Learning fancy driving maneuvers

For many who live in Nigeria, this is a completely normal, every day task.  For someone who comes from a country where there is complete order and rules on the road, it opens up a whole new world.  I am learning how to drive with rules, yet without rules.  This means, although there may be 3 lanes on the road, they are actually five lanes and you can float from lane to lane without looking and without any concern of the drivers near you, because, well…this is how they seem to do it.  This also means you do not wait, ever.  You just go. If you wait your turn, you will honestly never get a turn. So, here is me learning to try to cross a four lane main road with cars just sitting, sitting in traffic and mean figuring out how NOT to wait my turn!

It may not look too bad, it actually was one of the easier times I had getting across this road.  Next time I will show a much more “interesting” one.

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Trying to make Nigerian Food!

Hey guys! Ruby here to show you how I COMPLETELY FAILED at making this goopy Nigerian dish, so here’s how it started.

 

Me and my friend bolt out of the kitchen with our nose and mouths covered. The smoke of the boiling oil is absolutely stenching and we fan out the smoke. I grab the pot with a pair of pot-handlers and put it outside on the balcony floor, we take off the lid and bolt inside before the smell reaches us.
Yeah, so that’s how it went when I tried to make a Nigerian dish,  what a FAIL!  The recipe seemed really hard, and it sure was!!!! I had read the ingredients, and there was something I had never heard of, it was “Palm Oil.” I decided to try my best handling with it, but I COMPLETELY  messed up.

Now have a question for you, can you say “Ewa Agoyin?” Can you? Because I barely can! Although its hard to say, its even harder making this dish, as you can tell 🙂
Living in Nigeria, it obvious that I have to try and make some dishes. There are so many Nigerian dishes you can try, but I decided I would go for this recipe.
The Ingredients:
2 cups of red beans
1 large white onion
1 cup of palm oil
1 knorr cube
1/4 cup of dried crayfish (I have no idea where to find this haha)
1 bell pepper
4 habenero peppers
1 medium onion
1 tsp salt
Ok, so I have to make a delicious (maybe) dish with all these ingredients. But, to be honest, it seems really hard! There are so many steps that seem super overwhelming! Like, I have to bleach oil, and blend up vegetables.
So, I guessed that it would take me about two hours, and it would be really hard. I was right! Soooooo, I started by cutting veggies, getting beans out of their cans and mashing them up. I blended all the veggies together, and instead of crayfish (Which I COULD NOT find) I just used a meat bullion cube. After I blended them, I started with the “Palm Oil” mess. (BIGGEST MESS EVER!) So apparently, you have to boil a cup of red palm oil, leave it in a covered pot for 10 minutes and wait. We did that, and what we didn’t know, was to not take off the pot until it cools, soooooooo we were in a bit of a, whats the word……… GINORMOUS, HUGE, CRAZY MESS!! So, yeahhhhhhhh.

We took off the lid and a gust of smoke engulfed our faces. We started coughing because our throats were immediately dry. We rushed the pot outside to get rid of the stench. After that, thankfully, it got easier.
We then boiled the veggie goop to get rid of extra water. We also boiled some onions in the disgusting palm oil. We then put it all together, boiled it for 15 minutes and put it on the plate without beans. It looked absolutely disgusting! It looked like poop!
After 20 minutes of convincing my brother, we finally got someone to taste test our dish of veggie goop and beans.
We anticipated the moment of disgust (and throw up) on our video cameras. BUT….. he actually liked it! WEIRDDDDDDDD. Since my brother liked it, I decided to give it a try, and it was not that bad! I wouldn’t be something I would eat all of, but it was pretty decent!
So, I think I did PRETTYYYY good on this project! It was super fun to try, and make a part of Nigerian culture!

 

 

Final result of our “Ewa agoyin.”

 

The sands of Harmattan

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After our lovely trip to Namibia for the Christmas holiday (more to come on that later), we returned home to Lagos on what seemed an unusually overcast Monday night. I, for one, had totally forgotten, but our return fell right in the middle of harmattan, the season from November-February in northwestern Africa when winds blow fine sands from the Sahara Desert across the west African subcontinent (hence, the seemingly gloomy conditions). Both the length and incessance of the incredibly fine sand-dust leave everything outside covered in a thin layer of grime, like our car in the covered garage

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Or our trampoline on the balcony.

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As you can imagine, this usually isn’t good for the human constitution. When the dust clouds first hit just a few months ago, Brent started feeling ill at work and then crashed hard at home. His immune system kicked in and left him with an aching fever for several days. Even this morning, Ruby woke up with blood-stained sheets from a spontaneous bloody-nose in the middle of the night (this, Wikipedia tells me, could be the result of the change in humidity that follows the setting in of harmattan). Many of the other expats in our building have been sick and out of commission for a few days as well.

As an outsider, my first question is how on earth do the local Nigerian people handle this seasonal occurrence? I can’t imagine filling your lungs with ultra-fine particulate matter does your respiratory system much good. In my view, it doesn’t seem like the Nigerians barely slow down hardly in the face of the ominous dust cloud–life continues as normal, the kids are still begging on the streets, and most folks is doing their thing- business as usual. The streets are certainly emptier, but that may just be that it is the holiday season. I personally have been hesitant to spend much time outside at all, limiting my exercise to indoor workouts where I can. Even still, the dust seems to be so fine that it gets in everywhere. Our family PC recently stopped working, and when I opened it up to take a look, sure enough, the graphics card was covered with a thin layer of lint dust and harmattan dust.

Chatting with some expat friends who spent several years in Korea, that region experiences a similar seasonal invasion with sands from the Gobi Desert. There, everyone dons facemasks to keep the airport dirt out of their lungs. We’ve spotted some facemasks for sale on the streets, but in my brief and few forays outside I haven’t seen anyone really wearing them.

Hopefully, the cloud passes soon and we can see sunlight unobscured by floating foreign soil. In the meantime, I am thrilled that we live in air-conditioned home with windows that can remain shut.

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Drive with us after storm!

After a short downpour one morning, we have to get out to the store and had lots of fun driving there! A combination of poor infrastructure and ineffective sewage systems leads to flooded roads and potholes everywhere! Who knows what would happen if a monsoon hit!​ Just another thing you gotta get used to here in the big city of 21 million!😁


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Hawkers, hawkers everywhere!

​​If you want to buy almost anything -you can most likely find it here, at the Balagong market. It is busy and loud and would be simple to get lost from the people you came with if you’re not careful!
We came for Nigerian fabric and the we saw so many to choose from! The honest truth is—the only way we could finally choose a fabric to buy was because we were so hot and sweaty and uncomfortable with the interesting smells that we just picked anything, purchased, and started the walk through the maze to get back to our car.

This was a whole different kind of shopping!

Busy Fabric Market!

Field Trip fun! We decided to go explore one of the main markets in our area.   The first thing we saw as we parked were rows of fruit and veggies, and LOTS of yams! The market has one main road which you can see in the pictures.  It is crowded and difficult to navigate.  We were holding tight to our younger children so they did not get lost. Even one glance away and you could lose sight of the people you are with due to shoving and crowding and people shouting at you to buy their goods.  We were focusing on buying Nigerian fabric so we didn’t stop until we got to that section of the markets. There was plenty else around to distract us, included fresh plastic containers of raw and bloody meat, deodorant, jewelry, shoes and all kinds of sweet dough things being carried in boxes on vendors heads.  We finally arrived to the shop through a tiny unlit alleyway and we could  not all be looking at the fabric together.  There was room for about – 1-2 people at most…and definitely forget it if you don’t like anyone in your “space” because that just isn’t happening. We took turns looking and then continued to shop around at a few more cubicles where we had to be single file and you could mostly stand, and just turn around in your spot to shop.

What our pictures can NOT show is how hot it was, how we were sweating, and how the smells from all the people, the wares, the meats,  foods, the vegetables and very large garbage dumpster practically sitting in the very middle section of the market, all meshed and mixed together to make us decide that we had had enough for one day and let’s get in our air conditioned car that has the air freshener hanging off the rearview mirror!

As we made our way back to car we continued to see many curious sites and sounds.  The metal bowl of big, round fresh kidneys, a little boy with a huge bandage on a very large growth off his neck and someone with him trying to collect money, and young toddlers and children sitting on dirty shop floors where their families were doing their trade.

Most likely we will not rush back to this market.  Once again, we were reminded of a simple appreciation of  what so many people take for granted – clean, air conditioned shops that carry all the necessities,  with big parking lots and shopping carts to carry all you need.  And while the market actually seemed to be a “one stop shop” we fondly were thinking of the states and Walmart.  Somehow we don’t necessarily crave all that “atmosphere and personality” all the time to get the shopping done! 🙂

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Fishing in the Lagos Lagoon

A very cloudy day during the rainy season.  The fishermen are out in their boats regardless of the rain. For some reason we still love to see the boats and watch the fishing, no matter how many times we have seen it before.  It has to be done everyday, to survive and make a living.fishermen in the fishing village