Last Day in Phoenix

My last day in Phoenix got rained out, but the rain was a welcome reprieve from the heat. I’m sure the locals would agree.

I will have to visit Phoenix again one day soon, during the winter months, when I have more time to plan and more things will be open.

But, to make the most of the day, I decided to go out anyway. I did not go out for very long; the rental car that I was driving was very small and I’m nervous about driving in the rain in foreign places. In Houston, where I live, it floods a lot, so I am always concerned about street flooding, no matter where I am.

To start the day, I decided to go out of the way to get lunch. I ended up at the In and Out Burger, a place that I’ve heard a lot about!

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I cannot recommend the In N Out burger, though. The menu is very limited and the burger wasn’t that great. Perhaps there’s something that I am missing? Maybe that’s the fun of it, having fewer choices and eating a small burger? I’m not sure. Like the media  always does, I’ll blame the hype of this establishment on the millenials. Sorry Millenials. Ha, ha, just kidding. No, seriously, what’s so great about this place? The bun didn’t even have sesame seeds on it. A disgrace!

The rest of the day, I just drove around, somewhat randomly, taking photos and looking at things along the highways.

Whatever this thing was, it was the highlight of my drive. I had never seen anything like this. It is a, ummm, I have no idea. It’s like a very large hill, but the sides have big holes. It’s like Swiss cheese had a baby with a mountain, or something like that. Perhaps I should Google it and get a proper name for it. Whatever it was, it was majestic and very, very interesting!

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The most surprising thing about Phoenix was the architecture. I really liked how lots and lots of the buildings were one story; many had flat roofs. Then, there were these really, really interesting buildings, like this apartment building, that kind of shot up along the roads. Many of the newer apartment buildings were, what’s a good word…fantastical! Very interesting designs, colors, shapes, etc. And, I love how the folks in Phoenix incorporate greenery into the landscape in interesting ways. This was an apartment building in Scottsdale, which isn’t very fair from downtown Phoenix. Look at those bright red patios and hanging plants over every balcony! GORGEOUS.

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This is the shirt I wore to drive around. It’s a glitter skull. I was going to wear it to the John Mayer concert and look super cool, but I found the other shirt and wore that one instead.

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The photo below will only be humorous to the folks in my hometown of Shreveport. I saw this place, named Kokopeli’s and laughed out loud. In my hometown, Kokopeli’s is a very rowdy and often times fatally violent night club. To see this quaint little gift shop baring the same name was like an inside joke that I shared with myself.

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I saw these horse sculptures while riding around in Scottsdale.

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This video shows a short detour that I took through a residential area. Look at the short houses and the really, really nice roads. I also found Phoenix to be very, very clean!

This video shows more of the very nice and well kept roads in Phoenix.

 

And on to my last Phoenix related story!

Take a look at these two gentlemen.

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These two probably nice, but definitely ANNOYING gentlemen were in front of me at the airport. Goodness!

These two guys were German, and I think they came to Phoenix to buy every, single used electronic item in the whole damn city.

Do you know how nowadays you have to take out your “larger than an iPhone” electronics and place each one in a separate bin? These guys used probably 10 different bins, I’m not kidding. They very methodically took out every, single, damn, item, oh, my, GOD.

I am glad that I’m usually at the airport very early; I was able to wait behind these guys and still have time to eat a salad and walk leisurely to the gate and make a restroom stop before boarding started.

Also, these two guys also had two of their bags searched. I also had my roller, carry on luggage searched because I had found some super discounted bath bombs at Ross and purchased them. They were only $2! But, they set off the TSA agents, so I had to be searched. When the guy asked me what they were, I had the intelligence and common sense to call them “bath soaps” instead of “bath bombs”, because, well, you know, I was in an airport. I would probably be in a holding cell right now if I had made that mistake.

The flight home was better than the one going there, except for the terrible landing and quite a bit of turbulence. It’s 9 hours later and I still feel queasy, but I’m glad to be back home.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures in Phoenix.

Until next time, my friends…

Summer Time in the City

It’s Tuesday in Phoenix!

It’s also the first day of August!

Do you know what those things mean? They mean that it’s still hot as hell in Phoenix! NEWS FLASH, uhh, not!

After an eventful day of traveling and site seeing, I slept like the dead last night. My body is also on Houston time, two hours ahead. So, at around 7:30 pm, I was thinking, “Gosh, when will the sun go down?!”

Oh, I forgot to write about the expensive, but tasty, dinner I had last night. I had a turkey burger from the hotel restaurant, which is called “The Blue Hound.” It’s some kind of chic and swank place; I know this because I looked at the full menu online. My guilty pleasure of staying in a hotel room is ROOM SERVICE. I know that it is overpriced, but how often do I get to ring some friendly person up and they have the food delivered to my bedroom? Then, I can eat the food, in the bed, knowing that the bed will be re-made in the morning, by someone else? There’s simply nothing like room service.

Here’s a photo of the delicious food from last night:

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I had a turkey burger with fries, unsweetened iced tea, free tap water (the water in the background in the bottle cost $8, which is why I am celebrating the free water in the glass), and a strawberry trifle. The strawberry trifle was surprisingly good, but not as surprisingly good as the turkey burger. It was flavorful and beautifully presented.

The other thing I failed to mention last night was this creepy bird sculpture. It is about the size of a real bird, and it creeped me out when I first entered the room yesterday. It is some kind of creepy green bird sculpture thing, covered in felt or some such foolishness. This bird is my least part of the room. I hate this bird more than I dislike the Phoenix temperatures.

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This morning, I ordered room service again for breakfast because I was starving. I also had to order some toothpaste, since I forgot mine at home. Both came and were quite satisfactory.

I am not feeling well again today, though, and that’s kind of a bummer. Also, several of the things I wanted to visit, like the Frank Lloyd Wright house Taliesen West, is closed for the summer. I understand why things would be closed during the summer here; the heat is brutal. So, I decided to just go out for a few hours, even though I am not feeling so great.

I first went to Target for some supplies to help with my current ailment.

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Lucky for me, I stumbled upon a BRAND NEW TARGET! Have you ever been into a brand new Target? I haven’t and Target is basically the best place on Earth in my opinion. So, for a Target to be both TARGET and NEW, was basically the best thing ever!

I did not take photos inside the store because I didn’t want to be *that* obnoxious, but it is small and the ceilings are lower than what I am used to. Whenever I travel, it’s always fun to compare things to how things are in Houston, where I live. The saying “everything’s bigger in Texas” is true in lots of cases. This Target was almost what I’d describe as “quaint” when compared to the smallest Target that I know of in Houston. It had all of the essentials I needed for my ailment and a Starbucks, which of course I visited. A drink from Starbucks can cure almost any ailment, right?

When I left the Target, I casually wondered where all the homeless people are. Since it is so hot here, I wondered if there were special places for them to sleep. Where I live in Houston, it is very, very common to see homeless or transient people, so for them to be missing from the “urban landscape” (excuse me if that’s offensive, I have no idea how better to say what I am trying to say) is strange and noticeable for me.

Just as I was leaving the Target, I heard a lot of loud yelling and fussing. I then saw a man, dressed a little shabbily, talking and fussing very loudly with himself. He was making threatening gestures to people as they walked by, but nothing aggressive enough for people to run or even seem really upset by it. Perhaps he’s well known in that area; perhaps it’s just too damn hot to even be afraid of anything. What are you going to do? RUN? In this heat? Hell nall.

That experienced reminded me of home, all of the countless transient or others in need who I see every day. Perhaps some of them need mental health services, perhaps sometimes they’re inebriated. Either way, the guy outside of Target still reminded me of home.

After the Target visit, I decided to go to the Heard Museum. It had very high ratings on YELP and other internet places. On the way there, I took some more photos of the roads. I am obsessed with the roads here and it is fun to compare them to roads in Houston. First, every road that I have driven on has been smooth and pot hole free! That’s a big change from driving on the roads in Houston!

Also, all of the roads I have experienced have such nice trees and other plants planted alongside. I love all of the beautiful angles and photo opportunities the greenery gives as you’re driving along. IMG_6418IMG_6426IMG_6428

 

I also found a cactus and two people riding their bikes, even in this crazy heat!

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I made it to the Heard Museum. It is an art museum and they had a big Frida Kahlo exhibit going on.

Sorry to spoil it here for you, but I did not go inside and see the exhibit. I began to feel even less well while I was there, so I decided to tough it through long enough to go into the shops, get souvenirs for family, and then head out. However, I have to say that there is so much beautiful artwork on the grounds of the museum; I do still feel like I had a great experience there.

Here are some photos I took on the grounds of the museum. I took these photos with my iPhone camera. See if you can notice any quality difference from these and the ones from yesterday, which I took with my DSLR.

REFLECTION POOL AREA

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OUTDOOR SCULPTURES

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MORE SCULPTURES HONORING THE SERVICE OF NATIVE AMERICANS IN UNITED STATES MILITARY ACTION

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MY FAVORITE SCULPTURE; THIS ONE MADE ME HAPPY FOR SOME REASON

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OTHER VIEWS OF THE BEAUTIFUL MUSEUM GROUNDS

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CURIOUS GREEN TREES (have you ever seen a tree this shade of green? I have not; after I noticed these at the museum, I started to see them EVERYWHERE!)

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THE WALL OF PAPER FLOWERS & ME TAKING A SELFIE IN FRONT OF IT

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THIS CURIOUS, YET DELIGHTFUL, ROUND WALKWAY THAT SWIRLS DOWN INTO THE GROUND

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I would take photos of the items I got at the gift shop, but they’re for family and I don’t want to ruin the surprise for them.

Oh, when I was in the museum gift shop, one of the employees asked me if I was there with a large group of women, there to take a jewelry making class.

I said no, and he said, “Oh, I ask because you like somewhat exotic.” In my signature, very dry sense of humor, I replied, “Ahh, I look somewhat exotic because I am. I am not from here. I’m from a far off land known as Texas.” I didn’t laugh or anything; I was still not feeling well, but I can’t really help myself being a little bit of an ass whenever possible.

The teenagers in line behind me whispered, “Did she say TEXAS?” I am not kidding. All of this really happened to me.

The clerk responded, “Well, you ARE VERY EXOTIC!” He said that and let out a very loud chuckle. Since the gift shop was very small, a part of me wished that I had not amused him quite that much. I regretted making him so amused that he felt he needed to laugh so loudly and speak even louder. But, I guess it was ok. When I got back to the hotel, I looked in the mirror and tried to find what on my face made me seem exotic, since I had not spoken at all when the clerk told me I was “exotic.” I should say that I have seen very few Black folks here, but I have seen a few, so surely my race isn’t what made me look exotic to him. I suppose it’ll remain a mystery.

After leaving the museum, I went to Dairy Queen and ordered a salad and fudge sundae. I sat in the car, not wanting to go in and not wanting to order another $30 meal from room service, and ate the salad. It was surprisingly good, the sundae was a little sub-par, since they gave me peanuts instead of pecans and omitted the whipped cream and the cherry. I felt a little jipped, but decided I would enjoy my paltry sundae as best I could.

I listened to the latest episode of “Levar Burton Reads”, my new favorite podcast. If you’re unfamiliar with Levar Burton and/or podcasts in general, I highly recommend his podcast. It’s like having a friend in the car with you, reading you a great story, and who doesn’t want that?

After that, I drove the sad little rental car back to the hotel and wrote this post. Tonight is the John Mayer concert and I am going to rest up a bit before it starts. I’ll be there whether I feel like $1 million dollars or .01 dollars. I am excited!

Stay tuned tomorrow!

 

Moving Day in Camp

Living abroad is a strange experience.

I may be having a very particular kind of expat experience because of my location, but I imagine that for any expat, anywhere, living away from home, where things are familiar and easily understood, some of the most mundane things can become quite entertaining.

So, when I heard lots of beeping and backing up and shouting a couple of weeks ago, I rushed over to the window to see what was happening. Turns out, the folks across the street was getting their shipment delivered.

I was not in the country when our shipment was delivered; R was here and he managed to both wrangle the workers and make sure things were in place.

Lots of people have asked me how my stuff was moved here from Houston. Here’s a short version of what happened, ommitting the details associated with immigration and the weeks long process of mentally telling yourself that yes, it’s ok to ship many of your belongings to a VERY foreign country.

PROCESS

  1. Go insane and decide to move to Lagos.
  2. Assure friends and family that you are in fact NOT insane. Repeat as necessary.
  3. Go through your things and decide on the things that won’t go to the new country. For me, I left antique furniture, childhood memorabilia, and my most beloved “possessions”, my cats, at home in America, where I felt they were most safe.
  4. Schedule a time for professional movers and packers to come pack up your belongings.
  5. Watch as they pack up your extensive collection of cast iron and wooden letter stamps faster than you bought them at the store.
  6. Wrangle cats to ensure none of the actually end up in a box or escape the apartment.
  7. Waive bye to your stuff and sleep on an air mattress after ordering Thai delivery because now all your sh*t is gone.
  8. Wait 3-6 months.
  9. Greet Nigerian Santa Claus when he arrives with your shipment.

 

As I previously mentioned, I was not here when the shipment arrived, but I was here to record this video when the folks across the street received their shipment. It was quite entertaining to watch. This video shows the guys loading the container back onto the flat bed truck after it has been emptied.

Enjoy the video!

Oh, and I want to say thank you to everyone who has subscribed to the blog or if you have read it once or every day. Thank you so much.

A special thank you to my mom, who reads this blog EVERY SINGLE DAY.  MOM: Your encouragement and knowing that you read my blog has renewed my love for writing and given me new found confidence in my abilities to tell a story. ❤

Here’s the video:

 

London Curiosities 

Today was our first full day in London. 

We did a lot of stuff and walked over 5 miles today. I’m tired again, so instead of retelling the entire day, I’ll share a few of the curious things I saw today.

One of our first stops was at a Starbucks.  Of course I found a reason to go into a Starbucks relatively early in the day.

If you’ve never been to London, keep in mind that many (or perhaps most) buildings are very old. They’ve been redone on the inside to fit their current use, but previous design elements might linger.

I think that’s what happened with the bathroom in the Starbucks.  R theorized that the location was maybe previously an old folks home because there’s a huge emergency cord hanging from the ceiling. I’ve never seen anything like it, and only something close to it in a hospital. 

There was also a sign instructing users how to turn off the emergency signal if it’s pulled accidentally.  As luck would have it, a lady pulled it while we were there and a terrible, screeching noise started flowing from the whole ceiling.

The next curious thing was the signs for rerouting traffic.  Our tour bus ran into lots of traffic and we saw lots of these signs. There are seemingly several construction projects going on around the city. Instead of signs that say “Detour ” like you’d find in the States, the signs here say : Diversion.  It feels like a big, fancy word to an American person. Ha!

For lunch, we ate at a place called Joe’s Southern Table. I’ll write more about the place and food later, but the curious part of the place was the bathroom fixtures. They were copper metal pipes or something! I found them to be so cool, kind of like a steampunk meets design kind of aesthetic. 

Ok, I’ll definitely write more tomorrow.  All the excitement has made me tired.

Until tomorrow my friends…

The Oriental Hotel in Lagos

“Where are we going to eat lunch today? What are we going to do today?” R asked.

I excitedly exclaimed: “I’ve got it all planned out!”

This past Saturday, in addition to going to the Hans & Rene Gelato Shop and the A New Earth store, we also hit up The Oriental Hotel to visit one of their restaurants. It was a lot of fun and was quite entertaining.

There are lots of photos for this post, so let’s just dive right into the fun!

The hotel lobby had several nice, working, and clean elevators. The tile pattern on the floor was gorgeous!

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The wood work on the staircase was gorgeous. Check out the chandelier that hung several stories!

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There were some African inspired art pieces along the walls of the stair well.

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The chandelier was mesmerizing!20170429_122643

The video below shows the fish dish that R ordered. It came to the table bubbling and I liked the little fire stone under the pot. It was so interesting. R said the fish was pretty tasty, too! I don’t remember what it is called, though!

 

The highlight of the outing, aside from the delicious Chinese food, was the shouting match between a waiter and a customer. The customer believed that the waiter tried to wrongly charge him for something and doctor the bill to show more was owed that what was right. If you listen closely, you can hear the customer saying “Don’t lie to me! Don’t lie to me!”  Ah, Lagos, you never disappoint when it comes to delivering the excitement, do you?

This photo shows the GIANT, 11-person table that we were seated at. We have no idea why we were seated at such a huge table, but it was a lot of fun to spin the glass in the middle and look across the table at all of our imaginary friends.

I ordered this giant prawn as an appetizer. I placed a fork next to it so you can tell the size of the giant thing! It was enough for me to share a small piece with R.

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R ordered the cuttle fish for an appetizer. It was very chewy and not as delicate as calamari. I was not a fan of it and would not order it again, but it was very well seasoned and well-fried, not greasy or over done.

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I forgot to photograph what I ate. I ordered the sweet and sour shrimp and it was delicious. After eating, we meandered around and looked at the woodwork at the entrance to the restaurant. Simply gorgeous!

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This photo was taken from the window near the entrance of the restaurant. Even though I travel along the Epe Expressway several times a week, I never realized how close to the water the road is.

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We did not stay at the hotel; we ate and left. But it was a great experience and the service was very fast. We will definitely eat there again!

Until tomorrow, my friends…

A Little Slice of (Whole) Home

“Ugh! I hate those people who shop at Whole Foods!” R exclaimed. I rolled my eyes. Shopping at Whole Foods is one of my guilty pleasures. I have to call it a guilty pleasure because the store is expensive, but really, where else am I going to buy organic, bulk, hand made Epsom salt and perfectly cubed watermelon? Where else will I buy my kombucha and 100% organic cotton pajama pants? WHERE, I ask? Friggin’ Wal-Mart? I DO NOT THINK SO.

The truth is, I hate grocery shopping. Back when I was a very busy public school teacher, I used my Sunday mornings to trudge over to the Wal-Mart, which I will affectionately from now on refer to as Wally World.

I’d get up at some obscene hour on Sunday mornings, sometimes as early as even 9:30 am, and go to Wally World before the weirdos woke up. I was living on a public school teacher’s salary but still had the social skills of a rabid honey badger, so going early meant avoiding the people, but still saving money.

Nowadays, I allow myself the occasional pleasure of shopping at Whole Foods. And by occasional, I mean pretty much any time I am within a 1 mile radius of Whole Foods, I stop in, even if it’s just to buy one of those little checkerboard cookies that I absolutely live and breathe for. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten one and it should be a sin for them to sell them in bulk, for crying out loud. I once ate six in one setting and almost had to purge to rid my stomach of all the sugar. The next time I ate some, I only ate three, because I had learned my lesson and I’m totally a modest person.

What in the hell is the blog post about? Is it about Lagos or is it about Whole Foods…

Well, this past Saturday, I found a little place that is somewhat similar to Whole Foods, right here in Lagos. It’s called A New Earth. Sounds like the name of a grocery store from either “The Jetsons” or some dystopian future.

The little store is located behind some other store that is closer to the street. The interior is decorated with reclaimed wood beams and it’s minimalist, but chic. It made my little hipster heart flutter.

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They had a huge tea selection, which made me wild with excitement. In my version of heaven, every beverage is either tea or Coca Cola or matcha green tea. And speaking of matcha green tea powder, they sold it! It was very expensive, about $20 for an ounce or so, but I only use 1/2 a teaspoon per cup, so it’ll last a while. I LOVE TEA! What a great selection, too.

I also found this cute little coloring book, all with illustrations of life in Lagos.

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I did not buy the coloring book, but if I could have thought of a child who would want it, I would have. Perhaps I’ll go back and buy myself one.

The disappointing part of the little store was the fruits and vegetables selection. They were selling this thing, which was unlabeled. I have no idea what it is, but it peaked my curiosity (which is easy to do) so I photographed it. I did not have the energy to ask the clerk what it was, try to hear the answer, and still have to figure out what it is anyway. The label did not say what they were; perhaps they’re a cross between a banana and a cucumber? Hell if I know.

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The wall near the tea area was decorated with little flowers; that’s the photo shown at the very top of this post.

I was so excited to find a little slice of something similar to Whole Foods, right here in Lagos, and only about a 30 minute drive from where we live. It was a good day!

In my excitement, I drank a matcha green tea latte that night and drank two more the next day. Perhaps I’ll treat myself to another tomorrow.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

A Rainy Worker’s Day

“I have Monday off for some reason,” R informed me on last Thursday.

“What reason is that?”

“I don’t know, some holiday. I think it’s Worker’s Day.”

“Worker’s Day? What is that?”

“You know, umm, like Labor Day in the States,” he answered.

 

So, today was Worker’s Day in Lagos. I was interested in what Worker’s Day is, so I looked it up and found the article shown below. It does seem similar to the Labor Day in the USA. We did not go out today; we gave our driver the day off, as it seemed fit to do so. According to this article, the Worker’s Day celebrations in Lagos were peaceful; the celebrations in the country’s capital city, Abuja, were “riotous.”

Link on Nigerian Worker’s Day 2017:

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/05/photos-workers-day-celebration-across-nigeria/ 

The day for R and I was pretty peaceful and mundane. We ordered in Indian food at lunch time. I ate too much of it and I had a tummy ache pretty much for the rest of the day. But, I’ve learned my lesson. Perhaps I’ll eat some salad for the next two days to make up for my Indian food over consumption.

Last week, our driver very graciously cleaned the back porch area for me, so I decided to enjoy it while it rained. I think it’s coming up on the time of the year called the Rainy Season, so we will get more rain. After hearing the rain fall for hours, it was nice to go out and experience it. We have a screened in porch, so I took this video from the porch.

I also took a photo of the little bird that is shown in the featured image. Don’t think I’m crazy, but I swear that bird was lavender in color, like a grayish, lavender color bird. He was gorgeous. When I moved from the lounge chair to photograph him closer, he flew away. Oh well!

I spent about an hour or so outside, just hanging out, enjoying looking at the rain and listening to it in the background as I browsed the Internet, mainly looking at healthy recipes that I have no interest cooking. If only cooking healthy recipes was as enticing as eating cake and icecream.

What did you do today? Leave me a comment below. And as always…

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Gelato a La Lagos

“OMG IS THAT ANTHONY BOURDAIN?!” R exclaimed as we drove by the Radisson Blu hotel, located in the Victoria Island area of Lagos.

“OMG I THINK IT IS!” I replied, excited to have experienced my first celebrity sighting.

The stylish, tall, lean, and unimpressed man that we *think* was Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef, was standing outside the hotel, waiting on a car to pick him up.

We, the peons that we are, were driving just to the other side of the hotel, but still on the hotel grounds, to a little piece of heaven, a gelato shop named Hans & Rene.

“Should we go back up the hill and try to, uhhh, I don’t know, like, talk to him?” I asked R as I peered out the floor to ceiling glass pane wall of the gelato shop.

“Nooooooooo,” he replied. What else would I expect him to say?

I somewhat quickly became disinterested in the possibility of meeting a crabby celebrity chef when I remembered where I was. I turned to browse the cupcake area of the gelato shop. The delicious little treat that I hoped would be there, the pumpkin pistachio cupcake, was not there.  “It’s probably seasonal,” R said, trying to console me as I took a deep sigh.

I recovered from my cupcake heartbreak when a tall, young Nigerian gelato shop worker offered to give me a taste of two flavors mixed together. To be honest, when he offered the gelato sample to me, I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what he’d said, I just nodded and tried to seem pleasant. I figured that nodding and smiling was safe to do in a gelato shop. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen in a gelato shop?

Like I have mentioned several times in this blog, between my old people hearing abilities and the Nigerian cultural tendency towards what I affectionately call “low talking”, a lot of times, I have no idea what people are saying to me. Believe it or not, I am very good at picking up on accents and understanding folks, even people with very strong lisps. But the trick to understanding an accent is actually being able to HEAR the people talking. For me, in Lagos, that doesn’t happen often.

The shop worker accepted my nod and smile and proceeded to scoop a tiny bit of salted caramel with a tiny bit of pistachio gelato onto a little, pink, plastic spoon. You know the kind, apparently, little pink spoons are synonymous with gelato / ice cream no matter where you are in the world. I wonder what the guy who invented ice cream spoons does with all the millions of dollars he made by inventing tiny, pink, plastic spoons.

I tasted the seemingly odd flavor combination and to my surprise, it was AMAZING. I immediately asked the shop worker to give R a taste of the concoction. R’s eyes seem to glimmer a brighter blue when he tasted it. I was sold.

I asked for a little bit of both flavors, but I received two full scoops of both. Ah, oh, well, close enough, I suppose.

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R opted for a more fruity blend of gelato. I think his flavors were mango and blackberry.

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I am quite fond of H&R and now I have a great little memory to go with my tales of this place: a relatively sure sighting of celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain at the nearby hotel. Somehow, having seen, but not actually met, the fussy chef made my gelato taste better. Plus, the interior of this little place is just so cute and happy!

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Several children came into the shop after we sat down to eat. Each child seemed to dance in front of the display cases a little more vigorously than the last. Perhaps those children got to meet Mr. Bourdain and he had recommended this place to them.

We left H&R with bellies full of gelato (R’s belly more full than mine since he generously helped me eat some of my gelato as well as polishing off his own two scoops) and a box full of cupcakes.

Wherever you are in the world, tell me where your favorite place to grab a sweet treat! Leave a comment below.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

Wahoo is a Fish

“Uhhh, what kind of fish is this, P?” I texted R’s friend and co-worker.

“It’s WAHOOOOOO” he replied enthusiastically.

My brow furrowed. What the hell is a Wahoo fish and how the hell did I end up agreeing to take some?

P had gone deep sea fishing off the coast of Nigeria and he caught a large Wahoo fish. I agreed to take some of the fish off his hands in exchange for a baked good. I gave his family a dozen apple cinnamon cupcakes; he gave us a generous freezer bag full of Wahoo fish.

Now, in full disclosure, I don’t know anything about fish, or fishing. I know that fish live in water and that my favorite fish to eat is catfish. I also like salmon. Beyond those two facts, I don’t know anything about fish.

I have, however, honed my cooking skills a bit more while being in Lagos. I typically cook twice a day, five times a week. So, I make a LOT of different stuff and I use a LOT of onions. Lagos is definitely not the fruit and vegetable capital of the world; it is very difficult to find a large variety of fruits and vegetables and when you do find a bit of variety, the food can be astronomically expensive. One day, I will write about debating over whether or not to buy a $5 head of broccoli. Spoiler alert: I did NOT buy the $5 head of broccoli.

The Wahoo fish, however, was free and after it sat in the freezer, frozen, for weeks, I decided to pull it out and make a quick meal with a sauce. All of the tv chefs make things better with sauces, so I gave it a try.

The sauce for the fish dish pictured above had the following ingredients:

  • 1 can cherry tomatoes in juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon marscapone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 small diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups wilted spinach

Basically, I melted the butter, sauteed the onions and garlic until translucent, and slowly added all of the other ingredients and let it simmer. Season to taste. I served over jasmine rice.

I cooked the Wahoo fish in the same pan before making the sauce. I just seasoned it with salt and pepper and cooked it on medium until it was done. Then, I put the fish into the sauce. Served it all over rice.

Now, you’d think after months of cooking twice a day and years of watching tv shows about cooking and other years actually cooking (although no where near as often as I cook here) for myself, I would have more confidence about my cooking abilities. Well, I have good confidence, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty this sauce and fish turned out.

Wahoo fish is very, umm, robust. It’s almost meaty. It doesn’t not go quietly into the night. It is a firm, white fish, so the flavor is mild, but the texture is no body’s fool. It is not light and delicate. It’s like if Mr T was a fish. Yeah, it’s texture is like if Mr. T was a fish.

It was very good!

Try out my recipe and tell me what you think. What would you add or take away? Let me know in the comments.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

…Where Everybody Knows Your Name

“Madame, are you, uhhhh, from Ethiopia?” the server at Pizza Riah asked.

To a Black American person, the question was simultaneously hilarious, sweet, and confusing.

How nice of him to try to guess where I am from, and to guess that I am from another African country, I thought to myself.

“No, I am from the States,” I replied.

He smiled a confused grin.

“The what?” he asked.

“The United States, you know, have you heard of Texas?”

“OOOOOH YESSSS! TEXASSSSSSS!” he excitedly exclaimed. I didn’t have the heart to finish the sentence by correcting myself. I am not actually from Texas, but most Nigerians I have met have never heard of Louisiana. EVERYBODY AND THEIR MOMMA around the planet has heard of Texas. Most days, I decide that it’s close enough. Plus, Texas is closer to where I am actually from than Ethiopia.

“You look like us,” he reminded me, pointing to my skin and then his own. “But you sound like another place.”

I smiled.

Ever since that day, I love going to Pizza Riah even more. In Lagos, it’s kind of my version of the bar where the show “Cheers” took place. Was “Cheers” also the name of the bar AND the show? I am too lazy to Google it, but hopefully if you’re reading this, you’re not too old or too young to know what I am talking about. I barely know what I am talking about myself, but “Cheers” was a show about a bar where lots of friends met up and talked. Seems like the friends went there every day, which now, as an adult, I question, but as a kid watching the show, I just remember thinking, “Wow, those nice people sure do look happy and they have such big hair.” You know, it was the 1980s, I think. Again, I’m too lazy to Google.

Anyway, the theme song to the show “Cheers” had a line that went:  “Something, something, something, some times you want to go where every body knows your name….” so forth. I don’t remember the whole song. But, I do remember that everyone in the “Cheers” show did know each other’s names and it felt friendly and familiar.

Pizza Riah is the only place in Lagos that I have found that feels like that to me. Not only does that guy who thought I was Ethiopian know my face, so do all of the other servers. During my last visit, their faces lit up when they saw me and I noticed that they were downright almost nice to me. Nigerians are not known for their overt friendliness like Americans are, but these guys gave me smiles and I think an extra slice of tomato, too. I know for sure that I received at least two extra ice cubes. It was divine.

R took me to Pizza Riah my very first weekend here. I have now gone back a few times; this past time, I went alone. I love to go out and eat alone. I love the weird stares and pitiful looks I get. I like to look at those people who look at me with concern and give them big, toothy grins. Do you know why? I know a secret about those people. Chances are, they’re having a meal with some jackass who is not interested in what they’re saying or someone who is preoccupied with their phones. Me, I might not have a warm body sitting across from me, but I am not sharing my food or suffering the company of some jackass. So, I smile big and I mean it.

If you’re ever in Lagos and need some pizza and wings and some (potentially) friendly service, I highly recommend Pizza Riah.

I know I’ll be back there soon.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Lagos School Children

“Good evening, ma’dame!” a short haired little boy said as he walked quickly by me. I was shopping on an otherwise quiet aisle of the ShopRite.

Moments ago, I’d turned around to see two little male rascals round the corner of the aisle, running full speed. I instinctively gave them my teacher stare, the one that used to be the talk of the second grade hallways, as I could, and often would, correct a naughty child just with a glare.

The little boys in the ShopRite immediately stopped running when my eyes met theirs. As they began to walk, albeit quickly, towards me, I continued to glare at them, not even realizing what I was doing.

The other scooted by me, and in the same fashion as the first he said confidently, picking up his little head and showing me all of his little teeth, “Good evening, ma’dame!”

My heart warmed a little and I smiled a genuine, heartfelt smile at both of them.

“Good evening, little gentlemen,” I responded.

 

In a previous life, which feels like ages ago, but also one which affected me more deeply than any other experience I’ve had so far, I was a school teacher.

Teaching small children is not for the faint of heart. It’s also not just coloring, and stickers, and glitter, and paint, and the like, despite popular (and hilariously incorrect) opinion.

Teaching small children was probably the best opportunity I’ve had in my whole life. Teaching school prepared me for pretty much the rest of my life: working in corporate America, dealing with change, dealing with heart breaking difficulties, learning how to explain crazy things in simple ways, learning how to guard my tongue with amazing efficiency.

I can still go from sailor to saint in one sentence, all thanks to my time as a school teacher.

I don’t exactly miss teaching, though. Teaching was also the most painful job I’ve ever had. I wanted to save all the children; I wanted to punch a LOT of the parents square in the face. Perhaps I should erase that last line in case this is one day read by a principal who is considering hiring me, in the off chance that I return to the classroom one day. Nah, as the kids say: YOLO (you only live once), I’ll take my chance. Besides, notice I said I wanted to punch PARENTS, not children.

The children were mostly a delight, especially as I look back on the experience now, six years later, and literally half a world away. This time, six years ago, I was probably taking away some poor kid’s Popsicle for being naughty. No regrets, I’m sure that kid deserved it. Needed it!

Even though my tenure as a school teacher seems like a life time ago, I still recall my experiences fondly. And when I’m out in Lagos, I love to see the school kids walking around. The Nigerian children go to what seems to be different schools that have different, colorful sets of uniforms.

I don’t know how the color palettes work. I don’t know if these colors are for one school or if those colors are for a grade of child. If I had to guess, I’d guess that the colors represent some school.

Their uniforms are so colorful and fun that it’s just so delightful and heartwarming to see them walk down the street.

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The uniforms worn at the schools where I taught were mostly beige/ khaki bottoms and a shirt that was red, blue, green, or white. BORING.

Lagos knows how to dress their school children! COLORS GALORE! I think it’s so delightful.

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I took these photos from the car while out today. Forgive the quality of the photos; I took them from a moving car. But you can still get the idea.

My favorite is the photo at the beginning of this post. The two boys, dressed in their colorful clothes, walk down the busy street in Lagos, with the older one tenderly resting his arm around the smaller one’s shoulder. Even in the hectic, noisy, and hot chaos of Lagos, if you look closely enough, you’ll see little moments of sweet peace, just like this.

Until tomorrow, my friends…STAY COLORFUL and embrace your youth

My Favorite Thing about Lagos

Hey! You! Yeah, you, reading this. I’m talking to you. Stop laughing right now. Stop looking at the screen all funny like the title is not what it appears to be. You read that right. There is something that I enjoy about Lagos. Well, enjoy is a strong word. I should say, there’s something about Lagos that never ceases to amaze me. It’s the traffic.

Take a look:

Traffic in Lagos is like it’s own thing. It’s a part of life here that is so batshit crazy that I often just gaze out of the window with full confidence that something batshit crazy is about to happen.

I do not say that to be dismissive of Lagos. I know that being dismissive of other places, people, and cultures is a very American thing to do. We are often accused (sometimes rightfully so) of being very judgmental of other cultures.

I say that some things I see are batshit crazy relative to my experience in the States, where there are lots of laws about how traffic works and almost every large city has its very own driving culture, that vary from coast to coast.

But I think that the overall laws governing all things related to motor vehicles keeps interesting things from happening in traffic in the States. However, our lenient gun laws make traffic-related rage and shootings more common than I’d care to admit.

Here, in Lagos, I haven’t heard of anyone getting shot, but lots of other oddities are common.

  1. There are roundabouts. A roundabout is a terrifying thing to me. Perhaps they’re common in some US cities? In Houston, where I live, I can only think of one, and I think they only made it to protect a statue of Sam Houston, the founder of Houston, that sits in the middle of the damn thing.
  2. There are a lot of dump and construction trucks and a lot of them are  leaking fluids. I don’t know what the fluids are, but every driver I’ve ever ridden with *always* quickly moves from behind the dump trucks.
  3. There are sometimes art pieces in the roundabouts! You can see two in the video above: the silver, geometric circles and the metal cube standing on its side. The metal cube was installed just a few days ago.
  4. People drive pretty balls out and road rage is not as common as you’d think. There’s lots of weaving, cutting people off, changing lanes, etc.
  5. People ride motorcycles with almost complete abandon! No helmets, no tennis shoes, no shirts, no motorcycle jackets, no hands, no holding on. I suppose the traffic makes it impossible for the motorcycles to go so fast as to really mess up a rider if there was an accident, but it still seems so dangerous. A couple of days ago, I saw a motorcyclist with a passenger who was holding a huge box in between them. Just cruising along down the Epe Expressway holding onto a box. No big deal.

Dealing with the traffic has probably been my biggest accomplishment with adjusting to living here. The terrible traffic is both frustrating, but also entertaining, and I don’t have to actually drive in it. I sit in the back of the car while my poor driver navigates the horrors of Lagos traffic.

The traffic here also makes me so thankful when I go back home. During my last stint at home, I drove sometimes an hour across town, just because I could and just because I knew that traffic in Lagos was more horrible than in Houston. In that way, being in Lagos has really helped adjust my attitude for the better.

Where are you reading this? What’s the traffic like where you are?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

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