torsdag 18. desember 2008

Christmas season

I do remember from when we lived in Texas that Christamas started a bit earlier than in Norway, and that is also the fact here in Nigeria. I was away a week in November and when I returned tha office builing were decorated both inside and outside to bring some Christmas feelings.
In roundabouts, otside and inside shopping centers, at the entrance to our compund, everywhere you find Christmas trees, Santa Claus with or without reindeer.
Coca Cola has adapted their Santa Claus to local conditions, the Afro Santa. Sofie were a bit confused of this in the beginning when she first noted the advertisements. Then she has been giving it some thoughts and came to the conclusion that the population in Africa is so big, and the climate so warm, that the ols Santa on the North Pole can not take on the responsibilities for all the continents in the world, so probably there is a Chinese Santa and an Indian Santa as well.
We were out looking for local produced Christmas decorations, and managed to find a few little men and women in traditional clothes to hang on a tree. But most Christmas decoration is imported (from China! of course). And in one of the local malls we found a poster stated that upstairs they were selling Christmas decorations from Ikea. I had to take a look. And the prices!!! there must be some heavy tolls on those decorations - they were at least double the price of what I would pay in Stavanger. But Sofie really needed some Christmas stuff in the flat. so I ended up with a few candle holders and candles.

mandag 1. desember 2008

Gone fishing

While Marte were here, and Sofie had half a day off from school I took them to the beach to enjoy the day off. Sofie brought two of her friendds, Axi and Ofer. The kids played in the pool, argued a little, ate some food and had a great time.

Then the action started. The local fishers were working to get their net ashore. That was interesting and the kids took off to watch, and then to help. It was hard work, pulling the rope inch by inch when the net was several hundred meters out in the ocean. And it took quit a while before the first part of the net came close to shore.
Marte and Axi were the two most dedicated helpers, Sofie and Ofer tired of the fishing before the net came ashore - their interest were 15 minutes and then back to the pool. Marte and Axi kept pulling the rope until the net came. Then more experienced hands were needed
Men went into the water to secure the catch, and the enthusiasm were visible when this fish were carried ashore. That could provide needed money for the community.
When the net were all on the shore the women picked fish form the net and the fish were divided between the different families. On the picture you see Axi and Marte picking sardines from the beach.

The mistery of the missing Munchies

Sofie's class at school had a performance just before Thanksgiving. the children had practised and costumes were made. The families were told to bring food to share. Sofie chose a taco dish and were very proud when it arrived at school.

Marte was visiting from Norway, and came to school to see her sister play. We had some excitement in the car going there - Lagos traffic is unpredictable - and sudddenly there were absolutely no movement from the cars in 10 minutes. I visualised my poor daughter performing with no parents present! But suddenly traffic started to move again and we made in just in time.

Their teacher had arranged the classroom with a stage, with small chairs for the fellow students from the same grade level at school, a decorated thanksgiving table and chairs for the parents. A curtain were covering the scene.

Only one or two of the boys had a sudden stage fright blocking their memory for all lines, and were helped by the teachers. The rest of the students did fine! And they were so cute. That teacher for sure has the ability to bring out the best in the children.

tirsdag 18. november 2008

The village children

Every sunday when we go to the beach we meet some of those living in the village. They come to the small pier to carry our coolers to the beach hut. We have stayed in the beach hut overnight once, and got to know a few of the villagers a bit better. The daughter of chief Big john, Fatima is always asking for Sofie if she is not present at the beach. On the photo you can see Fatima with her daughter and Sofie - from sunday.

We went to the beach to take a few pictures of Sofie to prepare for the task of making Christmas cards. On the beach we ran into these three young boys.

When the day at the beach comes to an end and we are heading back down to the pier all the children in the villages comes running to join us. Some of the little ones wants to hold our hands while walking. Sofie has learned by know that she is a popular figure when it comes to holding hands, and some of the children calls out her name to get her attention. To them she must be close to a princess - she don't have to work, she can swim in the swimmingpool, she can drink water from bottles and have cans of juice - all in one day! And she has several outfits. Sunday this little girl was quick to walk over to Sofie to hold her hand. And Sofie took her time walking in the pace of the little one.

I rarely bring my camera to the beach, but this sunday I did. And I carried it so it was visible. The result was that the kids started posing for me. Particular these three little boys. They ran in front of me and posed. The one in the yellow Liverpool t-shirt were very charming and used all his charm to get my attention.
The pier is a good plays for the children to be Sunday afternoon - they know they will receive a treat before they return home. It is not easy for the little ones to get their fair share - and the older kids - particular a few of the boys are very cunning when it comes to get their hands on some candy. Here most of the kids are gathered to be a part of the photo.

It is very obvious that these kids are used to work and help out in the village. We se them carry water, dig up roots, peel vegetables, babysit younger children, climed the palmtrees to get coconuts. This little girl is carrying a younger sibling, even though she is not very old herself.

lørdag 15. november 2008

Carnival at the school - fund raising

November 8th were the BIG day - the fund raising activities the children looked forward to. Raffles, jumping castle, throwing wet sponges at teachers, and so many more activities. We came when it all started, and stayed almost to the end, and Sofie were not bored for 5 minutes.

In addition there were music and dance performed by students at the school.

Surfing - or playing on and with a surfboard

Last Sunday we were invited to join some friends to a beach used by Lagos Yacht Club, Agogo beach. The ride from the Yacht Club to the beach were fairly short in a small open motorboat. There were plaenty of trees giving good shade for the sun, it was nice and warm and we were in a good company with Marike and Albricht and their two sons Axi and Uli.

Sofie were a bit reluctant to swim in the water to strat with, and walked about with shoes and socks on for at least an hour before she finally gave in and went swimming. She had great fun playing with the boys and in the end she were able to swim out and enter the surfboard.

tirsdag 28. oktober 2008

Furniture - to be continued - it seems

Well - good news, some of the furniture has arrived! Sofie has received a pretty desk in dark wood, made from scratch. Good work, nice drawers and absolutely perfect size for her. And she has received a shelf for her bathrooms items. And again - good work, nice shelf.

But - where is our bathroom shelf? And the furniture for the veranda? Wonder how many "two - weeks we need to go through before they eventually turn up.

The shelf to organise the closet has arrived, and was totally wrong for the purpose - you have to stack the items sideways into it! Really hard work to get anything in or out! It will need to be re-done.

i was told that it is not allowed to import furnitures into Nigeria. And first i thought it made sense with an internal marked of 148 million people. But after the experience of getting furniture - these guys needs some competition! Someone who can deliver on time and cost and quality.

Fishing net

In Nigeria and other African countries they have a special fishing net, that we do not use in Norway. It is circalur, and thrown out from a small boat. At the end of the circle- the bottom -lead is attached to make it sink quickly. When they pull the net, it shapes itself like a big bag - holding onto the fish.

from our veranda we have the view of small boats with 1 - 3 fishermen onboard going into the Lekki Lagoon fishing. I often run for my camera - but changing temperatures from the airconditioned flat to the warm veranda leads to dew on the lense. Sso I have not got a good fishing picture myself yet. By searching google Photo I found one that can illustrate the fishing method.

And why am I suddenly writing about fishing nets? I grew up partly on Danish farmland and partly along the coas¨tal line of western Norway, so fishing was one of my childhood activities - and still something I enjoy today.Here in Lagos I am not allowed by security officers in my company to ask the local fishermen to take me out fishing - so I will not do that - but it would be great fun.
I have been trying to get a fishing net like this for my father, who also loves fishing. But I have not been able to get hold on one on the markeds or in the shops. So I ended up asking Big John, a local chief, if he knew how to buy a fishing net. He said he would fix it all for me.
The procurement and production of this net tells a stor of developmental level and economic development of Nigeria. Step one - ask someone he knew if they could make it and get a price.
This misson was carried out and he reported back to me that this could be done and ad estimated price. Then a couple of weeks later there was a need to by the lead - so he needed advanced payment for that. Then this friday - the net was ready and presented. We got to see how to throw the net, and it landet in a nice circle in the sand on the beach.
And I have advanced one more item on my list of christmas gifts.

fredag 10. oktober 2008

Nigerian Culture Day at the school

Sofie has been looking forward to the Nigerian Culturday all week. So today, she dressed in the Nigerian outfit her nanny Joy has made her for the occation. Joy arrived a bit early this morning and made sure that Sofie was properly dressed and fixed her headband. There were a slight issue with Sofie demanding to wear sock and shoes instead of sandals, but you don't mess with a tired Sofie - we let her wear black dress shoes and white socks.

The whole school was colourful wearing clothing today, staff, students and parents. In the picture you see grade 2 sitting and watching a horseshow on the soccerfields. Some of the parents had even taken the traditional Nigerian head wraps on, and that made a difference for sure. So many colourful hat-like head wraps I have never seen in one place before.

When we arrived at school it was decorated beyond recognition. Leafs from the Coconut palm tree made a new entrance. When we came to the school court female musicians where sitting there whith their rythmic instruments playing.

The tenniscourts were turned into a marked place today, and the student got to practice their negotiations skills - making good bargains with the traders.

onsdag 8. oktober 2008

Here we are

I have been asked a couple of times now, to be more specific on where we live, people can't find it on maps. Well, that is probably because there are few maps over the area available on web tools. The beach you see on the satelite photo is the coast line. The right hand side of the beach is Victoria Island where the financial activities, shops, and schools are. Where you see the little blue baloon with an A on, is Ikoyi. That is the island where the Nigerian oil company and Statoil has their offices. From Ikoyi an artificial island is build, shaped as a banana? and given the name Banana Island. We live in the western part of Banana Island, with a great view over the lagoon and to mainland Lagos.

Our neighbourhood consists of apartment blocks and churches. Some big, well funded chirches sponsored by European or American churches, other more locally funded. One of the later is found quite close to where we live. Music and singing heard early in the mornings. Plastic chairs and plastic church in use with an enthusiastic user group. Very loud music from such a small church.

Situated close to a roundabout with heavy trafic is another church which has caught my attention - based on the cool name. The Church of the Assumption. To me that is summing up perfectly what churches and religion is all about.

Well back to our neighbourhood. From the veranda we can see the local fishermen taking their small boats out in the lagoon chasing after fish and shrimps so they can feed their normally large families. Some morning I am wondering why I am not out there fishing instead of fighting trafic, going to the office. But given the numbers of fishers out there and the price of fish - I would guess that there already is a shortage of fish compared to fishers. So I better stay in the office and buy fish from them.

mandag 29. september 2008

We do live in the tropical rainforest. It is just a bit hard to nitice when it has been turned into hauses and roads. Yesterday we went to Lekki Conservation Centre where a tiny bit of the tropical rainforest is preserved. We were looking at mangrove trees and strangler figs.

When animals eat the fruit from the strangler figs, seeds are passed out in the droppings and ends up on a branch in a tree. When the seeds germinates and sends roots downwards they establish themselves in the existing tree, and will eventually strangle and kill the tree, and win the race for light.

Sofie was very fascinated by gekkos and lizards of every kind. She stopped at each and everyone we passed on our way. It did not matter that we have the same lizards and gekkos at Banana Island close to our home.

We did hear the monkeys and feel their presence several time, but there were only one spot were we could see several of them clearly. They kept their distance. One of the monkeys were curious of Sofie and came closer and closer to watch her when we moved a bit away. But when she took out the camera it went back to the top of the tree. We did get a few pictures, but not any good ones. When we stopped to watch some young monkeys in a tree, the mother hid and startet to make a lot of noices so we should turn the focus towards her. Even if we were aware of this old trick, it worked. We just had to see where she were - and the kids hid.

Lekki Conservation Centre had well developed trails above the ground so we could walk safely in the swamp areas. But half of the area had thei walk way flooded so we need to come back another time, after the end of the rainy season to see the rest.

lørdag 27. september 2008

Procurement of furniture

We moved here in august to a ready furnitured flat. There are always little things lacking like a desk for the childs room, some shelfes for the bathroom and some furniture to relax in on our veranda.
Our company set up a meeting with a lady from a furniture shop the have a frame agreement with. She came to our flat and took measurements and notes and promised that she could deliver this within 2 weeks. This is 6 weeks ago - and I was done waiting. So yesterday i visited procurement, to get to know when something would happen. They called the lady, and the answer was - she could deliver in two weeks time! Procurement seemed very happy with the answer - but I had to ask how we would know that 2 weeks were 2 weeks and not some vague date in a distant future. They got a bit upset with me for asking this from our vendor. I guess it is awfully Norwegian of me to believe and demand that people keep their promises when it comes to deadlines?

mandag 8. september 2008

A trip to the beach

The company has rented a place on a beach for us, where we can go and relax on the sundays. Yesterday we joined the others for a trip to the beach. Sofie was a bit sceptical to spending the whole day there, but she enjoyed every minute of it as far as I could see.

There were local craftsmen there selling their tablecloths, skirt, paintings, sword and knives, wooden boxes and elephants etc and Sofie ended up with a rather big wooden elephant. And she has learned to bargain, and got it for a fair price. Its now in our living room.

We also bought a big tablecloth in nice colours with houses and trees on. We liked it because it reminded us both of the drawings of Dr. Seuss. Sofie wanted it on the table when we got back to the flat.

But I had some learning point before the next beach outing:
- buy plastic plates
- buy plastic cups and glass

and do remember
- your coffee
- and sausages for Sofie.

We are greatful than more experienced beach people saved us with coffe and plates. A great thank you to Randi.

Otherwise - being the only child at the beach with no one to play with could become boring. Sofie were so lucky that some of my collegues took her down and into the big waves (To big for her to play in alone) and that she could swim in a swimmingpool owned by a Norwegian couple who had their beach house not far from us.

onsdag 3. september 2008

Our shipment har arrived!

After waiting for two weeks, our shipment arrived Friday. Hurray! I hurried home from work, the local movers carried the boxes in to the flat and made me sign heaps of papers. Neither Norwegian nor American bureaucracy can compete with the Nigerian one. But still happy - soon we would have our stuff. Sofie had missed her Lego and her Play station, and she was looking forward for them to arrive.

I started rigging the computer, and what an amazing sight! I had never seen anything like it. All the cables, the mouse, the web camera, the wireless internet connector were all tangled up in one big messy heap. It took quite some time to untangle. Have the guys packing never heard about packing units like this one and one? I was starting to fear that this was pure laziness. For me it is important to state that this was done in Stavanger, by the moving company chosen by the company I work for, it was not a local Nigerian company. To me, their work seemed very well executed. The local movers looked also rather shocked when the cords were unpacked, but were far to polite to say anything.

The big LCD screen were wrapped in two layers of bubble wrap and shipped. So when it was unpacked and turned on, it was not a big shock for me to see that the screen was broken - I almost anticipated in when I saw how it was wrapped. Oh, how I envy those who use a moving company that would put the screen in a best possible fitting cardboard box and fill it with chips to protect it while shipping.

Our wireless printer was shipped with the ink cartridges inside. I guess I am partly to blame here, assuming that the people sent to my house to pack my electronic equipment would know what they were doing. An assumption I will never again have. I guess that was being over the limit naive. ALMOST everyone knows that the air pressure in an aircraft is different from on the ground. ALMOST everyone I know have experienced ball point pen having ruined clothes if they have been stupid enough to send a shirt with a pen in the pocket in a suitcase (well some are some so stupid that they learn slow - so I myself have experienced it twice). I assumed that this was common knowledge for moving companies that are supposed to deal with air shipment for big companies. So Sofie’s wireless Lexmark arrived filled with ink from the cartridges squashed into every possible hole in the printer. (In case you wonder - it becomes a sticky brown fluid after air travel and the two weeks in custom.) Off course we tried to clean it. But now the printer is declared "death by airfreight". But then again - a printer is easy to get, you can buy the several places in Lagos, so that is not that bad. But it can easily be prevented.

What is really annoying, and partly tragic is the lack of cables to the play station. We have received the hand controls, the Buzz control, the dance mat, the sing star microphones and the memory card and the play station 2 box. But the person packing this has detached the box from the cables, instead of detaching the cables from TV and electrical sockets on the wall. Imagine packing the play station without cables for electricity? Is this laziness or incompetence? Or both? Based on my experience - packing a play station with all relevant parts are so easy that a seven year old can do it. They do not end up in grand mother’s house without the power cable!

What really annoys me is when I reported this to the moving company they respond by sending me a form that they will send to an insurance company and then transfer some money to my bank account.

No understanding of what they do to other peoples property by not having proper routines and training can not just be paid by money. In my opinion - the person who have packed this should be sent shopping for a new screen and the necessary cables to the play station and then shipping it down here with a 24 hours shipping service and a big "Sorry".
And may be use a competent moving company to ship it for them?

But as young Sofie said; "Good for us that we packed the Lego's our self mum, so they haven’t destroyed them". In this setting I chose not to tell her that Lego are carefully constructed so even a Gorilla playing around with them could not break it.

Next time we move the moving company can handle the Lego's, roller-skates, books, DVD's and CD, and stuffed animals. They were capable of that. But my electronics - a moving company will never-ever be allowed to touch without myself supervising them.


Internet has been non/existing in our flat. We have now been without Internet connection the last two weeks(well not entirely true, we were online thursday evening last week and three minutes monday thsi week). In my humble opinion part of the problems are that the owners of our building has made the business decesion to stick to one provider instead of letting the providers compete. To me this seems to be a far from smart move, particalarly when the speed of the "broadband" connection reminds me of a 64Kb modem I used to love.

But then again - we do have electricity (most of the time) and the water is running, both the warm and the cold.

torsdag 28. august 2008

Signing up for after school activities

This week it was time to sign the children up for after school activities. I arrived at the school early because I needed to get an ID card. And that was lucky, because know I know what it is to get in line and wait here. At the school the line formed before 1:30 for a sign up event that started 2:25. The line was not too long when I joined, but it quickly grew very long. And that was when the rather nasty show started - mums behaving real bad!
One mother had placed her nanny in the line, and when time to enter the gym for signing up came closer, she exchanged place with her nanny. I did not have a problem with that. But when she invited several of her friends in at the front of the line - I did find that unethical, but kept quit.
As the tension increased, people skipped forward in the line, they joined anyone vagely familiar to get ahead of those who waited as you are supposed to do in a line. But the worst part was not this, it happened inside the gym.

The mums rushed towards the tables where coaches were waiting, to sign their kids on to the different activities. At the Karate table were I headed it was not bad at all, and I signed Sofie up for karate. Then I took a deep breath and headed for the swimming table, waited together with some other polite mothers for the sign up sheet to be ready for signing up. I suceeded for one day. But I had the experience of being handed the sheet from the lady in front of me, ready to sign on, a lady next to me snapped it out of my hands and wrote down several names while she was screaming her success across the room for a friend to be updated, and have the friend sign her kids on that activity. Then I got the paper back and could sign on Sofie's name.

My conclusion is, that the kids with the meanest, bad behaviored mums can go to 5 after school activities, while other kids can go to zero. I am lucky that I arrived so early so Sofie could join after school activities, but for next term I am considering hiring a big, strong bodyguard to sign her up for activities and fend of the bad behavioring mums.

I must add, that most of them behaved like me, waited, formed lined and acted as expected. But for the rest - I wish I had brought my videocamera, then I should have "You-tubed" them. I sincerely hope they don't train their kids to behave anything like it.

I talked to some nice ladies from India - and they said that last years sign ups had been even worse.

søndag 24. august 2008

Nigeria - the green country

Everywhere we look small or big plants are making their way. We were out walking in our neighborhood yesterday. Banana Island, Ikoyi. Along the sidewalk, and some places on the sidewalk plants were growing. Some of them I recognise from my mothers living room as plants bought in the flowershop and carefully watered and fertilised. Wonder what she would say if she just walked into them on a little walk around the neighbourhood.

One breed of the weeds along the sidewalk was exceptionally powerful. Taller than my spouse, and found several places. Does anyone know what plant this is? Please let us know.

Una just landet?

We arrived in Lagos Wednesday 13. of August in the evening. As arranged, we were picked up at the airport and escorted to our flat. A home made Pizza and two freshly baked bread (whole wheat) the kinds Scandinavians like, were waiting for us. The steward had been in the flat and prepared everything for us. It was just what we needed after a long travel.

The traffic down here is probably worth writing a book about, but I guess for those who have not experienced it - they would not believe it. I would never dare drive a car here by myself. People walking in the streets alongside the cars to sell you water, stamps, or pens, Okadas driving around the cars like angry little flies, cars driving in opposite directions to take short cuts, drivers honking their horn so you could wonder if they got paid per honk. I am pretty sure that if I had to drive myself I would have ended up abondoning the car and started to walk instead. We are lucky and are assigned a steady driver who takes Sofie to school and pick her up.

Of some strange reason, nobody ever describes me as a patient person. But I do believe that living here for a year will strengthen that side of me, eventually. It took 4 working days to get my ID card fixed, Two times they took my passport photos but they disappeared somewhere between the reception area in the building and the security offices 20 meters away. So then, when I pressed them a little they ended up searching the whole area and finally found the photos.

We brought only our youngest daughter Sofie with us to Lagos, and she seems to settle in nicely at the American International School of Lagos. She has already made two friends and gotten to know a couple of other kids. Her schedule has become more rigid than in Norway, but she is adapting to getting up 06:00 in the morning, leaving the flat at 06:45 being picked up at school at 14:10. So far, the most challenging issue with the school has been getting the right sized school materials (3 ring binders, not 2 rings etc)

Otherwise I have found myself getting fascinating by the local lingo. They have so many cool expressions.

The first expression confused me even more than the "How y'all doing?" that we met in Texas. I was asked by the passport photographer "Una just landet? "I had absolutely no idea what the man was asking about, so I politely asked if he could repeat the question "did you just arrive in Lagos" he then asked. Since then I have heard the phrase several times.

Otherwise they have a nice expression for walking. "Pick leg for road" or "Put leg for road".

And Sofie's swim teacher was introduced as "He know book, he went to University but he like swimming" . I later found out that "Know book" is a positive description for someone who are clever, or well educated.

In the corridor where my office is hidden away, Betty is working. She is not taller than our 8 year old, but broader. Happy, smiling and funny. She brings coffee and water to the different offices and remember exactly how we want our coffee done. But she thinks I am crazy starting work as early as seven o clock. I heard her telling one of the security guys "Maam come to work so early laik her head no correct" . And after noticing this fun phrase I heard one of the stewards ask the other "Why you dress laik you head no correct?" all he had done was - buttoned his shirt wrong.

tirsdag 19. august 2008

Cultural shock no 1

So now we have experienced our first cultural shock moving from Norway to Nigeria.
We went to the Silverbird gallery to watch a movie sunday afternoon, Sofie and I. The driver took us to the movie theatre and we went inside to purchase the tickets. Inside, on the ground floor was a young man playing music, but the volume was far to loud! It was like fighting the soundwave moving into the building. Sofie tried to protect her ears with her hands, but it was to much for her, so she started to cry. I noticed that people were "evacuating" themselves into lifts and restaurants to get away from the noice, so we did the same thing. Looked for a cafe' whith glass walls/windows and went in after buying the tickets.

When time approached movie start, we went inside hte right theatre, and luckily, the theatre worked fine isolating us from the noice outside, and playing the sound from the movie just at the right level.

fredag 18. juli 2008

Vaccinations almost done

Sofie and I went to the vaccination center in Stavanger to get our top-up of a few vaccinations before moving to Lagos. They found out that we needed vaccination against rabies, and that means three shots. We got the first one, then we got the vaccines needed for the next vaccination handed out - and we are to find a doctor to give us the shots while we are ob vaccation in Silkeborg, Denmark. And then we are to have the third shot in august before we leave.

Good to have it all sorted out.

Now we are leaving for three weeks in Denmark.

mandag 14. juli 2008

Preparing for our one year in Nigeria

We - one of my daughters and I - are going to Nigeria to live and work for one year. My spouse is there already, so soon we will be a family again.

Now we are in the process of getting visa to go there. We went to the police in Stavanger today and ordered new passports - so we could have one passport for travelling while the other passport is being sent away for handling the visa application. Hopefully everything will be OK before friday -when we are leaving for a vacation in Denmark.

The schools in Lagos require use of school uniforms. For us Norwegians that is not common and school uniforms are not sold here. Sofie and I went to London and got her navy blue skirts, white shirts PE shorts and t-shirts, so now we are prepared on that front.

Next step - along with the visa prepararion is what to bring.