Life Unparalleled

Loving Life as a Foreign Service Family – Current Parallel 41° 23' N – Barcelona, Spain

First Week-Work and Fun

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1 week down, and we are all finally over the jet lag, and settling in nicely.  I started out the week processing interview waiver visa cases (people who have been previously issued visas, who are applying for new ones under limited circumstances can have the interview requirement waived).  By the Thursday and Friday I was spending a couple of hours each morning in the interview window.  I’m pretty slow at it still, but its nice to be applying the things I learned in ConGen.  I’m blown away by how quickly my colleagues can do this work.  They assure me that in 6 months I’ll be keeping up with them.  I’m glad to say that it is very interesting work.  Its fascinating to talk to people from all walks of life here in Nigeria.  I’ve spoken to grandmothers excited to go see their grandchildren, to Nollywood actresses, to bankers, to students, to petty traders, and all sorts of other professions.

We had quite a bit of rain at first, and the roads go from rough to treacherous when it rains.  My commute to work starts on the roads, and finishes on a boat across the waterway.

The streets are shared by pedestrians, cars, and motorcycles, any one of which goes wherever it wants. As you can see, the streets are not designed to drain very well.

As soon as I was notified I’d be sent to Lagos people started telling me about the boat I’d get to ride to work. Here it is.


The contrasts in Lagos are striking. Some very fancy buildings, like Civic Center Towers, and some abject poverty and very rundown buildings are intermixed.

One of my colleagues’ last day was Friday.  He and his wife provided a catered lunch for the Consular section, of Nigerian food.  They use a lot of spice in their food.  This jolloff rice was delicious, the turkey wing was really good too, but so spicy it made my forehead sweat.  We’ll need to get out and try some Nigerian restaurants one of these days.  Getting around will be much easier when our car gets here.

Overall, the weather has been very nice.  I was worried about how muggy it might be here, but even on our sunny days it’s been beautiful.

Food is expensive here.  There is a store just down the street that has a decent selection of many nonperishable items, and a limited selection of produce.  Fresh milk is $16/gallon or so.  We’ve been buying the shelf-stable milk.  Some brands taste better than others.  The meat selection leaves much to be desired.  There is a produce vendor around the corner from our apartment.  Those oranges are ripe, despite being green, the pineapple is SO tender, you can eat the entire thing, including the core, and those little red bananas are the best bananas we have ever had.


One of my bosses previously served in Abuja (Nigeria’s capital, since it was moved from Lagos in the ’90s). While there she met a gem dealer who mines and cuts his own stones here in Nigeria.  This weekend she hosted a party at her house where he came and brought his wares for us to take a look at.  It was really fun to be social and look at all the fun sparkly things.  He brought amethysts, garnets, topaz, tourmalines, aquamarines, and some raw (uncut) emeralds, and was selling them by the carat, and he also does silverwork to set the stones if you wish.  We got some beautiful stones for Dy, and got an early start on some Christmas shopping!

The Consulate community here is so great.  There are tough things about living here.  The restrictions on our freedom of movement are hard, but the people really do make up for it.

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