Saturday, April 30, 2011

Simply Royal!

I was invited to THE wedding of the year!  


I was thrilled to get the invitation and really excited to attend!!
  

Oh it was breathtaking and such a fairy tale come true!! 



The dress was absolutely stunning - classic and beautiful. 



And to be up close to see Prince William tell Kate that she was beautiful.....and then watch as he whispered to Mr Middleton..."This was supposed to be a small family affair!"  :)  


And the kiss on the balcony with the roaring crowds…….twice…..so amazing!  


OK - not the REAL royal wedding in London, but up-close and personal via BBC TV.  However at THE wedding party held in Lagos, we were just as spellbound and enthralled as we would have been in Westminster Abbey.   


 In fact, it was even better.  We had a running commentary on the dresses
and the decorations and the hats - Oh my!


We had a butler in a tuxedo to welcome us upon arrival. 
   And Prince William and Catherine even showed up!  


We had a royal trivia contest and the winner was named "Queen of the Castle", receiving a crown, a "Queen" snuggie for her special chair and a replica of Kate’s ring donated by our own British “Ambassadors”.    


  We had a demonstration of the royal wave from our very regal hostess! 


We had wonderful food with coronation chicken, mimosas, Pimms, stuffed royal eggs, English cranberry scones, finger sandwiches, mango chutney dip and a real wedding cake. We celebrated in style and enjoyed every single minute.


And what wedding event is complete without African vendors on the patio? 


KT, this piece is on the way to you soon via a “royal” friend who is headed your way.  J 


 I think I am ready for a honeymoon! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Child-like eyes


When our boys were little, they loved to stop and look at everything, kneeling down to get a closer view of bugs and leaves and cracks in the sidewalk.  I would stop with them and put them on my lap to marvel at life through the eyes of a child.  Everything was new and fresh and exciting to them.  And as their mother, I had the privilege of experiencing things that had become commonplace to me, through the new and precious eyes of someone who had not experienced life before. 

In Nigeria, I feel like my eyes are opening again as I experience new sights, new sounds and new smells.  I want to see everything, to touch it all and to experience it....with the newness of a child.  There is so much activity right outside my door and I want to be right in the middle of it all.   I am learning and absorbing a new culture and new ways.....and I am inspired like a child to share it all with my friends.  However, like a child, I can't find the words or the descriptions of most of what I am experiencing.  It is just too big and too much and not tangible in ways that can be expressed.   It has to be experienced firsthand, right here, with one's own eyes.   One minute I am in awe, the next in tears and then so excited at the things right in front of me.  I seek to understand, but it takes thousands of questions that don't have answers.  I want to see this new land; I want to love the people and to see a purpose here.  I want to learn new things and have all the experiences that I can.  A new world has opened and I am a part of it AND I want it to be a part of me too.  I have already discovered that after life in Africa, one will never be the same, but will be so much better just for the experience of being here. 

**Picture above shows the traffic in Lagos. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beach Day!

We were invited to spend the Monday holiday after Easter at the beach, and we quickly accepted.   The only way to reach this particular beach spot is by boat - so we set off on our 45 minute journey.  To me, the boat ride is worth the trip, since I love just being out on the water!  

The beach is so peaceful and relaxing.   We were there about an hour, before the vendors arrived and set up their wares all around us. 

When the shopping site is just a few steps away, it's pretty tempting.... 

So, after some bargaining, I bought a tablecloth similar to this one.  My colors are the same, but instead of elephants, mine has flowers and a woman using a yam pounder in the center.  :)

I also liked this apron, but didn't buy it - this time!   I need to pace myself! :)
A local guy started the grill for us and then cooked our shrimp and sausage that we brought along with grilled bread.  It was a perfect beach lunch!  
 

We enjoyed a long walk on the beach and thought we'd check this vacay spot out.  You never know when we'll be in the market for a beach hut! 

Just in case it's hard to tell, there is only a partial fence and the 'hut' is missing! :)  But, it has potential!  What do you think?

These are lots of other beach huts along the way....

 I liked this one from the owners of Bottles Restaurant. 

 And this one has a small pool. 

 This is Exxon-Mobile's beach hut - which I like the best. 
Most of the huts are not up close to the water.  This may be why!  As you get to the water line, the trash is amazing and small fishing boats line the area. 
After looking at the incredible undertow, I wouldn't want to be out in these. 

As we got ready to leave, people showed up out of nowhere to carry our bags.  This lady just took the cooler and put it right on top of her head!  She is a strong lady, since it was heavy! 
The children wanted to help carry things too.  See the little girl (about age 3) carrying the white plastic bag?   

As we were ready to get on the boat, the children stood around with us.  The girl in the blue skirt (about 8 years old) is carrying a baby on her back.  It's just a different world in these little villages.

And on the way home, we passed a Safmarine ship.  I just KNOW that this is our Maersk container being delivered to the port!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rejoice!

Happy Easter! 
He is risen!

Today I am thankful....
*For new friends
*For a wonderful Easter Brunch
*For a welcoming new church
 *For a Texas Mom who included our boys in their Easter lunch
*For a new mirror, so I don't have to use the elevator for a full length view.
*For a Texas neighbor who notices when our sprinkler system is
'gushing' and for taking the time and effort to reach us in Africa 
*For invitations to the beach
*For God's gift of his son and his victory over the cross
*For my lizard-in-the-house capturing husband
  *For a computer that works
*For emails, facebook, phones and Skype which keep me connected
*For a new dresser in our bedroom with added storage. :) 
For a good driver who dodges okadas, vendors and obstacles to get us to our locations.  
*For tonight's dinner prepared in the frig - ready to be warmed
*For air-conditioners that work, even when the thermostats don't. 
*For Easter greetings
*For family - even when they are far away
 *For memories of past Easter holidays, which I hold close to my heart.

May your Easter blessings be many!
He is risen indeed!  
 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cultural Heritage of Water

A friend invited me to attend a lecture at the National Museum of Lagos for International Monument Day and I am so glad that I was able to go!  This year's theme was The Cultural Heritage of Water in Nigeria.   The animated speaker and the lecture were both excellent!
We learned about the many festivals and traditions centered around water in Nigeria.  The  museum staff also showed a few of the African masks representing water spirits.   These spirits dominate many of the belief systems, local culture and art - even today. 
The water masks are typically worn horizontally on top of the head in order to replicate all manner of floating forms - canoes, fish, lizards, snakes and even hippos.  The mask below is held in the correct direction with the 'hat' below the creature.   
After the lecture ended, the speaker asked for questions and/or contributions. Various people stood up and 'contributed' to the speech by sharing the current traditions regarding water in their local villages, which was so interesting.   We were given water, cokes and muffins as our snack after the talk, which was nice and unexpected.  We adjourned to the parking lot to board the museum bus for our 'field trip'.  We were able to crowd 14 of us in this little bus, which is really hard to see in the picture below, since we added an additional person in each row right before we left.    
We journeyed to the Old Secretariat Building in Lagos, which is a British colonial style building built in 1906.  Today, the building houses the Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos.  
I thought the clock was pretty.  The fact that it hasn't worked in years - just a minor detail.  :) 
In Nigeria, we are very careful about taking pictures due to government restrictions and fearful people not wanting to be photographed.  However, this group was a picture-taking-bunch, which gave me welcomed freedom to take as many photos as I wanted.  They even requested a group shot, so I quickly added my camera to the pile.  Basically this is a gathering of 5 oyibos (white/foreigners) and the museum staff. 
The Old Secretariat Building is a beautiful relic, but I'm not sure that it's been cleaned much since it was built. :)   The architecture was wonderful and I loved the pink bricks!   
Here's the official sign stating that the building is on the National Monument registry.   
The stairs were sturdy and beautiful.  Can you see the dirt on the walls and floors? 
We had lots of group pictures.  
It was interesting to see the many rooms which have been used for over a century.   Every office opens to the outside to capture the breezes off the ocean.   
The porch and ceilings have held up well over the years.  I liked this sign for the Director of Public Prosecutions.  
The fans were pointed out over and over again to us.  When the original fans stop working and can't be repaired, they just add another one.  To take the fan down and replace it would jeopardize the historical standings.     
These are old files from years gone by.  They were part of the tour, but I wonder if they would fall into pieces if anyone picked them up to view them. 
The library contained books dating back to when Nigeria was under British rule.     
The law books of Nigeria are also on display, but not very well preserved.   
It didn't take us long to figure out that we were a part of the 'tourist attraction' too.  It was funny.  The locals were busy taking pictures of us, and we didn't miss an opportunity to take pictures of them!  :)     Everyone seemed to enjoy it. 
This door has a natural faux finish - dirt!   I thought it was attractive though.  
The Deputy Director/Liaison Officer, Mr. Ateboh stopped working to conduct the tour and he was so gracious.  We were melting in the heat, so I know he was hot in his business suit! 
I learned so much today...both tangible and intangible.  This was such a wonderful day learning and experiencing the culture of Nigeria.  And ending it with new friends and lunch at the Lagos Yacht Club - perfect!!  What an experience!