We Four Expats Travel Afar

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Happy Christmas – Here’s a little Expat Christmas Ditty to the tune of We Three Kings….  

 

We four Expats travel afar

Metro, funicular, airplane, car

Veldt and fountain, fynbos and mountain

Always seeking the next bright star

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The Princess and The Fish

 

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Photo Taken circa January 2006 – on the coast close to Lagos, Nigeria

 

The Princess and The Fish is what I’ve always called this photograph.  I took it almost 11 years ago on a slim spit of beach wedged between the quiet creek and the wide Atlantic Ocean just a short boat ride along the coast from Lagos, Nigeria one lazy Sunday afternoon.

This girl was seemingly the leader of her ‘gang’ of beach roaming children.  She was older than the others and was insistent that I photographed her and her friends.  As I snapped the first picture, the one of her alone, she unexpectedly blew into the fishes’ mouth to make it puff up.  She was pleased to show me her party trick and laughed gleefully at my surprise.

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Knocked up Abroad Again

No, it’s not that sort of announcement.  I’m not expecting, but once upon a moonshine I was and hopefully you will soon be able read about the slightly less conventional road to parenthood that we travelled in Lagos, Nigeria in an actual book.

Following on from Lisa Ferland’s anthology Knocked up Abroad, a second book, Knocked up Abroad Again is in the imminent works and I’m excited to have contributed a chapter.

Winging it in West Africa is my account of being an expectant-and-then-new mother in Lagos and trying to circumnavigate tropical diseases (a phase of shoe licking did nothing to quell my anxiety), field ‘helpful’ parenting tips from our steward Augustine and assess the perils of being pregnant in a Lagos traffic jam.

Parenthood is daunting enough, but hurl cultural conundrums, language barriers of life overseas and in my case, the utter craziness that life in Lagos hurls at you on an hourly basis and you end up with a melting pot of fascinating stories.  In this case 26 stories set in 25 different countries contributed by an interesting and resilient group of expat women.

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Moving to Lagos? Get the Lowdown on the Lingo. (Part II)

Lagos bus magnet

 

As promised, here is Part II of my A-Z of Lagos Lingo.  If you haven’t read Part I yet, click here.

N-Z of Lagos Lingo

N is for NEPA plc:  The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHC or PHCN) used to be called the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA plc).  Due to the frequent power outages, it was more commonly referred to as:                                                                                 N.ever E.ver P.ower A.vailable, p.lease l.ight c.andle.

N is also for Naira:  Nigeria’s currency…and is for Naija:  A slang name for Nigeria   …and for Nollywood – I’ll let you work that one out for yourself.

O is for Oyinbo:  (I’ve also seen this spelled oyibo) Literally it means peeled skin.  If you are a white person, you will probably hear this often, usually to get your attention (yes, you are the peeled skin person) or as an informal greeting.

O is a popular letter, it is also for: Continue reading

Moving to Lagos? You need to know the lowdown on the lingo.

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Lagos Lingo:  D is for Danfo

 

The official language of Nigeria, the language of business and commerce, the common language for Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas and other tribes to communicate with one another is English. Whether you are a native English speaker, or like many expats have English as a second (or impressive third or even forth) language, it sounds like one less thing to worry about when moving to Nigeria.

However, even when more standardised English is spoken (and a lot of the time it will be the less comprehensible pidgin English that you hear around you), there are various words and phrases that are likely to confuse, amuse or befuddle you from the moment you step off the plane.  You might figure them out easily, you might not.  Let me help by decoding a little bit of Lagos Lingo for you.

A is for Area Boy:  A local hoodlum.  Watch out, watch out if you are told the area boys are about.

B is for Breaking Plates:  Plates that are not plastic.  i.e. the regular kind of porcelain plates that most expats over the age of 5 would eat from. Continue reading

Action Barbie’s Failsafe Focaccia

It’s possible that this will be the first and only recipe I’ll ever share with you, but it’s a goodie and has been a lifesaver over the years. I’m a reluctant cook and love to have a few cheeky tricks up my sleeve. When I say I’m a reluctant cook, preparing a meal for guests generally involves either not inviting them in the first place and appearing to be deeply antisocial or inviting them followed by a tiny meltdown, a sense of impending doom and dirtying virtually the entire contents of my kitchen cupboards.

The end result is a kitchen which looks like it’s been hit by a tornado.  I also look like I was in the kitchen when the tornado swept through, frazzled, ruffled, food stained and crazy eyed.  If I’m lucky, there will be a passable meal for our guests at the end of the kitchen chaos.  …See why this could be the one and only recipe?

Despite constant gentle reminders from my culinary superior husband to ‘tidy up as you go along’ and that ‘prior planning and preparation prevents p*ss poor performance’ and that I should ‘cook with love’ I still get my oven mitts in a twist almost every time.

When we lived in Lagos, the selection and variety of restaurants was limited, so dinner parties were a popular form of entertainment regular form of torture. To make hosting a dinner party more challenging, Lagos was a particularly tricky place to find all the ingredients to complete a recipe.  This added to the torturous drama of producing a fabulous dinner. At one point we expats gals got together and shared our most ‘Lagos Friendly’ recipes, ones that were tasty and that you could reliably get all the ingredients for (or at least enough of the ingredients to make a decent go of it).

Action Barbie’s* Failsafe Focaccia is one of those recipes, it is in fact one of the most impressive tried and tested recipes I’ve ever got my mitts on.  It is dead simple to make, it smells and tastes divine and so far I’ve been able to source the ingredients wherever in the world we’ve been living.  Win, win, WIN.

So, here’s how to make it… Continue reading

Alarmed

We spent five years living in Lagos, Nigeria. To date, I’ve barely touched on our time there. It’s a chaotic and often frustrating place to live and it’s difficult to know where to start as there are so many memories and mishaps to dust off.  As a first taster, I’m sharing one of the many (but far from the most) frustrating vignettes with you.

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This is a smoke alarm.  I think it’s used for catching mosquitos.  No?

The estate electrician phoned one day to tell me that he was coming to install smoke alarms. I was confused as we already had plenty thoroughly our apartment.

Me:                        We already have smoke alarms.

Electrician:          Yes, I am coming to put smoke alarms.

Me:                        Where are you going to put them? Why are you going to put smoke                                                        alarms? What’s wrong with the ones we have? Continue reading