January 20, 2009
10:00am Washington DC is 5:00pm here in Nigeria. So at 5:00pm I met some British friends and went to the American Club (or the GQ as it is known locally [Guest Quarters]) to watch Obama’s Inauguration. Rocky and I generally attend Happy Hour at the GQ once a week and there are 2-10 people in the bar then. It is a very casual atmosphere with people talking, using the Internet and American CNN on the TV (not the International version). Today there are at least 150 people crowded in the bar. The attached dining room has its doors wide open as a bar extension and had most of its tables removed and extra chairs placed. It is crowded to the point of standing room only.
The GQ serves only American food and drink all of which are imported from Houston Texas. Tonight there are 4 TV’s running and the food represents Obama’s home states of Illinois and Hawaii. Thus, the menu consists of Chicago Cubs hot dogs, Coconut fried shrimp with pineapple sauce and BBQ ribs. We joined a table of other British friends and proceeded to order wine and margaritas (GQ makes the best) and watch the Inauguration. We sampled all the food items and they were quite good especially the shrimp. When Obama was sworn in as President, the people in the bar were so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
When Obama was President the crowd stood and clapped and whistled. The Nigerians in the crowd waved small American flags.
The crowd was very respectful of Obama’s speech and again erupted in cheering and flag waving when it was over.
All in all quite a party and celebration. Several of my friends left work to go home and sit and watch the Inaguration via International CNN. I really enjoyed the party and atmosphere of the GQ. GO OBAMA!
The Harmattan is a dry and dusty West African trade wind that blows south from the Sahara into the northwest coast of Africa and Nigeria this time of year. The results are low quality air, a haze that limits visibility, and potential significant restrictions on travel. It is intermittent from November through March, but is often worst in January and February. Although most people complain about the interruptions it causes to their daily routines by covering everything with dust, and impacting their breathing, the Harmattan also pushes out the hot, humid weather, and replaces it with cooler, (about 10 degrees F cooler), and dryer weather. It also provides for some spectacular sunrises and sunsets, as the dust refracts the light into soft, colorful images. In its minor form, it is a nuisance, but if a major event kicks-up, airline travel stops, and people may not be able to travel far outdoors. This is what happened on Rocky’s last trip into Port Harcourt. Upon his return flight, scheduled to depart at 9:30 in the morning, the Port Harcourt airport was shutdown for lack of visibility and air conditions, (conditions are usually worse in the morning, and improve during the day). By 1:00PM, conditions had finally improved enough that planes were allowed to land and takeoff again, making for a nearly all day experience to travel a 45 minute flight.
Please note there are no clouds in the sky, just a haze covering everything.
We left for the airport Friday January 2nd at 1:30pm having spent the last seven weeks visiting family and friends, traveling the States and now with 8 full suitcases are back in Lagos Saturday 11pm January 3rd. It’s 82 degrees and balmy weather.
We awoke Sunday morning to the sound of the fire alarm going off in the apartment. We had gotten about 5 hours sleep at this point and it would have been nice to sleep in. After calling security to let them know about the alarm, we discovered water on the floor of 3 bathrooms and the guest bedroom and not a little water but water an inch deep. One of the hot water tanks (we have 2) had burst. Here the tanks are located in the crawl space above the bathrooms. Once again we called security and someone came round to turn off the water to the 2 bathrooms and the kitchen. We won’t be doing any laundry!
It’s Monday 1:30pm and a new water tank has arrived and is being installed. Of course there is now rust colored water on the floor and grimy fingerprints all over the walls. The plumber had to remove the wood frame around the crawl space to get the new hot water heater in, but at least we have hot water! Watching workers in Nigeria is always interesting: Plumbers, Electricians, and Carpenters – all show up with no tools whatsoever! They arrive, and then go in search of a ladder, (we do not have one), then they ask to borrow a hammer or wrench, or must go off again to borrow one from somewhere. If parts are needed, the leave and come back days later with the part to pick-up where they left off. Therefore, simple jobs drag over either all day long, or over multiple days, and even then will only get completed in a timely fashion if they are called and cajoled on a continuous basis.
To be safe, we have asked to have the other hot water heater replaced before it might burst! So the plumbers will return. Welcome to life in Nigeria!