Detomo's Abroad

Detomos Abroad

Archive for September, 2008

The Ikoyi Club – 1938

September 29, 2008 12:08 pm

As one of our “horizon expanding” activities, we decided to take up the game of golf more seriously in Nigeria.  With the combination of close availability to a golf course, company-sponsored joining fees, and more available recreational time, we joined the only Golf Club in the area – The Ikoyi Club – 1938, a very famous and venerable organization celebrating its platinum anniversary this year.  On September 29th, 1938, the Club was founded with the merging of the European Club and the Lagos Golf Club.  Until 1976, the Club was run by Expatriates, but today, it is a shining example of diversity and inclusiveness.  It currently occupies 456 acres of prime real estate in the middle of Ikoyi Island, just blocks from our residence.  In addition to a full par-71 18-hole Golf Course with Driving Range, the Club boasts 3 swimming pools, a professional Table Tennis Arena, a Tennis Complex, a Snooker/Billiards Section, a Squash Court Complex, and various restaurants, meeting rooms, a library, gymnasiums, and weight room.

 

 

Joining the Ikoyi Club – 1938 starts with finding two full members, (full-members for at least 2 years), to sponsor you.  With their escort, one enters the Club’s Business Section and purchases a Preliminary Application Card for ~$65.  Upon completion of the Card by yourself and the Sponsors, one returns and is allowed to purchase a full Application Card for another ~$100.  Upon completion of this paperwork, and after securing approval from the Sports Section Chairmen, and after submittal with fees amounting to ~$6500, one becomes a Junior Member, (our current status).  We will remain Junior Members until being called with our Sponsor before the General Committee and being approved to become Ordinary Members.  Junior Members have all the privileges of the Ordinary Members except for voting rights.  However, full Ordinary Membership usually takes a number of additional months to secure.

 

With all memberships, use of all Club facilities is free – no green’s fees or facility charges.  Buckets of 50 balls at the Driving Range is only ~$1.75, and Caddies, (which are required), are only $5-$8 for a round of golf.  Drinks and food are extremely reasonable, even by U.S. standards.  To get started at the Golf Course, one must play 5 rounds with existing members to set a handicap, and then they are free to play whenever they so desire.  Since Julie is just beginning, she scheduled a set of lessons with the Club’s Golf Pro, Jacob.  She has started out with the more open-faced clubs, and is working her way up to the long irons and woods.

 

Overall, it’s really wonderful to get outside, away from the traffic and cement of Lagos, and into the greenery of the golf course and the dominant sounds of nature.  We plan to spend some hours there, at least a couple of days per week.

 

 

    Come join us for a round…

A Wild Time

September 20, 2008 2:03 am

We headed back to camp, sat on the porch and enjoyed a bottle of red wine together, and prepared for the coming rainstorm that was building in the distance.

 

The storm hit with strong winds and horizontal rain, forcing everyone in Nyumbu Camp to take temporary refuge in their tents.  After an hour’s downpour, the rain turned to a sprinkle, and we ventured outside to find the nearly dry creek at the base of our camp turned into a 40-foot wide raging torrent.  Zebra who find daily evening refuge in the security of the camp were caught looking forlorn on the other side stranded from their security.  Phillip, the Camp’s Manager, assured us that the water would recede in a couple of hours, and so it would.  At dusk, the camp directors moved the campfire into the headquarters tent, where our Maasai Guide and Assistant Manager, James, told us about growing up Maasai in Kenya.  James is a college educated young man with a wife and 2 young children who was raised in the area.  He dresses each day in native Maasai dress, but speaks perfect school English, and represents the blending of African tribal traditions with Western upward mobility.  At 7:30pm we adjourned to dinner, and afterwards, we reassembled around the campfire for the anticipated stories.  When eyelids grew heavy, we broke the camaraderie for bedtime, just in time to make our way to our tents amidst the roars and rumbles of lions on the plains on the other side of the river.  Sleep came, though more nervously then normal, as the echos of preditor lions filled the small valley for the next 10-15 minutes.

 

My eyes awoke with a start in the still blackness of night that surrounded us.  I could tell by the luminescence of my watch’s dial that it was only a little after 2:00am, and the crunching and stomping outside of the tent is what woke me.  Julie and I quietly rose and took a look out the screen into the moonlight, to see two Zebra almost within arm’s reach, feasting on the still wet grass around the tent.  We took comfort in knowing that they thought it was safe here, as we crawled back under the covers to fall asleep.

 

We rose just before sunrise, again, and took a walk around the sleepy camp to survey the night’s handiwork.  The river had receded to its normal trickle, and the sign of Zebra and Wildebeest around the camp was abundant.  We wandered back to our social campfire patio to sit with morning coffee, and were lucky enough to see a family of three Velvet Monkeys 30 yards away playing hide-and-seek with the local tree trunks.

 

Sadly, we made our final check out after breakfast, and said our goodbyes to the other guests and staff.  Phillip and James had made our short stay truly memorable, and we were sorry to have to leave.  We used the few extra hours that we had in Kenya to re-enter the Maasai Mara Park, and take one last Game Drive through the Reserve.  Given the rains of the night before, we stayed to the main roads, and took one last long look at the vistas of over 10,000 animals that filled our small horizon.  In the distance were the ever present Elephants  and Giraffes, and we came upon two new groups of Ostrich who were busy with their heads to the ground, eating – pausing only occasionally to look up and see what was going on around them.

 

 

  

We started our trip to the park’s exit when our driver took a turn into a small quarry on the side of a hill where lay the park’s king, a male Lion, (Simba in Swahili), grooming himself without a care in the world.  From only 20 feet away, one can finally appreciate just how big the animal is, with front paw pads measuring 10 inches across!  We watched him for 15-20 minutes, until we decided that we needed to leave – a spectacular end to a wonderful visit.      Within the Maasai Mara Park, we had seen at least 2 of every large, major animal, with the exception of the Rhinoceros.  Only 20 years ago, there were hundreds of Rhinos here, but poachers looking to feed the black market for their horn almost wiped them out!  Today, only 24 Rhinos are surviving in the Park, vigorously protected by the government and locals.  The belief is that they are slowly making a comeback, but we are not destined to see one this time.

 

The drive back to Nairobi is long, bumpy and uneventful.  We stop at a souvenir shop along the way to stretch our legs and take one last look at carvings and beadwork.  After another hour’s journey, we reach Narok where we stop for lunch as Samuel seeks out his mother at a local market to stop and say “hi”.  Narok is in the middle of the wheat farms.  The farmers still dry the wheat by spreading it on huge sheets in the sun for 1-2 days.  Full and tired, we resume our 5-hour journey to get back to Nairobi to catch our 7:00pm flight.  At the airport, we warmly thank our Driver, Samuel, who is a fine a guide and driver as one could ever find.  Sadly, we enter the airport and say goodbye to one of our memorable journey, ever. 

Maasai Mara National Park

1:27 am

The day was a scenic mural of vast game-covered vistas, punctuated with spectacular sightings!  We entered the Talek Gate, and headed west towards the Mara River over the Olorukoti Plains.   Over two million Wildebeest and another half-million Zebra make the migration north to this area every year, and the herds there now, after most of the migration, were vast and wondrous.  While making our way to the Mara River, we needed to cross a number of tributary creeks and streams.  Since it had rained considerable in the park the night before, some of these were un-navigatable by vehicles.  On one crossing in particular, we observed a vehicle in front of us get stuck in the mud ruts, unable to navigate the flooded road ahead, unable to back-up up the hill, and unable to jump the wheels out of the ruts onto better ground.  Our driver got out to help as the others cut grass to place under the vehicle’s tires, and to push the vehicle to safety.  They finally got it out, but unfortunately, Samuel was spattered with mud for his trouble.  With him at our wheel, we made the crossing in a new spot, sliding comfortably onto dryer ground on the other side, and grabbing traction to climb up out of the valley.

 

We also came upon numerous groups of Giraffes, and a couple of pods of Elephants.  However, the first unexpected highlight was when we encountered a mother Cheetah with four 1-month old cubs.  Mother was obviously on the lookout for a meal, and every animal within sight had a hard lookout on her.  A hungry Cheetah mother with cubs is a danger to most animals on these plains, and they we at their most alert status.  Meanwhile, the cubs were wrestling and playing the whole time, already knowing where their next meal was coming from.  They were just losing their baby-down, and were likely still suckling from their mother.  Unfortunately, the law of the wild says that only two of the four of these cubs will be lucky to make it to adulthood.  Lions stalk and kill Cheetah cubs to maintain a competitive balance of predatory cats in the wild.  We regretfully left the Cheetahs, and continued our journey to the Mara River, near the southern border of Kenya. 

 

 Next on the adventure was a climb to the top of Loldopai Hill Lookout, 1580 meters up, where a view of the Mara River Valley stretches to the horizon in each direction.  On the way down, we came across a trio of Hyenas who were so gorged that they could barely walk.  We soon reached the Mara River, where, in the slower moving waters of the muddy river, huge families of Hippopotami soaked while bellowing their dominance over the river valley.  We saw at least 4 pods of over 15 Hippos each in one small section of the river.  Even the giant African Crocodiles, of which we saw two 16-footers, defer to these Hippos, who leave the water at dusk each day, to climb the banks and eat grass all night long.  Here, on the high banks of the river, we had a picnic lunch, sitting on ground that just one to two weeks ago saw millions of hooves pass.

     

After lunch, we travelled along the river until we could see a small grotto of brush, with a few trees topping a local hill.  There, in the branches of the tallest tree was the carcass of an antelope, a telltale sign of a Leopard/Jaguar kill.  We circled the grotto until we spotted the Leopard resting in the shade of a tree, waiting out the heat of the day.  She was lithe and incredibly powerful, being able to bring down an animal equal to her weight, transport it back to the Grotto, and haul it 30 feet up a tree.  We left her resting in peace, and continued our journey.

 

We then started our journey back to the gate via a different route, following the tributaries to the river.  We came upon another small group of elephants blocking the road with play in the rutted road’s mud puddles.  They sprayed themselves, and playfully frolicked with the water at hand.  We slowly circled around them, and went on to cross the tributary where we spotted another Leopard near the marsh’s edge, sound asleep under a bush.  After leaving the wet lowlands, we headed back up to the plains, coming across more groups of Giraffes, and another large pod of Elephants.  This group of 16 Elephants had 2 small babies among it, and the herd was careful to always keep those two sandwiched between two large adult females for protection from predators.  Daylight was growing short and so we reluctantly resumed our journey to the Gate.  But one more surprise awaited us tonight as we came up on a huge male Ostrich.  This bird was much bigger than the Wildebeest and Zebra that we has seen, and was easily 12 to 14 feet tall.  It was a fitting end of a wonderful day in the park.

  

To be continued…..

Nyumbu Camp

1:03 am

The Maasai Mara Park shares its southern border with Tanzania and their Serengeti Park.  The area is home to the Maasai people, who still build traditional homesteads of encircled huts and wear traditional red linen wraps.  They are still a people who herd their animals, (cattle, sheep or goats), and stay with them 24 hours a day, moving to wherever the herd’s food drives them.  The auto ride south is a formidable one – five hours by road, only half of which is on an improved road.  We are impressed by the amount of agriculture that takes place in this country, with multitudes of family-sized farms growing nearly every type of vegetable that one can think of.  At a little after noon, we finally enter the Maasai Mara Park through the Sekenani Gate, and immediately spot a large family of Elephants, followed by a group of Giraffes.  We crest a hill, and are met with the annual Wildebeest migration – 100’s of thousands of animals moving across the park in an annual migration that takes them north across the Mara River.    It is a sight that is hard to fathom, as they move along the same routes as have been used as long as man has recorded the event.  Mixed in along the way are large Secretary Birds prancing about, large herds of Zebra, groups of Gazelles and numerous pods of Topi, a very large type of antelope.  We head to the Nymebu Tented Camp, located just outside the park’s Talek Gate, and arrive just in time to have a catered lunch.

 

Our tented camp is a collection of 16 permanent residence tents on stonemasoned slabs.  The camp is powered by large solar cells, and sits within the wildlife area.  We no sooner finish lunch, and three Zebra wander through camp, and from our front porch seats, we spot a group of Wildebeest and a family of six elephants.  The camp has a large and helpful staff, and its food is spectacular.  www.maasaimara-nyumbu.com

 

  

 

 

At 4:00pm, we leave for a dusk game drive through the park.  We are accompanied by a Maasai Guide, Edward, who guides us through the park to the Talek River, passing more Wildebeest, Zebras, Gazelles, Antelope, and Giraffe until we happen upon a pack of Hyena who have obviously just eaten, with distended stomachs, and lack of vigour.  We spot a majestic Martial Eagle, and a snake-eating Secretary Bird, a 3-foot tall stork-looking creature with tufted crests upon his head.

  

Our first major highlight of the evening, however, was as at the top of the river’s embankment, where we came across a pride of six Lions, napping and resting in the grass.  From our open, exposed vehicle, not 5 meters away, we watched the 3 adult females, and the other 3 young adult Lions for nearly one-half hour, at which point we started to draw a crowd, and so we moved on.  However, just 10 minutes ahead, we came across another female adult lion, up and searching for her next meal.

                    

Our second highlight came soon afterwards, as on a mound, 60 meters away, sitting tall was a king of land speed, an adult Cheetah.  He sat attentively, watching a Servel Cat who was entering his territory.  When the Cat approached too close, the Cheetah let out with a tremendous burst of speed, sending the Cat scurrying for its life.  With the problem resolved, the Cheetah returned to his throne and took up his surveying of the plains below. 

 

By now, the sun was setting, and we started the journey back to the Camp.  In the distance, translucent veils of showers played with the setting sun to cast an orange brilliance on the horizon. 

 We arrived back at camp at 7:00pm, and after shooing the Zebra grazing away from our tent door, we washed, changed, and headed to dinner.

                                                                                        

On this night, we are sharing the Camp with only 7 other guests, also from the United States, but having travelled from a previous Safari in Tanzania.  We share a pre-dinner campfire with all, listening to Maasai childhood animal stories told by James, our Maasai host and expert Camp Guide.  Dinner is served at 8:00pm in the Dining Tent, and is enjoyed by all, as a brief thunderstorm rolls past.  9:00pm calls for bedtime as we have a long day of game rides tomorrow.

 

With Zebras and Wildebeest around the tent all night, it was not unusual to wake to snorts and grunts, and the sound of hooves on the ground around us.  We rose with the sun, showered and made our way to breakfast, looking out over the river bottom at the foot of the camp, and the antelope covered plains beyond.  We left for a day of Game Drive in Maasai Mara Park with our driver, Samuel, at 8:0am, and we were not disappointed.

 

To be continued……

Lake Naivasha

September 19, 2008 1:08 pm

We turned south and arrived in the town of Naivasha just in time for lunch, and check into the Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge, 70 villas spread around on the edge of a Game Preserve on the lake’s shores.  While eating lunch, we saw giraffes ducking in and out of the trees across the field, and after lunch we went for a quiet walk through the forest to the lakefront observation tower and jetty.  Along the way, we skirted groups of waterbucks, bushbucks and other gazelles, and walked up on a huge Maribou stork, (over 4 feet tall and likely 70 pounds). 

Wandering unattended among the wildlife made us feel as if these moments were taken from the pages of National Geographic.  It’s an adventurous, but powerless, feeling walking among 200-800 pound animals knowing that you are in their home and that your safety is at their discretion.  Ahead, we ascended the observation tower, from which we could see the rangers working to remove a dead Hippo from the lake – a loser in a 24-hour battle with another Hippo over the attention of a female.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 4:00pm, we met Samuel for a Game Drive in Hell’s Gate – a park that encompasses the part of the East African Rift System that includes active geothermal springs and vents.  Upon entering the Park, we saw herds of Plains Zebra, Thompson Gazelles, Impalas, and Grant’s Gazelles.  A particularly curious baboon watched us from a few feet away, as we drove deeper into the Park. 

 

                                                                                          

 In the middle of the Park, we stopped at the headwaters of the Rift Ravine, fed year round with 100 degree Fahrenheit water.  A local tribal guide took us on an hours hike down the ravine, walking and climbing along the riverbed hundreds of feet below the ravine rim. 

                                                      

After a strenuous hour of descending our way downstream, we climbed nearly straight up out of the side of the ravine on ancient footholds used by Maasai for centuries, and walked back along the ridge to our vehicle.  The journey out of the park was at dusk, but we saw a reclusive Dik-Dik, (small antelope-type of animal), and a few Elands, (large Elk-like animals), in addition to the grazing herds that we saw when we entered, and the ever-present families of warthogs.  We made it back to the Lodge in time for 8:00pm dinner.  But then, it was time for a quiet night to prepare for tomorrow’ trip.

 

The next morning, we arose before sunrise, and setoff back toward the lake to see if we could spot any dawn wildlife.  During the night, Water Buck herds had moved into the area, and we quietly made our way to the water’s edge where we could see a school of Hippos submerged offshore.  We were soon joined by a hotel Nature Guide, Bernard, who walked us back into the bush where we followed the sounds of clattering horns to come across two male Waterbucks fighting with their head’s down, uninterested in us.  We followed them deeper into the forest, until we remarkably came across a lone Hippo, foraging on the forest floor. We approached quietly behind a large Yellow-fever Acacia tree to within 15 meters, and then slowly circled, until the Hippo took notice, and rudely turned away.  We did not pursue, as Hippos can be very dangerous on land as well as in the water. 

                   

But the sidetrack to view the Hippo had taken us deeper into the forest where we happened upon a family of Giraffes, (including one six-month old).  We followed them for a while, but needed to complete our morning adventure in time to take a quick breakfast, check out, and begin our automobile trek to the famous Maasai Mara Park.

 

To be continued…..

Treetops & Aberdares National Park

12:42 pm

The next morning we moved to the Treetops Hotel room run by the Outspan, one of the most famous lodgings in sub-Saharan Africa.  In 1952, Princess Elizabeth of England and her new husband, Phillip – The Duke of Edinborgh, came to the Treetops among press and ceremony to visit one of the earliest places that valued viewing wildlife over hunting them.  During their stay, King George VI unexpectedly died, and Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth at the Treetops.  Kenya gained its independence eleven years later, in 1963, but always remained proud of their remarkable tie to the throne of England.

 

 

The original Treetops burned down but was rebuilt on the other side of the watering hole in the 1980’s.  Animals come to drink 24 hours a day at the site, which is a large rustic treehouse, built of trees trunks, with 2nd and 3rd floor rooms and a rooftop observation area – all hewn wood.  In the late afternoon, we took a drive through the local area, and came across Colobus monkeys, water buffaloes, waterbucks, a baboon, a black spotted hyena, warthogs, a giant forest hog, and numerous small antelope and other animals. 

 

                   Waterbuck                                                             Hyena

 When we returned to the Treetops, we had dinner, and had no sooner settled in for coffee, than two young male elephants showed up.  They explored and drank, but then engaged in a ceremony of one elephant demonstrating dominance over the other, as the dominant male would not let the other elephant up the bank and out of the watering hole.  This play-battle went on for over an hour as the trapped elephant tried all sorts of means to out-flank or out-manoeuvre the one on the high ground.  In the meantime, the rain started, and apparently in an effort to keep dry, a Genet Cat, a small relative of the leopard, showed up under our doorstep.  This nocturnal animal is not often spotted by people, but apparently was comfortable being so close to us.

 

 

                 Elephants                                                                   Genet Cat

 

The rooms at the Treetops are equipped with an optional buzzer to wake you if activity at the watering hole picks up during the night.  We bedded down as the elephants left at midnight, and slept uneventfully until sunrise at 6:00am, when we had coffee, packed, and journeyed back to the Outspan Hotel for breakfast, and to meet our driver, Samuel, again.  By the way, today’s Rocky’s birthday!

 

After breakfast, Samuel drove north over the equator, where variation of the Coriolis rotation of water was demonstrated and the Equator Crossing was memorialised. 

 We continued north through the town of Nyahururu, home of Kenya’s Olympic Marathoners, and on to the northern tip of Aberdare Park where we visited Thompson Falls, discovered in 1878, with a vertical water drop of 283 feet into a tropical ravine.  Unfortunately, the popularity of the location has engendered a large, annoying contingent of local panhandlers, looking to provide any friendly service for a fee.  Although this type of activity is common in Lagos, Nigeria, it is the first time that we’ve seen such activity in the country of Kenya.

 

 

Road travel in Kenya is easy, as the major roads are generally in good condition, and lightly travelled.  They still drive on the left-hand side of the road, as learned from their British rule.  Every 40km, or so, are police roadblocks, (with nail-strips to insure that you stop),   checking for proper licenses and papers, and looking for illegal Somalia immigrants. Also, every town insures you slow down for their safety by having multiple speed bumps every 10 meters.   Gasoline is plentiful in the cities, but costs 105 Shillings per litre, (over $6 per gallon); therefore, most people walk, ride bikes, or take local buses.  Often, the road is lined with common telephone poles, but seldom are there any wires remaining strung between them, as the value of the wire greatly exceeds many people’s income, and it is often stolen for resale income.  For this reason, one sees hundreds of workers digging trenches by hand along the side of the road for 10’s of kilometres all over the country, in an effort to bury the future wires.  In addition, one sees no highway signs of any kind for the same reason – they are too valuable and will disappear quickly.

 

To be continued……

Kenya Safari

12:20 pm

Our adventure starts in Lagos, where we are up at 4:30am to take a 1-hour bus ride in the dark to the Lagos airport.  We are flying Kenya Airways, and no surprise; there is no Kenya Airways counter at the airport.  Since there is only one flight a day for the airline, the staff only arrived to set up their counter at about 9:00am.  We finally checked in and were told that the plane was delayed and would not arrive in Nigeria until 2:00pm.  The 3-hour delay dictated that a complimentary lunch at a bar counter be given, where we were given an update to our flight that now was due to arrive at 4:30pm.

 

While waiting for our plane, we finished novels, played PSP video games, browsed every shop at the airport, and were generally bored.

 

Finally, our flight left at 5:30pm and arrived in Nairobi, Kenya at 1:00am, including a 2-hour time change.  After clearing immigration, we met our Driver and Guide, Samuel, who drove us to the Hilton in Nairobi City Centre.  The streets were quiet and still – a big change from the chaotic fervour of Lagos at night. 

The Hilton was built in 1945, and still maintains that old world charm.  After a short night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, Sam met us at the hotel front door at 9:00am to begin our wilderness adventure. 

 

Nairobi in the day is a clean, bustling and organized city with beautiful landmarks, parks and historic buildings.  We traversed the city and headed toward Aberdare National Park.

 

 

Our driver, Sam, has 1 wife, (most Maasai have 4-10 wives), and 1 daughter.  He was born and raised in the small town of Narok, about 150km outside of Nairobi, and has been driving and guiding these safaris for eight years.

 

After travelling north for 2 hours past vast pineapple groves and extensive coffee crops, climbing up to 2000 meters altitude, we stopped at a little curio respite for a stretch and cool drink.  Other safaris stopped also, but they were heading further north to Samburu Nature Reserve. 

We went west to Aberdare National park, another hour’s drive, and checked into the Outspan Hotel.  The room is a picture out of the 1920’s and could be a shoot location for “Out of Africa”.

 

 

We explored the grounds, watched and listened to numerous birds, and kept looking to see a better view of Mt. Kenya, the 2nd tallest mountain in Africa. As if on cue, as we sat on the patio for afternoon tea, the clouds parted, and there in the distance, with the sun streaming down to illuminate it’s face, was the mountain.  Although we would not be going there, it is a popular hike on the international circuit, and one of the tallest mountains on the continent.

 

 

To be continued……

AISL – The American International School Lagos

September 7, 2008 7:38 am

One of the more endearing aspects of Lagos is its American School for children.  We had the wonderful fortune of seeing the school and meeting its Headmaster during a recent Saturday when Rocky went out to assist with the organizational tryouts of the school’s Saturday Soccer program.  The school is located on Victoria Island across the street from the Federal 1004 complexes, (a series of apartments and condos that were sold by the Nigerian Government when the Federal Government offices moved from Lagos to the Capitol city of Abuja).  It is a wonderfully modern campus of classrooms, sports complexes, food services, offices and teacher’s housing, all contained within an oasis of well-maintained grounds and facilities, on land under permanent lease to the American Government.  A.I.S.L. was founded ~46 years ago, and is one of the most renown international schools worldwide.  The school currently boasts an enrollment of over 780 students, ranging from Pre-K to 11th-grade, from 51 different countries, has an internationally recruited teaching staff, and is U.S. and internationally certified as a baccalaureate preparatory program.  Next year, the school will expand by opening a new High School Campus on 40 acres nearby, that will allow them to include classes through the 12th-grade.

 

 

AISL – Quadrangle One

 

 

AISL – classrooms

 

 

AISL – Teacher residences

 

On Saturday, Rocky went out to help in the evaluation and placement of children into recreational team formation.  At the central sports field complex, 375 children, (~half the school), showed up to be placed on teams, and to begin the Saturday Soccer Program.  While children of one age-group participated, other siblings used the closely supervised gymnastic room, playground, or swimming pool made available to them every Saturday.  The children were a wonderful assemblage of diversity, easily mixing, joking and helping the staff and each other.  Parents volunteered and supported each other’s children, making for an efficient and fun-filled day for all.  Rocky will help the league by serving as a guide and advisor for coaches and players, both at practices and on match days.  One can certainly appreciate the breadth of education that these children will receive here.  For more information on the American International School of Lagos, go to:  www.aislagos.com.

 

Soccer Saturday

 

 

 

I have drapes!

September 5, 2008 7:00 am

Previously (August 1) I wrote about my search for drapery material.  Well, I found material close to where we live but at very unreasonable prices, so I continued my search.  After all, I have temporary curtains that will stay with us till our sea freight arrives.  In the meantime, I joined the British Women’s Group (BWG) and the American Women’s Group (AWG) and the Outpost (Shells local group).  Now I receive emails from all these groups and that is how I found drapes.  A young Shell couple is transferring to Kuala Lumpur and advertised the items they were not taking to this location.  I bought all their drapery and a vacuum cleaner.  I ended up with drapes that were in good condition but too big for my windows.  So I borrowed a sewing machine and cut down and modified till I covered all my windows with drapes.  So the “Temporary gold with brown flower curtains and yellow sheers” are gone.  They had been in every room.  Instead I have white sheers with green flowers and a window topper of the same.  They let the light in and brighter the cream walls.  These are in the living and dining rooms as well as the master bedroom.  Then a friend gave me some one inch white wooden blinds and those are in the bedrooms.  The two spare bedrooms have white cotton brocades that only required ironing to hang.  Viola! Drapes everywhere!  Even did the kitchen with washable white polyester.  I plan to use stain glass contact film on the glass door in the kitchen.  The next time we are back in the states I will get that from Home Depot.  Why they hung a curtain over a kitchen door, I’ll never understand,  because every time you open the door it gets stuck in the door (at the top and on the side).  The flat looks brighter, lighter and cleaner just by changing out the drapery!  I could not have done it without Rocky though because I am too short and we have no ladder.  So nightly he was hanging drapes!  It was a very productive week!

Old drapery below:

New drapery:

Similairities and Differences

September 4, 2008 8:15 am

Living in Lagos is culturally different but there are a lot of similarities to things in the USA.  Our car is a Toyota Camry readily available in the USA but a luxury item in this town (because it is a full size car) as are SUV’s.  Most people get around by bus or okadas.  In the USA being chauffeured around in a limo is a luxury for the wealthiest.  Now picture us being driven around Lagos – here we are considered to be the wealthy. 

 

Our water is from a borehole which is then pumped to a container and then pumped to a roof top container and into the flat.  Currently our borehole has a problem and water is trucked in by tanker 3-4 times a day and then pumped to the containers.  This complex of 32 flats has 3 water containers on the ground. This water we use for bathing and cleaning.  We have a bottled water dispenser in our flat for drinking and cooking.

 

We have electricity provided by Nitel, the local electricity provider.  However, power interruptions happen daily lasting for a few seconds to 20-30 minutes.  Our complex has its own generators (3) to mitigate the power interruptions so our power is rarely off more that 2-3 seconds.  And then, we personally have UPS (Universal Power System), an emergency battery power system on several appliances:  the television, the sound system and the computers.  The Governor of Nigeria has a goal for Nitel and Nigeria – “no power interruptions by 2020” (but we do not intend to be here that long!).  Today it rained and there are more power interuptions thatn usual so 2 of the 3 generators have running since morning.

When shopping, one needs to keep an open mind.  What is in on your list is not necessarily what you will find in the stores.  It pays not to be in a hurry and to be willing to browse.  Today, there were no AA batteries and no black pepper.  However, there were taco shells and taco sauce.  Daily there is only brown eggs (and even quail eggs) and long life milk (milk in a box on the shelf-there is no refrigerated milk here).  There is no sour cream, dips for chips or chocolate chips ever, yet there are all kinds of candy bars.  Hummus is everywhere and but not pita bread.  When you find an item you really like, buy several and freeze or store it if possible.  The beef comes from South Africa.  Goat is commonly in the meat case and there is a fair amount of lamb.  Chicken abounds but is just as expensive as beef.  Locals eat a diet of white yams, beans and rice.  Juice is everywhere in long life boxes and is 100% juice and cheaper than milk.  Long life boxes do not need refrigeration till opened.  Cheeses are best from La Pointe, a French shop that gets its shipments in late Wednesday night and so is packed on Thursday mornings.  However, I have yet to find parmesaan cheese.  A lot of the vegetables come from Egypt.  Corn on the cob is seen here occasionally and is very small and spoils quickly, the same with lettuce.  Our salads are shredded cabbage, with carrots, green peppers, cucumbers and occasionally tomatoes.  Tomatoes are expensive and also spoil rather quickly.  There are all kinds of pastas and rice in abundance.  Most of the cereals are imports from the USA or Europe so if you see your favorite, get it because it will be gone tomorrow and the containers only come weekly and don’t always have every item that is out of stock.  If your favorite store is out of what you want, then generally most of the groceries are out of it because people all shop more than one grocery.  And most groceries have some imported items from the Netherlands and Britain.    The groceries are very congested with people and shelf stockers alike.  When shopping during the lunch hour or on Saturday mid-day, checkout can take an hour.  Since shopping is hit or miss adventure our menu varies quite a bit.