Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Like a Mosquito

This is Diana checking in today..

I’ve been bombarded with tastes, sounds, smells (some of them not so good) since the moment I got off the plane in Abuja 6 weeks ago and want to find a way to share all of the experiences with you.   Unfortunately I feel completely overwhelmed by the task.  I feel like any small experience that I tell leaves many more untold. To quote my ever-eloquent (slightly inappropriate) dad, “ I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony…I don’t know where to start!” So, I will just have to dig in and give you a little nibble from the happenings of this week until I figure  out a better way to bottle up our adventure and send you each a piece.…… Better yet, come visit and see for yourselves.

Always willing to spread West-Nile Virus and Malaria
First, let me expound on the topic of Mosquitoes. These nasty little blood sucker are so prevalent here in west Africa, we have to take prophylactics for the Malaria they like to carry. I take daily antibiotics to prevent malaria, and the kids and Tyson take a different medication once per week. Sunday is known as “Malaria Pill Day” and the kids loath it!!! Although they are each required to take only ½ of a pill, it can take hours to get it down the chute! The kids haven’t quite figured out how to swallow the little white, moon shaped pill without chewing it, gagging, seizing and whining. They would rather let the pill dissolve and have pools of saliva fill their mouths than take one little swallow! Each Sunday I remind the children that there is one thing worse than malaria pills………MALARIA! I’ve tried disguising the medication in applesauce, and even stuffed one in the middle of a cookie, but the kids were not fooled. So, once again, this Sunday morning was anything but “the day of rest”. Instead it was filled with the craziness of looking for lost church shoes, fixing hair (and then complaining about the hairstyle), eating breakfast, spilling breakfast, cleaning up spilled breakfast, getting church bags ready, teasing each other, and of course the dreaded Malaria Pill! My strategy this Sunday was to bribe the kids with a treat from our “Costco Stash”. The “Costo Stash” holds all the food we shipped over from Costco before we came to Africa, filling our entire pantry-room and all of the cupboards lining the kitchen. It contains enough “fruit-by-the-foot”and Capri-Suns to feed a soccer team for a very long season. The key to the Costco-stash is very literally the key to my kids’ hopes and dreams…and isn’t handed over frequently. Luckily, the kids are so motivated by American Food, that the bribe did the trick. The kids were able to choke down the pills with only moderate theatrics, followed by fruit snacks from the stash of course! “Well Played!!,” I told myself proudly, so glad the worst part of the week was now behind us.
Later that afternoon I discovered my blunder…..I hadn’t given my kids their malaria pills at all. Instead, I had treated them for any inflammation they might have had by giving them each 10mg of Prednisone each! The nurse inside of me was irritated that I didn’t do the ‘double medication check’, but the mom part of me was even more irate!!!! My lovely Sunday diner was about to be destroyed by children wailing about the unfairness of life and gagging on their real medication!!! P.S, this is not my worst mistake by far….I’m constantly nominating myself forthe“Mother of the Year” award for stunts like this!

A section of the Costco Stash....Sawyer is focused on the chocolate chips on the top row!

Abuja Traffic!
The American International School is let out early on Fridays to insure everyone can be back in their homes before prayer at the mosques. Prayer schedule is a huge reason for traffic here, and you must plan your day accordingly. You don’t want to be on the road during the rush to the Mosque which regrettably for drivers, the prayer rush happens multiple times per day. It seems as if every car, pedestrian, taxi cab, tuk tuk (the three wheeled death machine) and bus in the region converges on the city center at prayer time. Parking is scanty, so sidewalks and streets turn into parking lots. People even drive till they get stuck, then leave their cars and walk the rest of the way. The traffic hadn’t quite reached this point yet, but I knew I was in trouble. I thought I’d left with ‘plenty of time’ to get the kids from school, but now faced the realization that I wasn’t going to make it. I freaked out! The kids would be waiting for me to pick them up for gymnastics, and once traffic was clogged it could be hours. I played out all several “worst-case-scenerios”in my mind that all ended up with my two tiny kids abducted. (Laugh at my over-reactions if you want, but blond people have been known to disappear here). To make matters worse, I heard a high-pitched siren wailing behind me. Our already crowded, honking, maze of people, now had to make room for the vehicle coming through. It wasn’t just one vehicle, it was one black SUV after Another. The motorcade must have been President Goodluck Jonathan, or another high-ranking officer in the Government being escorted through the city. I just about cried in defeat thinking there was no hope of reaching the school in time....and keeping my kids a live (the worst-case-scenario had just gotten worse)! Suddenly, realizing I was also the driver of a big, black, shiny SUV, I saluted the next vehicle in line and joined the procession. The Sea of people parted as we flew through town in our matching cars escorting our official with dignity!! I smiled the entire way to the kids’ school and arrived with time to spare!

There is very little traffic in our drive-way!!




One of the Water-Cannons in place at the embassy to "cool-off" protesters.

Driving past the Embassy I made Tyson flip a u-turn so I could get a picture of the big black vehicle parked nearby in preparation for potential riots or protests. This additional security measure was due to the recent violence seen at other US Embassies around the world the last week. We explained to the kids that it looked a lot like a huge black Fire truck and was called a “water-cannon”. It was used to spray water at very high pressures. We were fairly vague with our explaination, not wanting to excite and scare our kids with the mental images of protesters being blasted off the Embassy lawn by pressurized water, but Logan persisted. “Is that in case a protester sets the Embassy on Fire?” He asked. To which Tyson hesitantly answered that it wasn’t to be used on fire, but was meant to be used on people. We were confident that little Logan grasped the ugliness of the truth until he responded, “Oh, that makes sense”, he said “It’s a good way to keep protesters cool cause it gets really hot here in Africa!”
I have a list of a hundred more things to share, so Just like those thirsty blood sucking mosquitoes, I will have to make my way through them one at a time. 


  1. I love the Costco Stash! Too funny... I love reading all of the updates!


  2. Love the stories. Especially you joining the motorcade.

  3. Blood-sucking mosquitoes HATE B-vitamins. They smell like moldy dirt to mosquitoes, just as they do to us. If you take a B-100 pill (not a capsule, a pill) every day, they will stay away from you because, quite frankly, your skin will stink.

    This does not mean you can stop your medications, but it will prevent a lot of itchy and annoying bites.


    1. I had no idea! I'm on my way to buy vitamin B! I don't mind smelling like poop! I will blend in ;)

  4. I love the motorcade story! Also, my kids HATE taking pills but have had some luck putting the pill in honey and a spoon. Just I thought, because I know how desperate this situation is!

  5. Ohmigosh - the adventures never cease! GOOD WORK on joining the motorcade. And since I automatically go into "worst case scenario" very easily, I totally relate to your thought process and panic. I'm thinking you had divine inspiration to solve that dilema! And how crazy is it that your young children are becoming so savy about protesters, etc. Love Logan's thinking!! I'm ramping up my prayers for your health to include the medicine routines!

  6. So I can't believe that you drive there! That is incredible. I am very impressed with your quick thinking and savvy use of your big car! Glad you were able to get the kids in time! I am really enjoying your blog by the way- it inspires me. Have you gotten your HHE yet?

  7. Our HHE arrived before we did..... Because Tyson came before us. So when I got here it was unpacked and organized. Heather, had your stuff arrived???