Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Money, Money, Money

The official currency of Nigeria is the naira.  The picture shows 2630, which is about $17.50 US.  Since this is a cash-only society, people plan ahead and carry what they estimate will be needed. (No credit cards or debit cards used here!)  We saw a man on Saturday carrying huge stacks of the bills wrapped together into Shoprite - just right out in the open!!      
This was the stack that I took to the grocery store today. There are also 1 naira coins, but they are only worth about 2/3rds of a penny, so you never see them.  The paper money here is large and very old and it seems like 'play money' to me still.  I decided to try out a new store today called Pack and Shop.  It was indeed nicer, but this is the road we had to take to get there.  I wish you could see the dips and holes!  It was a lot like a roller coaster, which is why we drive an SUV and I don't do the driving!   
At Pack and Shop, my grocery bill totalled N 15,750, which gave me a bit of a shock.  It takes a lot of time to count out that many bills and I kept pulling them out of my purse!!   That amount converts to about $100 US, but we still didn't find everything we needed.  I took Gabriel with me, since I don't know brands or what we had at home and he was a lot of help.  I did point out a few items that I never EVER wanted to see in our kitchen (cows tongue, pigs feet, etc.).   I prefer to stay far, far away from the delicacies of West Africa - at least initially (and probably forever).  Afterwards, we drove to Goodies Supermarket, which has a good reputation for meat among expats.  On the way home, we stopped to purchase our fruits and vegetables at a roadside market and I used the very last bill I brought!  I'll take pictures of the markets when I feel a little bit more comfortable.  It is common to go to three or four stores to get items from a small list, so shopping is very time consuming.   Be very thankful for your local Kroger's and Target stores!  I have a new appreciation for them. :)  Prices in the US are also much cheaper since we pay double to five times here for the same type products - when we can find them!

The food is in process of being sanitized now.  Everything is brought home from the store and washed well, then soaked in a bleach type solution for 30-40 minutes.  Then it is rinsed again and wiped dry before it is stored.   It's a process, but absolutely necessary for food safety.  We did the same thing when we lived in Mexico City, so it's not new to us.  Like Mexico, we can't drink the water here, so I am getting used to brushing my teeth with bottled water and praying that I don't forget! :) 

So far, I am finding life here better than expected.  It will take some adjusting and I'm sure that I'll have hard days ahead when reality sets in.   But for today, I choose to rejoice!! 

Thanks for "sharing" my initial impressions of Lagos and joining me on this journey.  It makes me feel a little less alone in a foreign land. 

More soon!

Janet

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