Sunday, January 17, 2016

#4 Nigeria: First Impressions of Lekki Camp

One of the office buildings is in the background.

We've gone on lots of walks this week :)

There are always tons of lizards chillin' on the sidewalks 

 Sophia inherited a bike someone left behind! We took it out for a spin last night, and she did a great job. 
Grace loves stroller walks, but sometimes she also likes to be the one in charge...

My little crew :) 

As you can see, we can be real speed demons here! 

Our home away from home. Sophia loves finding shells and "treasure" in the sand. 

 Don't let Grace's face fool you. She asks to "wheeee", aka "swing", several times a day. She hates the sand at the park, so whenever we go, she sits in that swing (usually for 30-45 minutes at a time), and still cries when it's time to go home. 

 Turning the corner to our house. We're in the back corner of the camp, so it's pretty quiet. 

Home! And our car!

Our Chevron compound is like a little bubble in an otherwise totally foreign country, and I'm glad for that. It isn't very big; just under 1.5 miles around the perimeter. It's made up of 127 houses, a playground, swimming pool, tennis courts, soccer field, clubhouse/gym, a clinic, and the offices (maybe a few other things too, but that's the gist of it). People here are identified by their house number. Every e-mail I've seen from people ends with their name and house number. That way it's easy to match up family members and call them (since the phone numbers are an extension + house number). The girls and I have walked either to playgroup, park, or pool every day so far, and I can truly say this is like a strange (but awesome) neighborhood plucked straight out of the 50's. I feel like I live in the Truman Show or one of those fake nuketowns you see in movies. Everyone's house is the same, and there's only about 2 different types of cars assigned to residents here, and everyone's one assigned car is backed into the driveway. Almost no one is driving around, so kids are riding their bikes or walking around, everyone greets their neighbors, and everyone seems extremely friendly. Most of the time, though, when we walk around in the morning, the kids are at school, so when I'm walking around, we don't see anyone except the many, many workers - gardening, sweeping, or washing the cars. Russ starts work on Monday, and it'll probably be an interesting dynamic for him to see all the same people at work and around the neighborhood. 

There are three different types of house: single, duplex, and triplex. We're in the triplex. From what I've seen, all of them are concrete walls and mostly tile floors (carpet in the bedrooms). Everything is a little different. We had to learn how to use the shower, oven, stove, and microwave (which I still think I use wrong). The light switches and door handles look different, but kind of remind me of Germany. We have American plugs next to British plugs all over the house - it's really nice we don't have to have adaptors or transformers for everything! The compound is about the only place where you can actually drink the tap water (again, thank goodness. I was very worried about making sure the girls never drank from the tap!), and there are lots of shelves and cupboards to put things in (I may not feel like it's a lot if we actually had all of our stuff, but since we only brought suitcases, there are LOTS of empty cupboards in the kitchen and bedrooms!). The houses have a lot of windows! It's nice to have all the natural light, but also meant I had to use all the curtains I brought to darken the girls' rooms. As a side note, Grace has NEVER had windows in her room before, so I was nervous about her having a hard time sleeping, and maybe the jet lag has just worn her out, but she hasn't had a problem with it. Yay!

Everyone here has hired help. Everyone. Having a driver is required since we can't drive in Nigeria - it's so crazy I wouldn't even WANT to - and it's not as safe to take public transportation. Since most employees are gone all day, drivers appear to be people you pay to sit in your garage 75% of the time. But then you have someone available when you need to go somewhere. It makes me think of Branson on Downton Abbey - how he was always just reading or tinkering with the car.  :) Everyone here also hires a stewardess. Basically, she is a maid/cook/nanny rolled into one (or you can get ones that just specialize in one or two of those things). Before coming here, I thought, "I do all those jobs on my own at home, and we manage just fine, so maybe I'll just hire someone to come clean the house once a week. That'd still be a big treat for me". But almost everyone with kids I've talked to says they have one full-time so the stewardess can watch one or two kids while you're one-on-one with another (taking them to school or to something like tennis practice), or so you can be free to go to lunches, the doctor, or other activities outside the home without any kids. The stewardesses also run errands and go to the local market (where they'd be able to negotiate prices much better than an American would). The whole idea is a very, very foreign to me. Not necessarily bad, but just different.

This week we were assigned a temporary steward to help us clean the house and get settled until we hire someone ourselves. It was really nice to have someone do that, but it was also weird to have someone around the house with us, and I never had more than 2-3 hours of work for him to do. So I have no idea what I'll have a stewardess do if she's here full-time! But it's very inexpensive, and (I think) really helps the local economy, so that's probably what I'll end up doing. So far, when I've taken the kids to playgroup and the park, it has literally been me and the stewardesses. There are some kids I've seen every day this week, but I have no idea who their moms are!

Outside is 80-90 degrees every day. It's really hot and humid outside. Inside the houses, it is either really, really cold, or warm and humid. But since we actually HAVE air conditioning, I am not going to complain about finicky AC controls! The plants seem much more tropical. There are different birds, flowers, and trees than we're used to seeing. And the population of lizards has to be at least 10x that of people. Every time we go out, we see lizards everywhere, chillin' on the sidewalks. I'm glad they always run away from us because even if they are harmless, they're still a little creepy, and some are pretty big! We also have about 3 geckos inside our house, and I'm still trying to decide how I feel about that. I don't care about the downstairs ones, but one appears to live in Grace's room...

I don't know what else to say about camp, except I think we'll like it here! 6 months is going to go by really fast, and we plan to make the most of it!

1 comment:

Carson said...

This is so interesting! It really does remind me of Sagamihara housing area. I'm so glad Sophia has a bike and a place to ride it. That would have been harder when you were living in the apartment in Houston. I'm also glad there's a swing at the playground for Gracie to get away from the sand.