Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I have been on a personal losing streak lately. I won't go into too much details because these loses are tantamount to "First World Problems". But to me they are real. Okay, I will give one example (it applies to my story in a way).

Our driver has been out of commission lately due to health reasons. In addition to having issues upon issues with the guy on a regular basis, he has provided my no communication whatsoever. It's inconveniencing. Okay, like I said, it is basically a first world problem. Except that having a driver is necessary in this third world country if you can afford one.

Now, fortunately, the company has been allowing us to go to and from via it's boats. Nothing wrong with that except that now I am basically on their clocks as to how I schedule my movements (okay, shut it if you're thinking first world problem).

Today on the way to work, I saw something I'd never seen before. Either that or I had been fooled until today.

Vessel Scarecrows
*Picture was taken from an online search. I didn't get a chance to take a picture*

Hot Dog! How long has this been going on?

Okay so they look like humans but they are not. I suppose they are to ward off pirates but how's that fooling anyone? Okay, how's that fooling anyone besides me?

Why am I talking about this? Well, simply because I noticed just today after a whole year of boating the Lagos Lagoon.

During my online search, I found out that it's very common especially commercial vessels bracing the pirate infested waters of the Indian Ocean around Somalia.

So my life is boring, I get it. So you are basically stuck with anything I find interesting. I suppose you could stop reading but please don't.

Oh, one more thing. Looking through my audience in the stats portion of blogger.com, I seem to be attracting a few (maybe just a couple of) persons from Russia. Well, to whoever you are, though I wonder why, but nonetheless, thanks for your audience.

To everyone else...well, vaya con Dios.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Trip - Final Part

So it's taken me so long to get to this point but I will do my best to make it brisk as most of you are probably tripped out on words and pictures. If you aren't then, maybe it's me then.

That's not to say it wasn't fun. It's to say I am jealous of the us that went on that trip since I am currently NOT on vacation touring Europe.

We all came back Friday night from Rome. Flights all left on time and actually we made it into London about 30 mins early.

That evening Amy and I went to Westfield Mall in Shepard's Bush which is the largest mall I personally have ever been to. We went to see the Hunger Games at the movie theater there...largest screen I've ever seen a movie on.

On Saturday, we went to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge (last two places on our list). It was rainy and cold but after that, I think it was time to call it a wrap since Chris and Mary were leaving Sunday morning.
Tower of London - Instagram-ed!

It was sad to see them go. It had been a great few weeks.

Several countries visited, several miles worked...rooms, buses, trains, meals. Truly remarkable memories made.

Those suitcases look very timid, don't they? Little Devils.

Amy and I stayed a couple of more days. We attempted going to an Arsenal match but couldn't get tickets. Tuesday the 10th, we left London back for Lagos. Weird way to spend our second Anniversary but it beats KFC from last year.

Oh, props to the Sky Team Lounge at Heathrow Airport! Complimentary facials and massages (didn't partake due to lack of time), nice breakfast, Game consoles, desktops with internet access, wifi and every other standard lounge stuff.

Next time, I will be early to the airport.

I guess that's it. A bit anticlimactic but I'd like to not be dwelling on that since real life is at hand.

I am typically even keeled but I have to be honest, it's been a bit of a drag lately. Staying is harder as the days go by but we know it is right. I'd rather be in Pitt right now.

We've Skyped with a few people lately. It's not easy seeing the nieces and nephews growing up and you feel like you're missing out.

We knew the sacrifice it would be coming here. I just think we need a fix now i.e. a couple of weeks back in Pitt. But that's not going to be for a little bit.

Until then, I will see if I can keep bringing you updates. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Trip - Parte Terza

We've been back now a little less than a week. But it feels like mentally, I am not here yet. Having spent a year back now, I sort of know what to expect during seasons (not just weather but yeah weather as well) and knowing doesn't always prepare you.

I dread the rainy season approaching because of how much it REALLY affecting living in Lagos and working where we do.

Anytime we go on a trip outside Nigeria (Lagos, particularly), there's a jolt to your system when you return. And it take a few days just to adjust back to this reality.

So for a few moments, permit me to escape my reality and go to place that I thought was incredible in many ways. 

The Trip - Parte Terza (Italian for Part 3). 

So we left Madrid after a couple of days for Rome to reunite with Chris and Mary. 

But wait, it wasn't that easy. We chose Ryan Air - a low cost airline and I have to be honest, they would have to be at least $100 per ticket cheaper than everyone else for me to fly them again. What we went through was comical and I am sure the people watching security at the airport had a good laugh if they caught us on camera.

Now I know that's an unfair tease but it's too much to write on here. If you me personally, just ask when next you see me and I will indulge you in the gory details.  

Again...delayed flights had us there later than we planned but by the time we got there, it was good to see the rest of the Travel party. 

After waiting about an hour for our Bus ride, we spent about 40 minutes on said Bus to Termini, a major Bus/Train Depot. 

On the Bus ride, we saw really just how much history existed in Italy and we were in awe...old walls littered the place and yes there was a charm about it. We all felt it. To the regulars and it's residents, it may have been common but for us, wow! And that was just the ride. 

Now, I can go on and on about Rome but I will try to keep it short.

I count London to be one of my favorite cities in the world. But let me say that if I could speak Italian, Rome won't be too far behind. The weather was amazing and it was really the best part of the trip. 

We got into our Guest House after walking the 1.9KM from the Bus Terminal (we couldn't figure out the bus situation but thanks to google maps, my inlaws think I can find my way to the moon and back). The host couldn't have been more helpful.

As soon as we unloaded our stuff, we knew we had to start with the Pièce de résistance of all things Rome - Colosseo. I have to be honest, on the tram heading there, I had no idea what to think...

The Colosseum

My jaw dropped. It's situated in the heart of the city and it's imposing in every way. We got off the tram right in front of the structure. We had initially planned to see it the next day but none of us had any desire to wait. 

Inside the Colosseum

Thankfully we bought Roma Passes which gave us access without waiting for in line and my did the chills run through my body and we strolled in. "This is where scores of Christians were martyred!" I thought to myself. 

In it's day, the Colosseum hosted 80,000 people - and you could picture it as you toured. 

A typical Post-Gladiator Battle Conversation

Amy in Awe
Once we were done, I looked at the time and the map and decided we had to go to the Vatican that same evening. Everyone else obliged and 45 minutes later, we were in the City State within a City. 

Preparations during Holy Week

St. Peter's Basilica

They seem happy to be there
 We walked around and agreed to come back the following day. I felt like a little kid though...being there at night! Amazing. They had already set up chairs for all the Easter activities.

Interesting Outfit for a Security Guard
The next day, when we got to the Vatican, the ground swell of people had begun and lines to go into St. Peter's Basilica stretched too far for the eyes to see. We had to see the Sistine Chapel (Capela Sistina). 

Just then, we stumbled into a guy who said he can get us in on a guided tour to do all we wanted to do for 35 Euros each which will also help us bypass the lines. It was a no brainer. 

The Groundswell at the Vatican
Our tour guide Silvio was nice, energetic and seemed to be in love with two things - Roman History and Cigarettes. Nonetheless he did a fantastic job especially when we got to the Sistine Chapel. There, he was completely silent. 

Silvio at the beginning of the tour

More Silvio

That Awesome moment when you walk into the Sistine Chapel and look up
We needed that just to wow at the sheer brilliance of Michelangelo.   

More of the ceiling and wall

 After that, we made our way to the third piece of History we wanted to see and that was the Pantheon. 

The Pantheon

Now let me say this, if you plan to visit Rome for only a short time i.e. 2 or 3 days, pick just a handful of places and things to go to and see/do otherwise, you'll realize that anything less than a couple of weeks just isn't enough. 

I haven't even talked about the food...from the nice Mama (as we called her) who's restaurant we stumbled into before we found our guest house to the nice couple by the Vatican with the non tourist prices and the Pizzarito Pastarito we had our last supper (coincidentally on Holy Thursday as well)...muah, bravo. I would return to all those places in a heart beat and Rome, I assure you this, if the Lord wills, I will be back!  

Mama's Kitchen
Mama's food offerings

Thanking God for Mama!
Pizzarito Pastarito

I have hundreds of more pictures but I thought I'd stop at this. I have a massive album on Facebook for those who are friends with me on there. 

The worst part of the trip was when we tried casual dinning at what seemed to be a hot spot. It took forever for them to seat us and we certainly were treated like foreigners that didn't have any business being there. And the food was eh...

We did learn in that experience that eating out in Rome isn't about food. It's about well...eating out. It's an event. People are there for hours and they order starters...after that, go out and smoke. Then main course, and go smoke...you get the picture. 

We left Rome Friday afternoon for London where we would spend the rest of our time. But that I'll leave for the fourth and final part of the trip.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Trip - Segunda Parte

FYI, Segunda Parte is Spanish for Part Two. That's for those who are curious but don't want to ask anyone. Rather than update the previous post with pictures from London, I have decided to add them to this one. Here are a few of them.

A brother Beefeater? Why not?!

Front View of the Buckingham Palace

I was just being silly

Trafalgar Square

Countdown to London 2012 @ Trafalgar Square

Westminster Abbey

Okay there were many more pictures as most of you who are friends of mine of Facebook can see but I can't post all of them here.

So back to the trip. It was early Monday morning when Amy and I said our goodbyes to her parents. Well, it was more like "see you in Rome". We audibled based on the misstep by the Irish Embassy and chose Madrid to go spend our Euros.

We'd both never been to Spain and to be honest we would have rather flown to Barcelona but Madrid was less expensive both to fly into and out of to Rome.

It was warmer in Madrid and definitely warmer than Dublin which we found out had freezing rain...burr.

We liked Madrid. It's really not a tourist destination of note and isn't really marketed as one. It's more of a Cosmopolitan City and it's main attractions for tourists are the Palacio Real de Madrid (The Royal Palace of Madrid) and Puerta Del Sol (and la Plaza Mayor which is close to Puerta Del Sol).

The people were friendly and warm and getting around was much cheaper than London.

We started by checking out Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun) and it was something else! It reminded me of Oxford Street or Piccadilly Circus in London. Lots of people and acts going on at the same time.


We toured Palacio Real de Madrid for ten euros each which I thought was an absolute steal! Hey Spain, let me help you with some of your financial issues - Double the prices of all your tourist attractions! I thought they were too inexpensive. 

Much bigger than the picture shows

Funny hats
We had very good food in Madrid. Although at one point we almost ate at what can only be described by myself as a Spanish Applebees *shudder*. One of their main dishes is Paella (rice based dish). 

Paella on my plate and Soup on Amy's
Amy had to pull me away from this awesomeness
On our last evening there, we went off script with the food to check out the highly rated restaurant "Home Burger Bar". Recommended for Americans...why not? 

911 Burger named for its Spiciness

An espresso to wash it down

Other things of note we spotted was "Mullet Dreads" as Amy called the look. Mullet Dreads, please if you are reading this, I respect the look and it was Amy who made me take the picture. I am sharing your do with world so that maybe it catches on.

One more thing. I do want to commend the hotel we stayed at for being fabulous. If you go to Madrid, stay at Hotel Nuevo Boston. It's close to the airport but getting around isn't hard to do in this city. 

If you need any tips on getting around Madrid as a tourist, let me know...I think we did what we could albeit in a small way to stimulate the Spanish economy. 

Rome will be covered next.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Trip - Part I

Obviously there's lots to catch up on but the truth is that I am not sure where or how to start. I will just start typing away and see where it goes....

Well, already I have changed the title multiple times. I think what I will do is divide it all up into parts which will allow me to fit a few pictures in without the overload.

We've been in Nigeria for a whole year! So much has happened to us and we have been challenged in more ways than we imagined. Our relationship with God and with each other has equally been challenged in many ways.

We moved here around our 1st year anniversary and now it will forever be linked together and each year we spend here will also mark another year we are as husband and wife...enough of all that.

A year ago yesterday, we were celebrating our 1st anniversary at KFC (I know, lame) but we had just moved into our apartment and we were exhausted and KFC seemed like the only option. This year, we initially planned a 4 city tour of Europe to mark our second anniversary...London, Dublin, Paris and Rome.

In the course of the times that followed, we decided take care of Paris in January and the rest over Easter. Then as we planned, it would come to our knowledge that the Irish Embassy in Nigeria sucks! For one they take up to 8 weeks to make a decision on visas.

8 WEEKS!!! Now, this minor rant is not geared towards the Irish people (thanks for taking care of my inlaws) but perhaps towards the Immigration arm of your government AND the Irish Embassy in Nigeria.

*Minor Rant* Dear Irish Embassy, most Nigerians don't care about going to Ireland...seriously. Why you would deny me a visa...someone under duress to take his part Irish wife and parents to your country. I would have spent a fortune in your extremely shaky economy i.e. flights, hotels, meals, other "stuff" that we could buy. But you accused me of wanting to stay and not come back. Guess what, I am a US Permanent resident with a 5 year British visa and 2 separate Schengen visas!

Why would I choose cold cold cold Ireland to run to? Ever heard of Barcelona, Madrid, London, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Milan, Rome, Pittsburg, KS, Chicago, and the dozens of other happening cities that are options to relocate to. Dublin? Really? Just yesterday on the flight from Amsterdam, I read that ole' Ireland is struggling financially especially with their restaurants et al...guess what? I like FOOD! I spent more on Food than anything else. *Minor Rant Over*

Sorry for all that. I have more to say but I have to keep this clean.

So Thursday the day we were leaving for our Eurotrip, I flew to Abuja to retrieve my passport from the Irish Embassy and got back to Lagos to meet up with Amy and her parents Chris and Mary (who were accompanying us on the trip). My parents were also leaving for the States to see their kids and grand kids. 

At the airport we said our goodbyes and headed for different parts of the world. Now I had to be the tour guide in London because I have frequented her many times in my life.

Let me apologize now that these are just pictures on my phone...when I get the ones on the camera off it, I will replace and include them accordingly.

View of Greater London from it's London Eye

Amy hanging above London's Big Ben (House of Parliament)

Buckingham Palace...better Pictures to follow

St. James's Park on the Side

Had to Check out the Emirates of course

This is dedication

So these pictures suck but I didn't know that till I started typing. I will get better ones.

A few things of note....

- From the moment we checked into our Hotel Apartment, we left it and hit the sights because no one wanted to waste any time. 

- We ate at a Vegetarian Restaurant. I repented...we all did. We didn't know it was meatless. I was duped. Amy's hunger led us astray. Luckily there was a KFC next door to redeem ourselves and we took advantage of it.

- We tried to visit a lot of places in a few short days but there was so much to do and so little time. But we hit up Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Eye, Emirates Stadium and some shopping of course.

- The London weather was typical...50's, some rain and little sun

- For their first visit to London, I think they all did okay. I didn't lose any of them on the Underground 

- On Monday, Chris and Mary left off for chilly Dublin, Ireland and Amy decided to join me to head to Madrid, Spain (which I will talk about during the next blog).