Monday, November 19, 2012

Adjustments!

So, I've adjusted to life in Africa!  I came to this conclusion, as a green taxi cab sped towards me, on the on the wrong side of the road, (because there was less traffic on our side of course) with a goat as one of his four passengers. I wasn't shocked or even overly irritated.  I didn't even think to reach for my camera, because I'm sure I'll see a similar thing again tomorrow and the next day.  My only thought as I swerved onto the shoulder to avoid collision, was "why does the goat get to sit 'Shot-Gun'?  That's a bit insulting to the other passengers don't you think!?'".
This led to the realization that I have moved beyond culture shock into a sort of comfortable routine.  I've accepted the once shocking and unusual and embraced a new "normal".   To find this new normal, I've just made a few adjustments and substitutions.  I thought I'd share a few of these adjustments with you..

I didn't realize this shop existed for the first few weeks we lived here, but this "hole in the wall"  has become my favorite shop.  It is only 30 yards from my compound, and is literally "a Hole in the wall"  that is boarded up before and after hours.  The shop owners, Faith and her husband live and work behind that wall with their two teenage kid.  Faith is so friendly and always asks about each one of my kids by name each time I stop by. This shop is a gold-mine and has taken the place of Target, Walmart, and 7-11 for me.  The refrigerator inside the shop works most of the time, so I often get a cold 'Coke-light' in a glass bottle (which I have to return to the store within an hour).  As you can see I am standing on a pile a squared off rocks placed on the ground for the customers' viewing convenience.  The store is even equipped with a trashcan for it's paying customers (the box to my right).  Unfortunately, not much of the garbage actually reaches it's target.
My hole in the wall sells everything you didn't know you needed, phone cards, peanuts, eggs (unrefrigerated of course), razors, beauty products (if you have dark skin), snacks, plantains, batteries , 1-ply toilet paper, etc.  They also sell cigarettes, not as a pack, but one at a time.  My thought is that if you have to buy cigarettes individually at N25 (15cents), then smoking may be a habit that you might want to kick!  Bags of water are also sold here, and is what most people drink because they are cheap and tap water is not clean.  I usually buy 10  little bags of water to  hand out to the barefoot workers I pass on my 18th of a mile walk home.  Currently, there a men digging trenches in the road to lay a new DSL line to our neighbor's house.  It makes me feel really sick to see these guys doing back breaking labor in the blazing African sun just so that a bunch of Americans can get more channels to their TV.  Then I realize how happy they are to be employed for the day.  Anyway, Sawyer and I like to treat them to some of our stock of Costco treats like Quaker granola bars and otterpops occasionally. 
Sawyer loves his daily walk to the shop.  He calls it the "Bread-store".  He either chooses and entire loaf of bread or a pack of "Nice Biscuits".  Each cost N50 (about 30 cents).   As soon as we get home, he gets to share his treat with his best friend, our housekeeper Immaculata. 
I still can't figure out why flour is so expensive here, but bread is insanely cheap.....unless of course this bread contains something besides white flour.... mmmm food for thought! 
These are the "Nice Biscuits" that Sawyer loves!  This picture definitely glamorizes them...we have yet to ope n a package and have them all the identical shape and size.  It's one of those 'Quality Control' things that we Americans take for granted. 

Luckily, we have the privilege of getting our gas from the Embassy.  It is imported and we go to a special station and trade gas tickets for however many liters we need.  Simple.  Not once have I had to wait for more than one other car before being filled up.  This is not the case for the rest of the population in Nigeria.  Roads often turn into parking lots as people spend entire days in the Fuel Queue waiting and waiting to get gas.  There have been fuel strikes recently caused by an unresolved dispute between gas companies, the government and the consumers.  Having no gas can  completely shut down the city because people can't get to work, school, generators can't run etc.  A couple of months ago there was a nearly empty school parking lot as many of the international students couldn't get to school because their drivers were out of gas. 


"Fuel Hawkers" are seen everywhere.  Teenagers, men, and even really young boys are seen up and down the roads waving surgical tubing that they use to funnel watered down gas into the tanks of cars for extremely exorbitant prices.  This man likely siphoned the gas from the tank of his own green cab to sell to the highest bidder.  He will surely make more money Hawking the gas to someone in a bind than he will chauffeuring people all day in his taxi. 
 
I am definitely unqualified to comment on the greasy fuel situation here, but the picture below sums up a common sentiment  regarding it.  
"Get the Shell Out of Here!!"
 
 




I miss McDonald's!!!  Go ahead and think you are better than me, that's fine!  I'm not ashamed.  I miss the ease of the occasional sprint through the drive-through to get 3 things from the dollar menu for the starving animals in the back seat, and an enormous bucket of Diet-Coke for myself (the driver needs to stay alert and happy).  When running home from sports and dance in the evenings, the last thing I want to figure out is what to make for dinner and how quickly I can make it while supervising homework and piano lessons concurrently.  McDonald's, Taco Bell, Chick Fil-a, Sonic, are life-savers in these situations.  I also miss having a 'safe' place for the kids to play when we are desperate to get out of the house. I know some of you don't think McDonalds' play places are safe because you've heard dirty stories about razors in the ball pit, and pedophile clowns from the 70's.   You are probably aware of the risk of diarrhea from playing on a filthy slide while eating chicken nuggets or the disease potential that goes along with licking a melted ice-cream cone off the floor (Logan actually did this).  Compared to what I have here, McDonald's is as Sterile as an Operating room.  I have seen some scary food prep here and would choose the filthiest Taco-bell in Los Banos California over most of what we have here.  The following pictures is the closest thing I've found to Fast-Food here.... There are stands similar to this along roads all throughout the city.   Food Handler's permit anyone??  

"
This meat will become "Suya".  Suya is Nigerian BBQ, and everyone eats it and loves it...  Consequently, a few of our guards have difficulty  pronouncing Sawyer's name, so he as acquired the nick-name Suya.  He is the Nigerian BBQ Boy!  ....Yes, that is meat sitting out in the sun :)  A friend and I went to Wuse Market a few weeks ago and somehow ended up in the meat section of the outdoor market.  Kidneys were being thrown from one vendor to his customer, whole cows were being decapitated and disemboweled while people bargained and bartered for pieces.  The horrible images I saw were only outdone by the stench in the air.  I emerged  from the carnage unscathed, except for blood stained tennis shoes and long-term emotional scarring!

The other common fast-food joints are the roasted corn stands.  I guess this is more like the vegetarian fast-food menu.  I felt pretty safe about this food option until Tyson reminded me of the man he'd seen cleaning his nails with the same knife he used to prep the food. 


These claim to be "All American Hot Dogs".  Have you ever seen tube-steaks floating in a jar in the US?!?
Signs like these are reserved for only the finest of buildings......everything else is Free-Game!!!  My poor 7 year old girl has seen more male nether regions than you can possibly imagine.  No one even tries to hide while peeing into traffic or along side a grocery store.  Why not drop your drawers in front of the general public?!  Speaking of which, any body of water including puddle, bucket or river rapidly becomes a locker room.  Dressing, undressing, bathing, talking while naked etc. are all activities we've seen taking place on the side of the road.


Well, I will have to post a part-2 to this post because it is getting late but there are so many other things I want to add.  Stay tuned and I will get to them soon.  In the mean time I will be dreaming about a Cherry-Lime-aid from Sonic....with the really crunchy ice!!

 
 















12 comments:

  1. Loved reading this! Ill think twice next time I think my neighborhood McDonalds playland is disgusting!!

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    1. Eat a mcdouble with a diet coke for me!!!!

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  2. OMG that is so frickin awesome! I wish I could visit you guys.

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  3. Mmmmm cherry limeade! I think I may have to go get one in your honor

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    1. Tina you are killing me!!! Get a cream slush and onion rings while you're at it!

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  4. The meat photo/situation reminded me a lot of Taiwan. It's so scary to eat the meat there as well - again no such thing as a food handler's permit. I remember walking into people's living rooms as they were making home-made sausages . . . ever read "The Jungle"? Nuf said.

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    1. Love the jungle by upton Sinclair ! Reminds me of when you and I were in china and ate dog and mountain fungus at that sketchy restraint while everyone else was enjoying steamed rice!!!

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  5. You have the best stories. I love reading them!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you guys are following us!

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  6. Crazy! Man....we just bought a new mattress and now I feel guilty. We really are so blessed to live in America. Thank you for sharing this, and i wish i could come hang out with you and experience it all for a bit.
    Loved this post....

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  7. My mom used to buy nice cookies when we made homemade ice cream. I haven't seen them since. You do write great posts.

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