tirsdag 16. juni 2009
The dinner went well, barbeque and happy kids. It started to get dark so we were lighting some candles. The wind started to increase in strength so we engineered a candle holder from an empty waterbottle. The kids lit some candle in and kept under the bar to protect them from the wind.
And then came the rain. We all knew it was rainy season, but we also knew that we could be lucky and get little or no rain. We got the lot. Rain, wind, thunder and lightning. And the rain was pouring down fast and hard. We just had to try and save what could be saved. So we grabbed the bags and threw them under the bar desk to keep the bedding dry, save the cameras etc. I noticed young axi talkking about some candles, but did not pay any attention because we needed to get the stuff out of the pouring rain. Suddenly it was the smell of something burning. Fire under the bar desk. We had put some luggage over a burning candle!
The loss turned out to be three beloved pillows. The place was suddenly covered in tiny wet feathers and meltet nylon from the bags. After this shocking experience and calming down the kids, we went to find them a dry place to sleep. That was surely easier said than done.
They ended up in the storage room on top of some mattresses. Two of them with their stuffed animals. The adults had to look really hard to find somewhere dry to spend the night.
We ended up three of us sleeping on two mattresses in the shower, and one on a mattress on the toalett.
B ut we never lost our good sense of humour, we survived the night, and in the morning everything was sunny and nice again. And Olav was covered with 50 insect bites while the rest of us were spared. And all three of the kids had experienced their worst night ever.
fredag 22. mai 2009
mandag 18. mai 2009
We started out at the StatoilHydro compound the afternoon of the 16th with champagne and fingerfood, games and competitions for the children and Hot dogs with sausages from Norway. Then we went marching and singing in our traditional May 17th parade. We left through one gate and came back again through the other. We sang our national anthem very loud and clear, before the children went to the bar for a Norwegian childrens movie and some ice cream, and the adults went to the penthouse for traditional Norwegion food. And the party lasted until 17. of May had started.
Sofie decided to go home with another Norwegian family, so she went from the party to the Chevron complex. The rest of us continued to the beach next morning for a champagne breakfast, a birthday celebration and a relaxing day at the beach.
So May 17th celebration in Lagos is strongly recommended.
tirsdag 12. mai 2009
I have found a really nice and gifted woodcarver (or truth be told - he found me) that are working on several objects for me. He made me a wooden bench with carvings, and so far he has delivered two wooden stools.
They both have the same carved pattern at the top, the largest is supported by 8 legs, the smaller by 6 legs. The smaller is made very dark, while the larger is lighter. Probably done with shoe polish. There will be two more so we can have 4 stools all together as extra space for guests when needed. And when not needed? They can be stacked away like a small tower, one on top the other.
According to plans a wooden chest, two more stools and a bunkbed for Sofie is to be delivered before we move home.
"How can you announce a movie as a preview and then not show it?" we asked the man told to be acting manager. The answer were that they did this to create awarness of the movie. That is why they had put adverts telling everyone that the preview would be there tuesda May 12th. "But why not show it?" We kept pressuring the guy until he finally told us that they did not know where the movie was, and that they normally change programmes on Thursdays.
What movie should we watch instead? X-men? Fast and Furious? They did not seem like good alternatives so we went out and had a lovely dinner instead.
mandag 11. mai 2009
That seemed to help for a few days. Then it all came back again, and friday I spend the day at the hospital with her. Could it be amoeba? Appendix? Food poisining that do not result in vomiting or diarrhea? Side effect of the anti-malaria medicine they have put her on?
Well the took samples of blood, urine and stool friday, and today we are up for ultrasound scanning of the stomach.
Sofie normally eats breakfast at 6:15 in the morning, so now the local time is 8:55 and she is "starving" since she is not supposed to eat anything before the hospital visit today. Just hoping that the are able to find out what is causing the pain, and give her a proper treatment. ...and that we will spend just a few hours there, not the whole day.
torsdag 30. april 2009
Next to me was a family of three travelling together. The had the largest suitcases I have ever seen. And each person had 3 suitcases. So the used three trolleys to get their luggage. In addition they had so much carry-on luggage that I wonder how they were let into the plane? Don't KLM restrict its passangers to one carry-on item? These guys had back-packs, small cabin bags and several plastic bags.
Well, I am getting off track. My second suitcase did not come. So I found KLM grouns staff. She asked me if my name were on a list she had. When I told her no, she told me that then my luggage was not missing. I showed her the luggage tag and told her that I was missing one item. I was told to wait. First after 20 minutes would she get a form and write a "Property Irregularity Report". And she did this in a manner as if she blamed me for my missing luggage. Finally I told her, that I had not misplaced my luggage, KLM had, so please change the attitude. That really did not help. Now she wrote even morre slowly on the form.
I asked what to do next. Then I was told to travel back to the airport the next day and inquire for my suitcase to check if it had arrived! KLM wanted me to spend even more time with this? "And if it is not there then?" I asked. "You keep coming back" she told me.
I really do not think so! KLM stole hours of my evening yesterday, and they are not getting my coming evenings as well. I will write to KLM in Amsterdam and ask if this is the service level they are providing. If so - I will just have to fly with someone else.
mandag 30. mars 2009
Well, this particular Sunday I bought a picture. The seller were selling wooden pictures with sand (some were incredible ugly!) and I liked his saxophone playing man. He told me he was selling this for his brother. A brother here is not the same as a brother in Norway, were you share at least one parent to term someone a brother. Here a brother can be a distant relative or a man from the same tribe. But that’s enough about brothers for now. The price for this relatively small picture, were far to high, so the bargaining lasted a long time before he sold it for 2000 Naira.
In Nigeria they are experts in asking all kind of irrelevant questions while bargaining, or giving out their life story so we could fill the conversation with something else than just the naked numbers. It turned out that this guy were a furniture carpenter – and had his portfolio documented with photos in two albums he had between all the pictures. He showed me the pictures, while we were still bargaining for the picture.
After having paid for the picture and put it away, I collected a bottle of water for the man, and went back to look in his other album with his production documented. Suddenly, on one of the pictures were my bench! Just like I would like it to be, so perfect. I became so enthusiastic that I accepted his price 30.000 Naira without hesitating. We worked out the details, how wide, were to carve, how tall the back should be, were to deliver it, exchange phone numbers etc. When this was done the man looked at me and told me I had confused him. Why bargain so hard, from 7000 –to 2000 Naira for the picture and not bargain at all for the bench? Why? I told him the truth that the bench were worth 30.000 Naira to me, something the picture were not.
I must admit when I returned to the coffee table and enthusiastically told the rest of the gang about the bench, they all agreed that I had made a mistake. “You are probably paying1/3 to much. ” Well, possible they are right – I do believe they are. But what a bench!
When I also told them that I had paid 5000 Naira in advance for material, some of the experienced long timers were visible sceptical. And I must admit I seriously doubted my own decision – but it was to late to change it anyway. And I though how much work all that carving would be, and that he had a family to feed. And I knew that a lot of the local craftsmen are hardly able to feed themselves and their family. So I was OK with the deal. And he had told me that the money would be used to buy dry wood so it would not crack.
We agreed that he would deliver the bench in 6 weeks. Based on my experiences here – I interpreted it to mean at least twelve weeks. Tuesday – just two weeks later he called me that he would come to my with a delivery “Wednesday –tomorrow” he said. Woaw! A Nigerian craftsman delivering earlier than agreed upon! That must be the first time ever.
So I was at home at the agreed time, eagerly waiting. 16.15 he came to my door. But he did not bring my bench! Instead he came with a magical stool. And he wanted 20.000 Naira for it. I have lived in Lagos since August, and was obviously naive believing my time of big surprises were gone. So wrong!
I firmly told him that my interest in magical stools were non-existing even if they are nicely carved and from one piece of dried wood out of Gambia. His work were simply beautiful, and I did want them, but not under these circumstances. I told him very clearly that I only wanted my bench like we had agreed. He kept asking my if the magic stool was pretty, and I said yes. It was very pretty, but I did not want to buy it. He did not understand my logic, I did not understand his. Coming with something else than what we agreed upon?
I spent the next 15 minutes getting him and his magical stool out of my apartment while he was working his price downwards all the time. “18.000 Naira ma’am? You want it for 18.000?” When we had reached the gate he were at 15.000 Naira and I was rather stressed.
It turned out that the “furniture man” had used the money I gave him to buy the wood he had carved the magical chair from. And now he needed 5000 Naira for material for my bench. So against little warning voices inside my head, and a louder warning voice from my neighbour and HR manager Henrik, I paid the man 5000 Naira a second time as advance to cover the cost of the material for the bench.
This I told my colleagues in Norway in an e-mail Friday that week. And I received a lot of comments and it seemed like they all agreed upon me being surprisingly naïve, and that I would never see the man again, and not receive the bench. So I must admit I was a bit curious whether I had lost 500 kroner and learned a lesson – or if I would receive the lovely bench from the picture.
Thursday last week the phone rang again. (I has done that in the meantime also– sure – but not with the caller ID “Furniture guy”.) He told me that my bench were ready and asked if Friday 4 would be a convenient time for me to receive it. If so, he and his apprentice would bring it.
Friday – just after 4 security called me and asked if I expected a carpenter with a bench. I confirmed and a few minutes later he was at my door with the bench. And it is just so beautiful. Sofie was thrilled with the giraffes, elephants and rhinoceros carved out on its sides, and the rose in the middle of it back. I will soon post a photo on it, I just need a bit of better bandwidth to do it, so maybe another day I will be lucky. To day – I only get timed out!
And else – the bench provided a sudden scent of newly shined shoes to our flat. This is because here they treat the wood with shoe polish and polishes it till it shines. Something else is that black shoe polish is used to “convert” normal wood to mahogany for gullible tourists. That gives at least the triple price and is well worth the effort-.
søndag 29. mars 2009
Last wednesday I walked home with my daughter who were visiting from London. We had walked our way along Bourdillon road, Alexander avenue and were heading towards Banana Island wehn we noticed that the man we had seen around and under the "home-made plastic tent" were laying in a rather strange position. So we walked around his plastic covering and could see from the colour of his face that he was dead.
Since my daughter had a short time left in the country and were leaving that afternoon, I took the chance that some of all the locals passing by would do something. They did not...as far as I know.
When Rigmor had left for the airport, I tried the security guards at our compound. But guess what - they were only responsible for the security from our gate and in the compound. So basically - they could not care less. So I walked to the main gate and talked with the security people over there - knowing that they are responsible for the security on the whole of Banana Island. Much the same story. From their place we could even see the place where he was still laying. "Dead is dead and no security risk to us" were their responce.
Finally I talked to a member of the Nigerian Police Force. A nice gentleman I have chatted with earlier on (motobikes, soccer, tattos and music). He seemed very uncomfortable with the situation. He understood that I thought he should do something, and he clearly wanted to - but were still rather reluctant and slow. After using a bit of persuation and begging for help he agreed to call some local authorities if he could use my phone. His had no credit left, he claimed.
Well I let him borrow my phone. And while he were talking I noticed the stream of people just passing by the corps not doing anything. To me this was amazing. Some just looked at him, and the walked on - others clearly tried to avoid seing him. It was a chilling experience.
But after talking to local people and people who have lived here for many years I have a better understanding of some of the drivers that prevent you from doing anything, and I understand the meaning of the question the policeman asked me: "Did you touch him?" No I did not, and it turns out that if I had indeed touched him, his relatives could claim I had harmed him and demanded me to pay for the funeral or pay them damage for harming the body. This also explain how a man knocked down and killed on the road just outside our office were left were he fell on the road for hours without anybody moving the body to the the side or off the street - but just covered him partly with some cardboard while they took care of his bike.
The other driver is the reputation of the police. I have now heard stories of people who have reported the findings of dead body to the wrong policemen. They ended up spending hours in the local police station answering questions not even remotely relevant for the case (at least not in our way of thinking). I heard about a German guy who was told to write down all the cities with dates for when he had visited them - the last five years! Not at all an easy task to do for the last year. And the relevance for the dead body? May be to check with Interpol if this guy has a habit of reporting dead people wherever he goes?
After this experience I have asked our local security coordinator at work to give us a briefing on how to deal with a situation like this. His response were great. We just call him - and he will fix it for us.
And friday - the body were gone. I assume someone finally picked him up and got him removed.
lørdag 28. februar 2009
When we walked towards our seats we came across what I assume must be the VIP area. Leather chairs and tiled steps. It must have been fantastic some years ago.
Not to far from us - actually just in front of us to the left, were two trompet players and three men to play the drums. And they played and played for the complete 2 X 45 minutes! Amazing stamina! And they made it look so easy. Watching the game while playing trumpet.
onsdag 25. februar 2009
In Lagos there are many beggars and they slow down the traffic. There have been signs posted with "No begging" but there will be people begging next to the sign. No several of the most busy roads are off limit for the beggars, and it is also illegal to give money to them. So now I would risk one month in the local jail for giving money to children begging in the street.
It is hard to understand the need for these laws if you have not been here. While we drive in the traffic I am worried that some children begging will be hit and killed by the passing cars and motorbikes. The traffic is so crowded and the beggars are not aware of their security risk. If they get eye contact with a passanger they just rush out into the traffic in the hope of getting some money.
If you are hanging around a shopping centre or a central road you can risk 3 months to one year in prison if you can not document why yiou are there and what you do for a living.
The streets and open areas of Lagos are often littered with empty plastic bags, bottles, paper etc and there is a sanitation day once a month where people try to clean up the mess. Now there is a fine for littering, I just hope that the authorities will innstall trash cans of one sort or another for people to dispose of their garbage.
As I have mentioned on my blog before, there is as far as I know no puplic restrooms. We see people urinating against walls, sitting on the edge of the bridge "defecating" into the lagoon or from the walkways into the open sewer systems. I guess this will still be a problem except for the Central business district of Lagos.
Due to the unemployment rate and extreme poverty people are setting up their small one-man-business along the road, where they can reach customers with hteir services. You will find people taking passport photos, fixing motorbikes, sewing clothes, cooking a meal and sell flowers and drinks along the roads. They will now have to do this without any shade to protect them from the sun, or to advertise their business from.
It is a difficult issue, since I do understand that the authorities try to do something with the problem. My question is - Is this the way to solve the problem?
mandag 23. februar 2009
The ferry can cross your car and a few more over, while you go into a smaller paasanger boat that cross the passangers over. We enjoyed the short boat ride friday evening, thinking of the long time saved by not taking the car. The small boat had four people per bench, and were filled completely when we crossed. We were all given life jackets to take on, but not all of them could be fastened properly.
After the boatride, when you leave the boat and the life jacket, you pay for the trip. Total cost 50Naira per person. I know I would like to take the ferry next time I am going shopping at Lekki, the problem were getting from the ferry to the shopping centre in a safe way.
At the end there were different nations presenting entertainment from their local representatives. we had it all from American cheerleeding to Palestinian men dancing a traditional dance, contemporary dance performances following traditional folk dance.
torsdag 12. februar 2009
tirsdag 10. februar 2009
mandag 12. januar 2009
We have been in Madikwe last year, but this was a different experience since the landscape were so different. In Waterberg there were mountains and valleys, and we never knew what would be around the next bend.
For us it was a lot to learn. Neither Olav or I knew how good elephants were at walking in the mountains. At one occacion the ranger stopped his car and sain elephants. We all looked to some trees close by believing that they were hiding there. Instead they were above us, almost at the top of the mountain, a big herd. We could see them moving around, we heard them breaking down threes and saw some of them climbing upwards with ease.
Ever since I was a girl I have wanted to see a dassie. I read about them on some animal-cards I used to collect. And I was facinated by the idea that these small animals were the closest relatives of the elephant! So last year we went looking for dassies on Table mountain were it is said that they were easy to spt. When we did not spot any we were told it was because we were there on such a cold day. The same happened this year so I had given up the hope of seeing one. Then one evening on our way home from a game drive I saw something cat sized move on a cliff. The ranger reversed the car and then I saw this big Guineapig shaped animal that moved around on the rocks! It was a Dassie. And then we all saw more of them. I still can not believe that they are at all related to the elephant. But they were fun to watch, they were active and moved around and seemed to have a good time.
søndag 11. januar 2009
We started out in Cape Town. The two Oceans Aquarium were great for Sofie, and we spent our first afternoon there. She enjoyed taking me to the aquarium were Olav took her last year. So she showed me all the things she enjoyed last year, and found some new exhibition, or alternatively, some she had forgotten. Small colourful fish is still much more interesting than the predators. Starfish you can hold and colourful creatures are on the top of her list.
The 23. we went to Kirstenbosch botanical garden and enjoyed the weather, the smells, the view and the plants. A great place were I would like to return and take a closer look at all the parts of the garden we did not visit this time. We spent our time in the medicin garden and the herb section as well as taking a walk around the garden looking at the pond, and the threes.
Lunch we spent at Bertha's in Simonstown. The food were good but service was very slow..... Sofie had been looking forward to a visit to Scratch Patch in Simonstown, and begged for the biggest plastic bag to fill with beautiful rocks or "gems" when we got there. She enjoyed filling up the bag, and spent close to two hours there doing so. i guess when there are soooo many rocks, you take a longer time than if there were fewer.
Then we drove north towards Kalk Bay and had a nice stroll there enjoying the small town before we went back to our hotel.
Since we were away for Christmas we had opened the Christmas gifts just before we left, and agreed that while on vacation we would get one gift each. Olav and Sofie had bought me a picnic backpack for Christmas, and now they wanted me to open the gift before Christmas so we could go on a Picnic. I did, and the hotel prepared a lovely picnic meal for us and we went to Table Mountain. The weather had changed a bit - and it was cold at the top of table Mountain. Young Sofie insisted on us enjoying a picnic outside, on the mountain, instead of going to the restaurant. So we tried to find a small corner with some shelter for the wind were we ate our food and had some orange juice. Olav had a bottle of wine with him, but it was so cold that none of us wanted a glass of wine with the food. But again the weather changed and we went for a walk. Sofie were eager and wanted a long walk. Not at all a bad way to spend the day before Christmas.
Christmas eve we spent at restaurant called Hildebrand. It was at the waterfront, easy to find. We had good food and wine and a good service from experienced waiters. A place to recommend for sure.
From Cape Town we went to Franshhoek. There were so many wineries and top restaurants in that little town, that it made it very difficult to choose were to go! 8 out of the top ten restaurants in South Africa is in Franschhoek! Well, we had a lovely time, and walkingdistance to everything - even if the locals told us that it was to far to walk.