Well it has happened. Our time in Lagos Nigeria is complete. The boys and I have been back in the USA for the last two weeks and Nigeria is already starting to feel like a fuzzy dream. I shared 30 things(really 31…why didn’t anyone point out I did #22 twice) that I would miss about Lagos on Instagram and Facebook. I decided I wanted to compile them all together here. A part of my heart will always be in Nigeria.
Things I will miss about Lagos #30 the kids have life experiences here hard to replicate anywhere else. Here is Roger enjoying his lesson on how to drive the boat they ride for their school travels. Just in case of an emergency the older kids are taught how to take the wheel.
Things I will miss about Lagos #29, people here find solutions to problems. Maybe not always the best solution or the most sanitary but they are very good at making do with what they have. Reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle to the max. Ok this post doubles as a what I will and also will not miss about Lagos. Lagos Lagoon= sewage and trash.
What I will miss about Lagos #28, affordable kids recreation opportunities. The school has arranged a huge variety of affordable after school activities. It costs about $50 per kid per activity for 12 weeks worth of activities. My kids have participated in: fencing, gymnastics, swimming, photography, ping pong, karate, Green Scene, cooking, robotics, LEGO, Fun Science, chess, pottery, piano, soccer, basketball, and baseball. They have not been bored for sure!!
Things I will miss about Lagos #27, the rollerblading ride stealers. We were traveling about 50mph here on Lagos roads. Crazy!
Things I will miss about Lagos #26, my African Grey Parrot buddies hanging out on my windowsills. I grew up with a Grey I could pick out their calls from anywhere.
Things I will miss about Lagos #25, having a pool and weather good enough to use it much of the year. Harrison especially is going to miss it. Some of my best memories have been sitting around the pool for hours on end with friends.
Things I will miss about Lagos #24, these squishy babies with their curly hair. Yesterday at the hospital I got to welcome this new one to the world as well as saw babies I helped deliver a month ago,3 months ago, and a year ago. When I closed down my practice four years ago I thought that was it for me with midwifery. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I am a bit devastated to be leaving. Photo taken and posted with permission.
Things I will miss about Lagos #23, traditional dress Friday at the consulate and Nigerian Culture Day at the kids school. Ben of course has gone all in and has 6 great outfits that he rotates through and wears every Friday. You can see a lot of traditional dress and colorful African fabric any day but the streets are filled on Friday. Edited to add that they love it here when expats dress up like we are enjoying the lovely of their culture. I know that isn’t the case everywhere.@ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #22, my dear friends Oana and Vlad. Most of my great friends here won’t get a private shout out but she serves double duty as a great friend and Harrison’s lovely violin teacher. Harrison has excelled under her dedication and tutelage. Oana and I met at a fencing tournament. Within ten minutes of conversation she said you will be bored with going for coffee over and over here in Lagos you need to do good. She put me in contact with Development Africa where I have so enjoyed volunteering at the clinic. It is the small connections in this world that make life so magical. See you in Romania summer 2021! @ Lagos, Nigeria
What I will miss about Lagos #22, Bologun Fabric Market. Always an adventure. I just always feel a bit overwhelmed. Someday I’m sure I will regret not buying more fabric but for now I just have a stack waiting for me to decide what to do with it. @ Lagos, Nigeria
What I will miss about Lagos #21 Keke’s. Kekenapep- is the Yoruba word for bicycle and the word used for the three wheeled taxi tricycle’s here in Nigeria. Other common worldwide names are rickshaws, Tuk tuks, or Bajaj. I just think they are adorable like little insects scooting all over town. @ Lagos, Nigeria
What I will miss from Lagos #20, affordable tropical plants. 🌱 All of the tropical plants I paid a fortune for in the US are just grown in plastic bags on the side of the road and offered for sale. I love my plant babies, all 27 of them. It is going to be hard to go back to paying US and EU prices. @ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #19, Nigerian turn of phrases. If someone says they are coming now you can expect them some time that day, now now means they will actually be there soon. I am coming ma’ actually means they are just now leaving. Your head doesn’t hurt instead your head is paining you. You don’t go to pick up or drop off someone you pick them and drop them. You don’t say yesterday or tomorrow instead say last day or next day. There are numerous others. Lagos friends help me remember them by writing in the comments!! Comments included:Compliments of the Season. Happy New Month. Off the fan.On the light. Sorry when you sneeze or cough. Loosing weight is I’m reducing. Welcome back, what did you bring for me?(After you travel) How was your night? When someone divorces it is written as No More Love.
Things I will miss about Lagos #18, my friends from the British Women’s Group craft and quilting groups. Although few of them are actually British and I can barely sew we had a lot of fun. Edith and Sabine scooped me up in their expat arms and showed me how to not only survive but to thrive in this lifestyle. Our dear friend Blessing lived with all her heart and left a huge whole in ours with her passing. Although at most get togethers I would do simple assigned tasks like cutting ribbons for our Christmas Ball Ornaments while they made elaborate pieces of art, I would just enjoy sitting and soaking up their wisdom. I am so thankful for their friendships and role in my life in my short time in Lagos. @ Lagos, Nigeria
What I will miss about Lagos #17, driving like I am doing Mario Cart!! A turtle shell ahead, a mud puddle, an oil slick, roads suddenly closing,the car in front of you seems to be waving. Seriously this is a love hate relationship. When I am not in a hurry, don’t have kids in the car,the traffic isn’t bad, the rain puddles are just right, and I have a good sense of humor it is super fun. If all of those things don’t line up just perfectly then driving here is pure hell!!
Things I will miss about Lagos #16, introducing Nigerians to the awesomeness that are dogs. Most Nigerians are deathly afraid of dogs. They will move to the other side of the road when Kiva 🐕 and I go on a walk. It is fun when they decide to get brave.
Things I will miss about Lagos #14, living on a compound with a ton of kids around to play with my kids. I didn’t grow up with many friends near by and neither did my kids up to this point. This has been a lovely experience for us all. Love my compound kids! @ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Nigeria #13, Nigerian based authors and books about Nigeria. Most people by now know of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichir because of the book Americanah but I have really enjoyed reading dozens of Nigerian authors I would never have discovered in the US. “Don’t speak like that’ said grandma. ‘Even small ears can hear you. These sons are pieces of your own souls that have broken off. You are split now into three. If you are hurting them with your words or your hands you will hurt yourself. Your soul is now divided,she continued. ‘That is why childbirth hurts so much.”-Tiny Sunbirds Far Away
Things I will miss about Lagos #12, Suraj- an amazing wax batik artist. His talent has blessed our tables with a dozen tablecloths and our household with numerous other items. I really enjoyed his wax resist batik class although it is so messy I don’t know if I will ever have a space to do it. Paining with melted wax, dying, then boiling the wax off is like tie dye to the max. So talented! So colorful! @ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #11, experiencing Nigerian culture- in this case the Yoruba culture. For the last two weeks there has been so much drumming, dancing, and celebrating going on outside the hospital I can’t even hear the baby’s heartbeat coming from the Doppler. Finally I went out to investigate. Egungun is a celebration of ancestors that have gone. Specifically they are celebrating the anniversary of the death of the local chief for the area. These characters as well as half a dozens others are moving through the streets with dozens of drummers and dancers. I was trying to decide if I could get a picture and be respectful when the celebrated deceased daughter saw me lingering outside the door and insisted I sit for pictures. If I remember correctly the local chief donated the land that the hospital is built on, they always know what is going on and have seen me come and go over the last 18 months. One man took issue with me being in pictures and I stepped away but then a few dozen others starting yelling and the daughters wishes ultimately winning out. If I look a bit suspicious it is because I was. Lol. What will it be like to be home and not have dozens of eyes staring at me every where I go.
Things I will miss about Lagos #10, boat rides! It hasn’t been the prettiest water to live by but I have enjoyed it anyways. Commute by boat. Harrison is always reading, and I do mean always.
Things I will miss about Lagos #9- The American Club. The GQ is an American private club with a restaurant, bar, gym, playground, green space,pool and sports area as well as the Commissary Grocery where we can buy American food. It hosts kids activities, buffets for Mothers Day, Trivia Night and Karaoke. It is nice to have somewhere to go where you know the food probably won’t make you sick, you pay one bill at the end of the month, and just like the Cheers song says “You want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” I never got the appeal of being a member of a country club type facility until now. Not sure it would be the same in the US when you have so many choices but it is nice that every waiter knows my name and brings me my check with my account number already on it and I always know what to expect with the food. @ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #8, volunteering at the orphanage. I wish the orphanage didn’t exist. I wish these babies were cuddled in their parents arms but sadly that isn’t the case. A dear friend brought me this shirt as a good bye. Brought tears to my eyes. Oyibo means white person in Yoruba and the term auntie is a term of endearment. The nannies at the orphanage didn’t like me at first. I would make surprise visits to check on the children who needed extra medical care and to make sure they were being given the extra food we provided. They thought I was spying. When I showed up with baby carriers everything changed. They loved watching the oyibo midwife “back a baby” then hold another in her arms. Instant rapport built and they joked, and danced, and laughed with me from then on. ❤️ those baby faces!
Things I will miss about Lagos #7, having a tailor. I haven’t loved many of the custom tailored clothes I have had made here because the local material is stiff and scratchy but I have enjoyed taking clothes I have purchased to lovely tailor Ruth to have them altered for $1-$3. Dannica loved the prom dress she made. I have also loved having the sewing men on the streets repair zippers on a backpack or sew scout merit badges on a sash. Also street cobblers who repair my shoes are the bomb!
Things I will miss about Lagos #6, my work at the clinic. I did a thing!!!!
I applied for and was rewarded the John Kirby Simon Foreign Service Trust grant! I was able to purchase 2 Huntleigh Fetal Dopplers, 6 Neonatalie neonatal resuscitation dummies and enough Helping Babies Breathe workbooks, posters and resuscitators to allow the staff from Family Care Ikota Medical Center to train 100 other Nigerian doctors, midwives, community health workers, and traditional birth attendants in updated neonatal resuscitation training. For many in the room it was the first time ever using a mannequin. Until I came and taught hands on training many had never received training in NRP other than a short lecture in a lecture hall. Now they are so great at it they can teach it!They can individually borrow the supplies ( all fitting into one duffel bag) and provide trainings when they go to their home villages, in hospitals in Northern Nigeria,or in the local community. I have loved providing trainings and working along side these wonderful people. So many tears shed by me on my last day today. They are the best, of the very best kind of people. So friendly, so dedicated to learning. @ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #5, my massage therapist Dupe. She comes to my home every week and helps me perform the best type of self care. She has a genuine gift for healing and has helped and supported our family so much. She worked softly and diligently every week on scar tissue left in my salivary glands from the radioactive iodine treatment as well as scar tissue in my neck from the cancer until I am now nearly pain free in those areas. Her head massages helped my hair to grow at an astounding rate of about an inch a month. I always love massage, but massage I can attend in my bath robe is even better.
Things I will miss about Lagos #4, maintenance staff at the ready. Things break in Lagos, often, that said the maintenance staff in our building always come right away. They can’t always fix things then but they often can. Apartment living was an adjustment for sure but I love not having to repair things myself. Yes, this is my AC shooting out ice cubes even though I have it set at 26 Celsius, which isn’t that cold. They like us to keep it set at 18.❄️@ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #3, Margaret our steward. Margaret comes for 5 hours Mon-Fri and keeps our family running. She loves my kids like her own and spoils our pets rotten. She is kind, hardworking and has a great sense of humor. Spending every day with her is like having a super helpful big sister around she is that easy to be with. She has cared for me while sick, searched the city for an exact item I needed, kept our tummies full and laundry looking better than I can ever do it. She is a gift and we will miss her so much. Her next family is so lucky to have her. @ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #2-part 1, the travel that living in Lagos has allowed us to do. Egypt-Benin-Danni to Spain and France-Harrison to Norway-Denmark-Sweden-Dy and Danni to the UK-Germany-Austria-Ben and Dy to Slovakia. All amazing!
Things I will miss about Lagos #2 part 2, the travel living in Lagos has allowed us to do continued from previous post. Ben to Rwanda-Dy in Morocco- Ben and I in South Africa-Malawi-Kenya. We are so fortunate and they were such great adventures. @ Lagos, Nigeria
Things I will miss about Lagos #1, the people. Truthfully at times Lagos was painfully difficult but they say a place is all about the people and they couldn’t be more right. We made great friends in and out of the Consulate community. Our small get together last night just gave us a chance to say -thanks for sharing this moment in time here with me, knowing you may never meet again. Or I know we will meet again some day. Or I hope we will meet again but the world is wide with so many continents and countries. All equally sweet. Many friends have left already on to new adventures or traveling for the summer and you were remembered and missed. I’m trying to model for the kids that even in a stable life living in one house that life is all about the hellos and goodbyes. That it is ok to mourn friendships left behind but all friendships have a time and a purpose Something that took much of my life to learn. When I think of Lagos I will think of people. Beautiful people.