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…

John Mayer is LIFE

I just got back from the John Mayer concert in Phoenix and all I can say is WOW. I am so glad that I came here for this concert because the set list was very different from the one he played in London. I am now contemplating going to see him for a third time, in The Woodlands, Texas, this weekend. I am thinking, “How many set lists are there?!”

Despite being seated between two dead fish and two social media assholes, errm, I mean “junkies”, I had the best time ever. It would have come in handy to have someone with me, to sit in between me and the ditzy broads aka the social media junkies, but, I survived their presence and was able to really enjoy the concert.

I had a pretty darn good seat; by the time I decided to buy a ticket, the best available I got was still several sections from the stage, but I am really happy with the view that I had.

Plus, I figured out that if I kept hitting the girl next to me with my purse, “accidentally”, of course, she would move over to take her obnoxious videos and selfies. It worked! The people to my left should have been kicked out; they were like sitting next to corpses. The people in front of me were also corpses. The people behind me were overly talkative, baby boomers, but at least they were lively and didn’t constantly take photos. Gah!

Enough of my complaining! I tried to keep my own obnoxiousness to a  minimum by only capturing the first ten seconds of several songs, instead of attempting to record entire songs at once. Let’s get to it!

First, let’s look at my earrings and t-shirt. Here’s what I wore to the concert:

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And here’s my ticket!

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And here are some videos from the performance. I won’t post them all, but here’s a sampling. These alone should encourage you to go to your nearest computer and buy your own tickets to see JM before the summer tour ends. If you click on the video, it should show in the correct orientation.

Oh man, all of that good music has me very tired. But, I’m not too tired to share a few photos that I snapped!

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John is known for his intense face contortions during live performances. Tonight was no exception. His face makes me an even bigger fan than I am already.

Whew! What an exciting night. Since I wasn’t feeling 100%, a part of me just wanted to nap in the hotel room all night. But, as soon as I exited the hotel, I could feel the energy in the air (the venue is just across the street). I joined all these thousands of other John Mayer fans and I found some energy to get in there and enjoy John Mayer. I am so glad that I found the energy to go; it was some of the best money I’ve spent.

It’s on my bucket list to somehow meet him one day, maybe get a photo with him!

Until tomorrow, my friends…ROCK ON!

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!

 

Not in Lagos, but It’s Still Hot Here

Hey y’all,

I am back after a hiatus. I don’t know about writing every day again, because I feel like a fraud writing on a blog called “Life in Lagos” when I am not currently in Lagos!

But, I do love this little blog and all of the dedication it took for me to write everyday for several weeks. It might not seem like much, but it was a great exercise in discipline for me.

Today, I arrived in a super hot place, even though it’s not Lagos: it’s Phoenix, Arizona. I am here to go see John Mayer ( YES, AGAIN!) before he ends his stateside tour.

I am already quite fond of Phoenix, even though I don’t know if I could live here. It is super, super hot, but the people have been friendly so far and I love all of the desert plant life that line the streets.

Traveling to other places, whether near or far, stateside or abroad, is my favorite thing to do, hands down. Even the miserable places help me see home in a new light: I always return home with a new understanding of it and the people there, having been to a new place and experienced a new place and the folks in the new place. Also, traveling makes me wish for some things to change about my home, and gives me a renewed appreciation for it as well.

I often think about how very, incredibly, outrageously fortunate I am to travel as much as I have. I know lots of folks have traveled more, but I am thankful for all that I have gotten to see so far in life.

The other great thing about travelling is getting to understand just how limited your own view of the world is. Unfortunately, if you don’t put yourself out there to be uncomfortable, your opinions, views, and life can become a little narrow. It takes some amount of courage, a willingness to get out of your comfort zone, to travel. I think it takes some amount of courage as well, to travel alone.

I am here, in Phoenix, alone. And I’m here to tell you…IT’S NOT SO BAD!

I can’t say that I prefer to travel alone, but I can say that sometimes, it’s quite nice to do things alone. I say that mainly because if you wait around for other people to have the inclination, time, money, or interest to go with you, you can be left waiting around for a long time.

I have a very small, but diverse, group of friends, but many of them have different lives, time commitments, and interests from my own. I am often left wishing for someone to go with me to do stuff, but it’s not always an option. And that’s ok; I am very thankful for the friends I have *and* also thankful that over time, I have grown a little courage to go do things alone, like travelling to Phoenix.

I will also say that once you fly back and forth to a VERY foreign country, like Nigeria, alone, well, flying to Phoenix alone feels like taking a shower alone…almost mundane and certainly not terribly frightening (unless you’re trapped in a shower in a Hitchcock movie, I suppose).

The LAST good thing I will say about doing things alone is you can be as strange and quirky as you’d like! There is no one there to judge you or disagree with what you want to do. When travelling alone, you can take the word “compromise” and throw it from your vocabulary!

With that said, here’s how I spent my first few hours in Phoenix, Arizona. Don’t get too excited because, SPOILER ALERT: I spent the day being kind of random.

After flying from Houston to Phoenix and enduring a PAINFUL two hour, eleven minute flight, filled with the sounds of screaming children of various ages, I picked up my sad little rental car and decided to just start driving.

After I left the airport, I started driving towards some, errm, mountains in the distance. I am not sure if they’re actually considered mountains and I do not know the name of them yet. But, I tried really hard to photograph them.

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It took several, several tries to get the photos shown above. Most of the photos I took will trying to capture the mountains in the distance were of highway signs. Many of those turned out pretty good, though. Good for me to see the good in the mistakes.

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The first thing I found was a Panera Bread.  I had a large salad and two bottles of hydration because, you know, it’s Arizona.

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During the lunch, I found that there was a mall (somewhat) nearby that had a Legoland. I did not want to go inside of the Legoland place (children + summer = no thanks), but I did want to go visit the large, red octopus outside of the Legoland place. When I got there, I discovered that the octopus was made of LEGOS! OMG! I was excited. I shamelessly took these photos, trying to crop out the admiring children that also huddled around the creation. Damn kids, always ruining things! Ha!

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I tried to take lots of photos of the red, Lego octopus because he was SO COOL and so beautifully detailed. Eventually, the shame over took me, and I returned to my car and continued to drive around the mall.

I ended up stopping at the Neiman Marcus Last Call, which is like the place where Neiman Marcus goods go to be picked up by the higher middle class. I say higher middle class because most of the things I picked up still cost $100 or more, but that is still quite affordable, when compared to regular Neiman Marcus prices.

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I did not buy anything at the Last Call store because 1) I did not see anything that I love, 2) I am still affected by the minimalism Netflix documentary that I watched a few days ago, which is why I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t LOVE anything I saw and 3) see above explanation about lots of stuff costing over $100.

It was nice to look around, though! I eventually wandered into the rest of the mall and continued to browse. I left after I developed a head ache (air travel almost always leaves me with some kind of minor ailment).

After that, I drove to the nearest Starbucks. I do not have a photo of my experience there, but I do have a short story to share. The young woman in the car in front of me just SAT THERE when it was her turn to advance into the drive-thru lane. I waited, and waited, and waited, seemingly forever, but probably only about 30 seconds. I figured she was just a flakey, teenage driver, so I pulled around her. I looked at her when I drove around, and yes, she was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. When I pulled in front of her, she began to blow her horn! I realized that the poor, ditzy, and slow moving young lady thought I had intentionally cut her off. Since I am the most wonderful person ever, I actually backed up, pulled out of line, allowed her to go first, and got behind her. I wanted to punch her and flush her phone down a public toilet, but I think someone somewhere would be proud of how I tried to fix my own faux pas, even though I think my actions were justified.

The young man working at Starbucks was so delightful, he made my goof up with the young lady go away, at least until I tasted my iced tea and noticed he put lemonade in it. I did not want lemonade. But, it was cold and cost $5, so I drank it.

Here are a few other photos from the highway, taken while in transit to the hotel.

 

I love all of the desert plants that dot the highways here. It is the desert, but they have done a really lovely job of planting greenery to look at as one meanders down the freeways.

Also, did you know that there are Waffle Houses and Whataburgers in Arizona? I didn’t know that!

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Lastly, I drove past these little houses that were so delightful to me. They’re kind of short and flat, and they remind me of a little house I lived in when I was an undergraduate in Louisiana.

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All right, that is it for today. I still have a couple more days here and I am looking forward to what other random fun I will have here in Phoenix.

Have you ever visited Phoenix? What was your favorite thing about this place?

 

51st Post and My 5 Minute Gratitude List

Tonight I tried to brainstorm lots of things to write about, but I came up empty handed.

The truth is, like I wrote before, every day isn’t an amazing, crazy adventure, whether you’re living in the town you grew up in or in a very foreign place. Life is what you make of it, but I don’t think we should obligate ourselves to make every day amazing or crazy.

The past year or so has thrown me for a loop; there have been lots of good news and bad news, change, stress, and adjustment for me. To be honest, nowadays, I quite enjoy simple, low stress, no excitement kind of days. Life has given me enough excitement and stress to last me a good long while.

Perhaps, I’m also just getting older. Even though I almost constantly obsess about what I should be doing, my mind and body have grown into a kind of peaceful tiredness. I am rejecting some of the worry that I used to embrace with open arms. I thought worrying was a part of doing. I now understand that it isn’t.

So on days like today, when the most interesting thing I did was iron three shirts (which is totally out of character for me, which is why it was quite interesting), I have learned to be deeply thankful for the nothingness.

But, no one wants to read about nothingness, so I struggled to know what to write about today, until I came across a writing exercise. The writing exercise was to write a list of the things for which you are thankful for 5 minutes. The instructions said to just write and don’t worry about putting the things in an order, or getting to a number. The purpose is simply to be mindful of your gratitude for 5 whole minutes.

So, for today’s post, I will share my 5 Minute Gratitude List and some photos, taken this year, as I peacefully strolled down a street in the Museum District of Houston, Texas. Enjoy!

 

My Gratitude List

Being alive

Being mostly healthy

My hair is growing back

Electricity

Internet access

Medical insurance

Food

Opportunity to learn how to cook different kinds of food over time

Resources to buy tools that make cooking easier, more fun

Sharing my knowledge of cooking and baking with other people

Tea

Soy milk

Air conditioning

Socks for my cold feet at night

Clean drinking water

Always having had access to glasses and/or contact lenses to correct my poor vision

My own computer

The ability to read and write

Cell phones / blogs / ability to communicate easily with friends and family while traveling or at home

A place to go in the States / a home

Friends

Family

My education

My mother and other family members teaching me the value of education

All of my senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, speaking

The opportunity to work with / teach young children

The opportunity to work with / teach young adults and older students

Courage to go against the grain / go against things my peers do or did that do not align with my values

My own mind and set of values

My book collection

My cats

 

 

And…photos from a nice walk in the Museum District.

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Also, this is my fifty first post! WHOO HOOO!

Until tomorrow, my friends…

Arriving Back in Lagos

Arriving back in Lagos at 5:15 am was both a blessing and a curse.

Blessing: Plane didn’t crash; safe arrival.

Curse: Plane arrived in Lagos.

Coming back to Lagos after over a week in one of my favorite places in the world was no easy task. It took all of my strength and mental fortitude to board the plane. But, I knew that Lagos would have some of her well known craziness just waiting to welcome me back.

Let me regale you with some stories of foolishness, Back in Lagos, Day 1:

Getting off the Plane:

The woman sitting in the row in front of me asked for my assistance in retrieving her oversized, over stuffed, knock off Louis Vitton bag from the overhead compartment. She’d put the big, stupid bag in the compartment two seats behind her for some reason.

“Your bag is really too small for the stuff that’s in it. It’s way over full,” I said as I struggled to get it. She reached up to try to help me. I nastily said, “I will do it or you wait and do it yourself.”

^ I am not usually such a short tempered person, but you know, when in Lagos. It also annoyed me that her bag was knock off Louis Vitton; just buy your bags at Wal-Mart (or whatever the equivalent is here) like a decent person. Don’t support counterfeiters, but whatever, I will get off my moral high horse.

Her next bag was a blue, hard sized roller bag. I laughed when she asked for assistance with that one. I impolitely informed her: “You will have to wait on that one.”

Her jackass of a companion, who had listened to several videos OUT LOUD on his phone during the flight, eventually came along and retrieved the blue bag.

When it was time to go, I snipped at R: “Come on R! You’re back in Nigeria and you’ve got to fight! Did you forget?”

Yes, I said that, out loud, on land in Lagos, in a plane full of Nigerians. I’m sure most of them agreed with me in their heads and hearts. R quickly remembered that we’re not in London anymore and it was time to get aggressive in order to get through the line to get to immigration.

Since the plane was full of Nigerians, the line for the non-Nigerian passport holders was blissfully short. It only took about 10 minutes to get through the line. Every other time I have traveled here, it has taken a minimum of 30 minutes to get through immigration. That time can be compounded as the guards allow Nigerians to cut the line to be serviced first, even though there are two lines devoted to Nigerian passport holders.

After making it through immigration with no fanfare, we waited on our bags. I went to the toilet and two women inside who were the attendants asked me for a blessing (that’s Nigerian slang for a “tip”).

I told them I had nothing, and they both began to tell me about how they have not been paid for 2 months and how they had nothing to eat last night.

One of the ladies was wearing heavy eyeliner and lots of decent looking makeup and a wig. The other lady was wearing decent looking weave. I thought, “No money for food but better hair and makeup than me?” I asked, “Why do you continue to come back here if they do no pay you?” They told me they had no where else to go. I thought that was an odd answer, so I just excused myself.

Later, I wondered if they were just making up the story about not being paid in 2 months. I wondered if I was being judgmental about them. So, I decided to do a Google search for news stories about workers not being paid. I actually found several, but this is one of the latest ones I found, in case you’d like to read about this in more detail, and from a more reputable source than an American reciting what I was told by 2 bathroom attendants.

Nigerian Has a Culture of Not Paying Its Workers and Its Not Going to Change Anytime Soon

After the bathroom fiasco, we got our bags and attempted to make it through the security search. The bags are searched for “security purposes” (emphasis on the quotation marks).

Let’s be frank here: White people or any other non-Nigerian looking people are searched; Nigerians are not.

Now, it’s ok to be a nationalist and take care of your own and show preference to your own people. BUT, being on the other side of the unfair treatment REALLY SUCKS.

So, today, when I was asked what was in my bags, I answered in circular logic until the customs official got annoyed and waved me out, angrily telling me to “Just leave.” Thanks, dude.

My brown skin helped; my accent probably did not. I am not a rule breaker; I never bring un-allowed things into any country. But, I openly hate being treated like a lesser than person because I am not Nigerian. I also openly hate to see R treated like an even lesser person because he is not a Black person.

The rest of the day was uneventful and thankfully, I was able to catch up on a lot of sleep and drink a gallon of water.

Here are two videos that I took on the bus ride home. Leaving the airport so early in the morning allowed the bus driver to drive like a bat out of hell. Or should I say a bat out of Lagos. Ha!

Enjoy the videos and until tomorrow, my friends…

London Day 4

I have decided to write as I go along, so that I don’t forget anything along the way.

This is such a great opportunity to spend a lot of time in this beautiful city and I am thankful in so many ways.

My first stop was Holborn Underground Station, where I caught the tube to the Notting Hill  station. I wanted to walk around Notting Hill, which is a lovely little neighborhood.  Some of the buildings are pastel in color. I haven’t walked past any yet, but I hope to see some while I continue walking.

I decided to come here to visit a place for brunch called Granger & Company for something called an Aussie breakfast.

I’m not sure where the folks here learned to season food, but everything I have tried, aside from the hotel restaurant which has delicious food, has been BLAND city!

This was my Aussie breakfast. I feel full and have energy but it wasn’t the most enjoyable food. Perhaps the food and the walking is how the Londoners stay so fit and happy.  I walked about a mile total to reach Granger & Company and this is the food I had when I got there. Ha! I feel kind of sad about how much I paid for this food. It was £21, which is about $27. All that money and still no flavor.

Oh, and I forgot to take a photo of the outside of the place but I actually sat outside, in an effort to avoid waiting for a table inside, which was about a 45 minute wait. I hate waiting for tables at restaurants and some part of me knew the food wouldn’t be good enough to wait that long anyway. Ha!

So, I enjoyed this food in about 50F weather, with a creepy dark haired girl standing directly behind me most of the time. It was kind of an exercise in self torture. Being American, I am quite self conscious about how I eat (we have the stereotype of being hoggish eaters), so sitting outside, in front of a long line of foreigners watching me eat was essentially a level of hell for me.

But YAY  for courage and new experiences and continuing to push my discomfort levels during this trio.

Another thing that makes me a little uncomfortable travelling around alone is using the public transportation.

Yesterday, I was on the wrong bus for about 30 minutes before I realized it. But at least I realized it and found my way back to the hotel. And I figured out what I had done wrong without asking for help.

Big red buses of London, we will be friends before I leave, got damn it!

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After the filling, yet tasteless meal, I walked around Notting Hill. WOW! What a gorgeous and safe feeling place. I know that every big place has crime, but it is a little comforting, oh, who am I kidding, it is very comforting to know that everyone walking and driving by is not possibly carrying a gun. That’s one of my favorite things about doing things in countries that are not America. I love you America, but I am not a fan of the liberal gun laws.

I’ll probably be deported just for writing that, but YOLO. I don’t own a gun.

Anyway, back to the beautiful houses of Notting Hill. It is close to Kensington Gardens, too! My favorite photo that I took today is at the top of the blog post. Simply gorgeous!

I also photographed this super happy, Pepto Bismol pink little car and this beautiful street sign.

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I also saw these Mexican food signs. I took photos of them to show my friends back home that Mexican food is loved all around the world. There’s no place in the world better to eat Mexican food though than 1) ACTUALLY IN MEXICO or 2) Houston, Texas. I am partial, but I am usually disappointed when eating Mexican food outside of Houston. I did not dare go into either of these establishments because eating bland Mexican food would send me into another dimension, because bland Mexican food should not exist.

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I know that London is a beautiful place and I love it for all its’ history and charm. But did you know that this lovely city also has a FANTASTIC store called Primark?

I don’t know what the hell PRIMARK is, but to describe it to my American friends: Have you ever wished that Forever 21, Target, and Marshalls had a bastard love child? If so, then you would LOVE Primark!

I discovered the awesomeness of Primark when I got off the bus that the Marble Arch bus stop, near (or on? I was confused and using the hell out of Google Maps to navigate) Oxford Street.

When I got off one bus to change to another bus, I noticed that Primark was busy like people were getting free dollar bills just for standing outside of it. So, I crossed the street (I am happy to report that I now have the confidence to jay walk if a local person does it) hurriedly and checked out the Primark. But, I feel like this place should rightfully be called PRIMARK! It deserves all caps and at least ONE exclamation mark.

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I bought several things from Primark that I will share in another post, but the several things I bought ended up being only about $64.92.

Ah, this post is getting long, but I can’t bear to leave without sharing this video that I took from the bus when I left Primark, on the way back to the hotel. THIS GIRL WAS JAMMING!

 

I am going to try to return to Oxford street before leaving London. If I lived here, I would pretty much just hang out on Oxford Street and wait for street performers. It was so awesome just to see from the bus.

Today was such an AMAZING day. I feel like London loves me almost as much as I love it.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

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…

 

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…

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