I live a charmed life. I have made the best of friends here in Lagos. When we first arrived many other people were also coming to post. I heard that there was over 60% change over that summer. I became friends with a lovely group of women. We got to enjoy exploring Lagos together and were able to spend even more time together than we anticipated as there was a delay in most people getting jobs. The head of the state department at the time had put a hiring freeze in place for all EFM(eligible family members). This meant that many spouses who would like to work at the consulate were not allowed to apply. Sad for them but great for me as we had a wonderful 6+ months getting to know each other.
About six months into our post many of us were starting to get a bit stir crazy. We watched our husbands go on different trips for work(not so fun) and on trips for fun to places to do amazing things like hike Kilimanjaro and we felt green with envy. We decided a girls trip was in order. Morocco is one of the few short flights coming out of Lagos and someplace many of us had never been. At first our trip was going to be a bigger group of women but R and R’s, work and other obligations fell in the way until is was just LeAnn and I able and willing to go. I will be honest, I almost canceled. Ben was thoughtful as ever and insisted that despite a larger then anticipated cost and a much smaller group, that I really needed to go. I know LeAnn went back and forth as well but in the end we were both on board.
LeAnn is great but with me working at the clinic and she teaching we hadn’t been able to spend as much time together as we had hoped coming up to our travel date. I have big kids, she has little kids. She lived in the building across the compound so we didn’t see each other in the elevators etc. There was some small concern about whether or not we were close enough friends to spend 8 DAYS together exploring another country. I am so so glad we didn’t cancel the trip. It was breathtaking and a complete blast and LeAnn has firmly planted her feet in my heart as one of my favorite people. We were well matched she has boundless energy and a let’s do it attitude that is infectious and I have the travel savvy to keep expectations reasonable and keep us safe while having plenty of freedom.
I was on the fence about whether or not to run this race. After I ran Boston in 4:52, I swore to myself that I would not do another marathon without an appropriate cycle of training leading up to it. It is much more fun to be able to run the full distance instead of petering out and having to walk, while swarms of other runners pass you. In prior marathons, I had run a total of between 500 and 800 miles in the 4-5 months leading up to the race, which gave me a good level of fitness. Then last year, I ran Ile Ife, because I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to run a marathon in Nigeria, and I did a little better training for it, but still clearly not enough, as I ran a 5:23. Once again I told myself that I wouldn’t do another marathon without a full training cycle. I had an eye on February’s Lagos City Marathon, and starting last summer I had established a fairly consistent habit of 3 runs per week, and started increasing my miles a little and even working on lengthening a “long” run on the weekends. Between the heat and humidity, the traffic, the rough roads, the fumes from traffic and generators, and the harmatan, Lagos is a difficult place to run. It’s very different from the beautiful dirt paths and red rocks of southern Utah. Those factors got the best of me again, and I still didn’t get in the miles that I should have to enjoy a marathon. Nevertheless, as my wife pointed out, this would be our last February living in Lagos, and if I didn’t run it now, I’d likely regret it. She was right. So I signed up, and even pressured/encouraged a few friends to sign up as well.
I’ve always loved enjoying the outdoors. Some friends and I decided that we haven’t had enough hiking in our lives recently, so we decided to remedy that with a visit to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. We took advantage of the long weekend observed in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr, to fly south and soak up some vitamin N (nature). We set our sights on Mount Bisoke. While there are several options for a guided tour which nearly guarantees a sighting of mountain gorillas, those options are quite pricy, so we planned to just pay for the standard entry fees for the park and to hope for the best. We’ve heard that only about 1% of visitors to the park via this method see gorillas, so it was a long shot, but it was definately in the back of each of our minds.
January, home from vacation and thrust right back into real life. Actually coming home is always nice. And Lagos is home for us right now. It warms my heart hearing my kids say that. We didn’t see the kids for almost two solid days once we returned. Tired from a fun trip and glad to be with their own beds and toys. Now that 3/4 of my kids are t(w)eens do I say they still play with toys? What do we call our special entertainment items once we aren’t children anymore?
We are in this odd time warp. People warned me that life in the Foreign service was split into 6-12-6 and I didn’t really understand it. Well, I do now. The first 6 months at a new post you are just so in awe of everything. Trying to figure out a new culture, where to shop, kids in school, different language, making new friends and living without your personal items because they haven’t been delivered yet. It can be an emotional time. Then comes the next 12 months. You have found your people, your work, your stores, your stuff. This is the honeymoon phase, and truthfully it was lovely. Last comes the last 6 months at post. You are preparing for your onward assignment, wrapping things up, desperate to complete things from your to do list knowing that you are leaving people and a place you have come to love possibly never to return. It is really difficult to live in the moment in this life style. So we arrived back in Lagos after our time in Europe and bam!, we are in the last 6 months of our tour here. Wow! I feel like the days are long and the weeks are short. So I am essentially taking pictures of everything, in a tearful way.
Two years ago, back before this life of living abroad began, my children made some friends. Our home in Utah backed against National Forest. It was lovely. So much clean land to explore with red rocks, wildlife and flowing water. One day after the kids had gone out to play they came home excited that they had made some friends who lived in a bus. I was a bit confused and mildly concerned. Oliver wanted to invite the new friends over to play so I accompanied him to go meet his new friends. They were a German family taking a year to travel around Canada, the US and Mexico in a converted school bus. They had done a similar trip around Eastern Europe and Asia a couple of years earlier. Heike and Tom along with their two daughters, Paula age 7 and Emma age 10, and their dog published books sharing their escapades along with helpful tips for others craving a similar adventure. We liked them immediately and they spoke english well enough to have a lovely conversation. We invited them for coffee and tea the next day. We enjoyed their visit and learning more about their lives abroad and at home in Germany. The kids continued to play together for the week that followed.
The day after Christmas, Dy and I gave in to the temptations of (1) willing grandparent agreeing to provide child care (2) a cheap train fare and a 1 hour train trip and (3) the desire to scratch off another country on our scratch-off map of the world, and we took a train from Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia, for the day. It was fantastic to explore this beautiful capital city with no real itinerary, just spending some quality us time. We had heard about Bratislava from a few friends, and they all loved it. We quickly came to see why.
The view out the window of the 1 hour train ride from Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia. Go clean energy! Continue Reading →
November and December were a whirl wind of school activities and the holidays. We hosted Thanksgiving dinner and invited some lovely friends of ours. They are from Romania and had never experienced an “American Style Thanksgiving”. I assured them they had eaten all the food before but we had a great time.
Just a note all those wine bottles are not even close to full. I had attended a ladies wine tasting a couple of days previous and my friend sent me home with some extras.
The ride to the airport was eventful. We will never fly out on a Friday again, and definitely not the Friday that school releases for Winter Holiday. It was crazy and took us about 4 hours to make the 10 mile trip. There were so many people traveling that all the airport lounges were essentially out of food. Our credit cards included airport lounge access which saves us from having to buy meals for our family of 6 when we travel. It saves us so much money. Our overnight flight was uneventful. It is so nice that the kids are old enough and have enough travel experience to be really amazing and self efficient when we travel now. What a difference 18 months makes!