting in someone's office. I am not sure Amy has much to do today other than do all the HR stuff this morning. I have that to do as well but I also have a 10am meeting.

A little review on day one. We came in around 8.15am. We were dressed in our Sunday's best but it felt more like the first day of school.There wasn't as much traffic as I was expecting going from Maryland to Apapa and that was nice. I think we spent more time trying to get into the facilities that it took to get there. We got in and set up shop in a conference room since we didn't know what was going on. We also ran into a guy also starting today. He's Indian but has lived here since he was a kid and basically grew up here. Anyway, we spent most of the day waiting and at the end of the day, we were given our assignments "as in" what our official roles in the company would be. We were also taken around and shown where our offices will be and the people we will be working with. Sadly, Amy and I will be occupying different offices and worse different buildings. Who am I kidding? Amy is probably delighted because she's been spending every waking moment with me (sans the personal times if you catch my drift) and she's probably looking forward to it.

We finished at work late yesterday. I think we didn't leave for home till about 7.30 and unsurprisingly, that isn't too uncommon here. In fact we showed up this morning around 8.15am today and we walked into a ghost zone in the admin office. Looks like most people (unless meetings are scheduled) don't make it into the offices till around 9am which is actually our official start time. Needless to say, we will be learning how it works around here so that we don't stroll in too early or too late.

Since we don't have a car and driver situation figured out, we have been leaning on my parent's for both and they have been very generous with us. They are supposed to be leaving the country this weekend so I am hoping our place will be ready by then and we can just ride the boat to work. When we do get our offices ready and our apartment, I will be sure to share some pictures with you guys.

Amy is doing fine...in fact she's quite popular around here. I don't like sharing but everyone keeps referring to her as "our wife" and at some point, I am going to have to tell them to refer to her as Ugo's wife...wait, that happens as well.

I should probably go do something productive. I think we might go check out the apartment today and see what kind of progress has been made and try not to annoy anyone today. I should go get ready for my meeting. One more thing...I think Henry would love this place which the ships and boats and trucks of all types running around here.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Lockdown...False Start

There was a city wide (and probably a nationwide) lockdown to allow for the Nation Assembly Elections to take place. The lockdown was in place from 6pm Friday to 6pm Saturday. Now, due to the challenges a third world country faces with credible elections, it isn't a bad idea to restrict movement other than those voting. The lockdown turned Lagos into a virtual ghost town. 

This is a view of a Major Highway in the City

Different Section of the Highway...there's typically neck breaking Traffic

Some neighbors heading to the polls

Well, this was a test of my will to take more pictures. Moving on...I was tempted to go driving because it was probably as good a situation I would be brave enough to drive in here. My folks said if I had an emergency vehicle, I could probably get to Victoria Island in 7 minutes versus the 2+ hour drive it typically is. 
All that said, the elections did go on as planned. Apparently, the supply of voter cards et al. didn't show up till so late in the day for many places. It has been rescheduled for tomorrow. Now, I could go on and on and rip the electoral officials (INEC) for all this wahala (trouble) but all the TV stations are doing a good job of that.

So what does this mean for us? NO WORK TOMORROW!!! Cue the party hats! Whoohoo! I called my boss and he said not to show up and instead to relax. Actually, I am not that excited because I was ready to get going. But on the other hand, I think Amy and I will walk around the neighborhood so that can go around without fear of being run over by crazy drivers. Here's to a safe Lockdown II.

In other news, my cousin whom I mentioned had been sick for a couple of weeks is doing much better. His fever is down and looks like he will be discharged from the hospital anytime soon. Amy is probably his new favorite person since she shared some of her candy with him this afternoon.

Before I sign off for today, I want to mention that we went to church with my parents today and we were prayed for by the entire church although I think the pastor leading the prayer was slightly confused he prayed that we would have a safe trip back. I hope that is not a sign...lol. We think about our church family often and pray for you guys as well. Thanks for all your support.

Friday, April 01, 2011

First Impressions...wait, I grew up here...

Firstly I would like to apologize to anyone following this blog...I am horrible at taking pictures and Amy is worse. So if you see several posts without pictures to keep your ADD in check, I am really sorry. It was hard when I had to transition to reading books that don't have pictures...ugh.

Anyway, so that you all know, we made it safely to Lagos. It was a fairly uneventful trip unless you count the dude who could barely walk to the gate to make the flight because he was so drunk. The flight kiosk lady checking him in asked if he had too much to drink and his response was that it was the cigarettes he had been smoking...yeah, I think the Marlboro Man will have what you're smoking.

So we made in in at 3.30pm local time which was 20mins ahead of schedule and after we went through the customary welcoming party that is the Nigerian Immigration Service and customs, we met my Dad who was there to pick us up. We stopped by a hospital where one of my cousins has been sick for two weeks and been in there for 5 days (pray for him if you will). He's only 8 but I do believe in the power of healing and I believe God's going to finish what He's started..

By now some of you on Facebook have noticed that Amy's been a little upset and homesick already. There have already been some trying moments but we believe that everything will get sorted out in due time but I don't want to go into all the gory details right now.

A few things I didn't miss about Lagos
- Traffic- If traffic were a person, I would probably be burning for the amount of hate I'd have towards Traffic. At one point, Amy and I decided it would be faster to get out of the car and walk to our destination and have Joseph (my dad's driver) meet us at there. We were right.

- Power Outages- From what I understand, it hasn't been too bad lately because of the upcoming elections.

A few things I missed- Home made Nigerian food for breakfast, lunch and dinner and of course fresh Pineapple here. Amy said it right, it's a shock to find a bad one. Still haven't had any suya since I have been back which is some kind of record.

Tomorrow is parliamentary elections and there is a virtual lock down in the city by law so we will be spending all of tomorrow indoors. I guess it's a good thing I have the interwebs to keep us company. In fact, we were able to catch up on American Idol through our DVR thanks to Slingbox. I want to thank you all for the love and support you've shown us and we will continue to be in touch.