Monday, October 15, 2012

A short get-away!

The last time I kept a journal I was 15.  My mom bribed me with $.50 per page, and like most teenagers I was in desperate need of cash, and had few other opportunities to acquire any.  So, I set out to make as much money as possible, pouring my soul onto the lined pages of my blue pleather journal.  I'd write as much as my hand could take, pushing through writers cramp all in the name of earning a few bucks for the movies and shopping.  Since writing was very difficult for me (probable the motivation behind my mom's eagerness to help me improve), each dollar I earned was precious.  I would have rather dug ditches or mowed  the lawn in 100 degree heat than laboriously document my experiences.  But money was money, and I did whatever I could to get my hands on some. 
This all came to a screeching halt when a little while after beginning my journal-writing job I decided to flip through some old entries to remember what I'd written.  To my absolute horror, there inside my journal, were red pen marks!  Yes, grammatical corrections made by my well intentioned, loving, English teacher mother! It's obvious she wasn't tying to be sneaky or deceptive (hence the red ink), but needless to say, I've kept my thoughts in my head, and far away from paper since that time.

Well, this blogging thing is my second attempt at journaling and I'm happy to report that despite over 6000 people having read it,  I don't feel the least bit violated!  Sharing a few stories with our friends and family (and complete strangers in Bangladesh, Italy, and Pakistan apparently) really helps us feel a bit more connected when we are so far away.  It was my friend Kathy Kidd's idea for us to keep a blog...  So thanks for being interested in what we are up to, it shortens the miles between us.   I've learned that even if garbage is all I can write then I should write it anyway, because Garbage eventually becomes compost with a little treatment! 
So here's to my writing garbage and your help making it compost!

 Here is the excrement from last week...Since there isn't much to do in Abuja, and we aren't allowed outside of the Ring-Road without armed escorts, the CLO (community Liaison officer) at the Embassy organized a field trip.  Our destination was the Bwari Pottery Village, and getting there was half the fun.  We drove in a motorcade of 6 suv's escorted by 6 armed guards which I felt was complete overkill until we reached the city limits.  At that point I knew why they were necessary.  I would have felt less vulnerable hiking in a dress made of bacon in bear country.  It was beyond sketchy!!  I was sudden longing for the relative "safety" of Abuja 50 km away. 
Fortunately our family was able to drive in our own vehicle in the motorcade so we could enjoy gawking at all of the sights together.  We had a running contest to see who could find the craziest thing....I think we all won because there was no shortage of unusual sites!  At one point we entertained ourselves counting the number of people on each motorcycle we passed.  Six people on one motorcycle was the max we found, but there were many with 4 or five riders, and one towing a wheelchair!  We laughed that  we had wasted so much money on an SUV when all we really needed was a family dirt-bike!  Apparently there is enough room on a two-wheeled vehicle to drive the kid's car-pool. 
Armed with only my I-phone, I wasn't able to capture many good pictures from our speeding car, but at least I got a few to give you a flavor of what it was like. 

This must be the Nigerian equivalent to the baby "car-seat".  I can't imagine it is Pediatrician approved, but it is how  everyone transports their babies.  We saw so many babies strapped to the back of motorcycles and even a few who looked like they were driving......mmmmmm, Why is infant mortality so high?

The "Nike Outlet"!  One of the thousands of identical stores selling random knock-off goods on the side of the road.   

See the piles of fire-wood on the ground? Nope, that is not fire-wood, but the number-one food staple here.  They are Nigerian Yams.  Yams here aren't sweet like we are used to, and they are more "woody" like a Yucca plant.  Yams, and Yam flour comprise a big part of most diets here.....but not at the Woodruff house.  I'm not willing to cook fire-wood for dinner when we still have boxes of perfectly good  Mac and Cheese in the cupboard!
Choosing a handmade lantern from all of the pottery at the Bwari Village.  Every time we use it we will think of our little escape from Abuja for the day!

This man is kneading all of the air bubbles out of the clay so it will be strong and not crack when made into pottery.  His arms were lean, mean, clay- kneading machines!!

Sawyer and Tyson in the Shea House.  The Pottery Village also makes Shea butter and Shea soap from the local Shea nuts and clay. 

Alexis learning to use the pottery wheel with Mohammad.  This picture is very reminiscent of the famous scene from "Ghosts" minus Patrick Swayze of course!

Logan's favorite part was playing in the mud while creating a Christmas present for grandma!  Shhhhh!  Don't tell her!

Some of the local police posing with the kids.  People are always asking to "SNAP" our children.  The first time someone wanted to Snap my kids I was freaked!  No I know it means to take their picture!


  1. Those yams are crazy!! I love that the kids got to make pottery too, what a fun trip!

  2. We're glad that Kathy inspired your efforts, because we love your posts and promise not to correct any spelling or grammar errors. Our only criticism is that you need to post more often!

  3. Awesome post and cool pictures. How is Alexis adjusting to school and life in such a unique area?

  4. So hilarious about your mom correcting your journal. Apparently something she did was right though since you are such a great comedic writer. I love reading your blog. I am glad you got out for a day. Looks like a fun little adventure. I feel like our present countries share more than we first realized: piling kids on motorcycles, pottery villages, giant vegetables, knock-off "outlets"... Glad that we can share in some of these funny things at the same time. Although- I don't need armed guards as an escort. That brings a new level of thrill I am not sure I am ready for yet! :)

  5. I can't believe writing is hard for you, you have such a great voice and I love reading your blog! It makes me so thankful for my cushy life. Keep it coming!

  6. "the scene from Ghost minus Patrick Swayze" LOLz so awesome.