Sunday, March 6, 2016

#12 Nigeria: Life in Pictures (Month 2)

It won't actually be 2 months until Wednesday, but since I've spent almost this entire month being sick with one ailment or another, I'm ready to think it's over. :) Plus, Russ has been back in the states for two weeks of this month with another several days to go, and I'm ready for that to be over, too. Here are some random pictures from our month:

So, it seems like almost every ex-pat household here on camp has a tablecloth of this style (different colors, different patterns, but kind of the tie-dye-ish look). I asked for one with animals, and someone explained to me that these artists will put these animals on it...but may not have ever even SEEN these animals before. So there are one or two mystery animals on the tablecloth, but I still think it's pretty cool. Unfortunately, when the Bishop came over, I asked him if these were a typical Nigerian thing, and he said no. Apparently only the Americans have these. Shucks. So much for my authentic Nigerian tablecloth :) haha 

Sometimes after a long day of school for Sophia, she is happy to stay at home and snuggle up to watch cartoons. :) Full-time school is a big adjustment for her!

Graces loves to read the Book of Mormon board book specifically to find all the babies in it. Too bad for her, there aren't that many babies pictured...but it doesn't stop her from looking and pointing to the ones she does see.  

Last week was Spirit Week at school. Here's Sophia with her friend on "twin day".

Dr Suess Day for Spirit Week - Sophia was a star-bellied yellow sneetch

One morning when I dropped Sophia off at school, I saw these outside the classroom. Other kids had written "I love my mom" or "I love my family" so I was anxious to see what she wrote. I tried not to be too deflated when I saw hers... 

Russ and I got invited to the birthday party of one of his co-workers. Whenever I tell people about it, I automatically accidentally call it a wedding reception because that's how fancy it was. It was very beautiful. There were decorations, crystal glasses in the place settings, caterers, and - interestingly - a preacher did a sermon as part of it. The only downside is that I was very underdressed. I went in jean shorts and literally every other woman there was in a very fancy dress. Like even most of my church clothes would've been too informal. Some of the men wore jeans, so Russ probably didn't feel quite as out of place, but most were also in their Sunday best. We also brought Grace, and she was the only child there. Bah! Stupid American moment! But now we know! And it was very neat to see how Nigerians celebrate birthdays! Russ's co-worker was turning 50, so maybe that's why it was such a big celebration. But we were told it started on Friday morning and went straight on through until 1:30am on Sunday! Wow. 
I snuck this picture of the wedding-like birthday cake right before Grace attacked the camera. 

 Some decorations at the party:

Russ with some of his other co-workers who attended at the same time we did. 

Here's a picture of Gracie's top teeth for you, Mom!  

It's tradition that when someone moves, this lion statue gets dressed up and sent to the yard of the person moving. Gracie was pretty excited to have her BFF (the "rawr") show up next door when our neighbor was moving out! 

Our church building from the inside. It's the front door, the door on the left is nursery, and the big room is the chapel. Normally all the chairs are set up, but this was on a Saturday. 

The chapel. Complete with broken windows, dirt, sometimes bugs, and no running water.

This would be better if I cropped it, but we were amazed to see these two guys sleeping on top of that giant truck of logs! 

Gracie juxtaposed with all the litter everywhere... 

Sometimes, there's not a ton to do - especially for the driver. He and Grace threw this ball back and forth for a while one day, and she loved it!

Friday, March 4, 2016

#11 Nigeria: Food and Groceries

After 8 weeks of being here and adjusting, I would say the biggest battle for me personally has been food. I'm sure that's only because I'm the one cooking and grocery shopping, but it can be frustrating. I feel like even when I do end up getting all the correct ingredients for a recipe (which can be a hard task in and of itself), somehow it still never ends up tasting as good as it should. I never realized before now that familiar foods really can be a comfort in a place with lots of new things.

There are three types of places to get groceries here:

1. The local market: open-air, crowded, have to barter, and while you can buy lots of things there, I mostly use it for fruit
2. The import stores: very expensive, but the best place to find familiar brands, meat that is "normal" for us (like bacon, hot dogs, ham, chicken breasts) and safe to eat (most of the expats don't buy meat from the local grocery stores because it doesn't taste the same or from our experience, it has made us sick when we have eaten them), a bigger variety of cheeses (I've basically only seen cheddar at the regular store), fruit that isn't locally grown (like strawberries, grapes, peaches, etc), and ingredients that I had no idea weren't common (like sour cream).
3. Local grocery stores: these look basically like a regular American grocery stores. The main ones that people seem to shop at are called Spar and Shoprite, and I believe they're both owned by South African companies. Since South Africa is primarily British, I don't recognize many brands at those stores, but for the most part, as long as I can recognize what something is, it generally tastes the same.  I will admit, however, that when I see an American brand, I get a little excited. I don't always buy that brand, though, because those are definitely marked up in price! But I get basics like milk, bread, eggs, juice, pasta, water, cleaning supplies, etc at these stores.

About once a week, I will send my stewardess and driver out with a list to go to the local market and local stores. Then another day of the week (usually at the end of the week because that's when the shipments come in), I go to the import stores. I will admit to being very spoiled to have house help. I mean, being able to send someone to the store for me? It's awesome. Being able to leave Grace with the stewardess so I can shop alone, also awesome. I am getting familiar enough with the prices that I'll send the driver or stewardess to the local grocery stores, but since the import stores are SO pricey,  I don't feel comfortable sending my staff there. I mean, it would be a little awkward to give them the equivalent of half their monthly salary just to go to one grocery store for me.

Another thing about grocery shopping is that it takes a long time. The reason I break it up into different days is because with traffic, it can take 45 minutes just to get to one store. So, for example, a trip to and from the import stores (they are the farthest away) is usually a minimum of 2 hours. We also have a store just down the street that does have some things if you're in a pinch. Otherwise, there's no such thing as running to the store if you forget an ingredient. Also, since you have to have a driver to leave the compound, hopefully you don't need any groceries outside of their working hours!

I am getting used to the more expensive food prices here, but luckily since it's in Naira, it almost feels like monopoly money. So I honestly don't think about the price that much until I check out. And typically, every trip I make to the store ends up being around 18,000-20,000 Naira (or $60-$75, depending on the exchange rate) - more at the import stores. We definitely spend more money on groceries here than in the US, but since there isn't really much else to spend money on, I am fine with it. Besides, there isn't much of an alternative. :)

 Inside Shoprite - a more "normal" store

Dad took this during his visit. It's funny because it caught me right as I was watching the screen to pay because I can never understand them when they tell me the price :) 

The meat section of a local grocery store. haha "Lamb, Goat, Beef"!

I took this picture on my first grocery trip out. Parmesan cheese was hard to find, and when I did, this small bag was 1,700 (over $6 with the exchange rate at that time)

Almost all milk comes in these small cartons. They have a very long shelf life, only have to be in the fridge after being opened, and THANKFULLY the girls drink it just fine, but I think it's gross. I can't even stand the smell of it. It just tastes... a little too close to the cow. Bleh. 

I took this picture for Lissa because I remember she liked Orangina in France. One thing about the import stores is that the expats here are from many different countries, so we have lots of different types of imported foods.