Thursday, June 30, 2011

Words...

As I am learning to live in a new land, I ask a lot of questions seeking to understand.  Often the answers are totally different than what I expect. 

Today, we passed a house with policemen at the gate and people gathered out front.  I noticed white tents on the property, so I assumed they were having a party.  Armed men were on the streets, yet no one seemed to be going inside.  When I asked about the happenings, Mutiu, our driver, simply said that the owner was late, so the people were around.  Late??  It was only 3:00 in the afternoon....Late from what?  Work?  When questioned again,  I was told "Late from London about 2 weeks".  Still baffled, I kept inquiring, obviously not understanding the conversation.  Mutiu finally shared that "Late" means dead.  (Yes, that would definitely constitute being late!)  He explained that the owner died in London a few weeks ago and was being brought back to the house to have a "wake-keeping".  They usually have a huge party to 'celebrate', so that explained the tents.  However, it did make me think that it's certainly better to be early than late! I'd hate to hear someone say, "Janet isn't here...She is late!"  

Many phrases here seem to end in "have".   For example...."I need an extension cord.  Do you have?"  It just seems like part of the sentence is missing to me.  "Do we need bread?"   "We have."  (So, does that mean YES that we have a need for bread or NO that we already have bread?)  Today, the maintenance man came up to our flat to hang 3 pictures.  I love it when they show up specifically to do a job with no tools or materials.  So after pointing out the walls where the pictures would be hung, I looked at his empty hands and asked, "Did you bring a drill?".  "We have."   "OK, where is it?"  "I come back."  So he leaves.....and returns with a drill containing an extremely large bit.  I inquired, "Do you have smaller bits for the drill since we don't need such a HUGE hole in the concrete wall for our small picture?"   "We have."  He looks in his 3 item toolbox and pulls out an even larger drill bit.   To me, "we have" just doesn't answer my question satisfactorily.  I persist with my questions and he leaves again to find a nail.....

Another phrase that I love is "Anytime from now".  When the question is asked, "When will it be repaired?"  "Oh....anytime from now."  Or "When will you return?"  "Anytime from now."  The surprising thing to me, is that this answer is accepted without question.   So I persist..."So does that mean tomorrow or next week?"   The answer is always, "Yes, Madam - anytime from now."   Jeez.....  

Another one I like is 'I am coming".    "Where are you - Mutiu?"   "I am coming."   "OK, but WHERE are you now?"   "I am coming."   "So, are you at the office?"  "Yes, I am coming, Madam."  Somedays, it is just better to give up and wait. 

However, I really love the word 'wahalla" and I like the way it just rolls off your tongue.  Wahallas are measured in sizes.  If you make the madam angry, there may be a BIG wahalla!!  :)  A gathering crowd on the street that causes us to turn around and go the other direction is a little wahalla.  Trying to drive down the street with rainwater up to the windows is a questionable wahalla.   Wahalla means trouble.............but NO wahalla is best.  It's used most often as in 'no problem'.   We are missing a piece...No wahalla!  No nails to hang pictures....no wahalla! 

So, anytime from now, if we happen to be late, a BIG wahalla we have....and we are no longer coming......

 
Capiche?

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Blog - Completed!!

I'm so thrilled with my new blog look!  Do you like it?   We've been working for months and it is finally ready!!  Thank you to Hannah Nicole and her talent for web design!   She is an impressive young gal, an artist, a writer and a photographer.  She is a homeschooling student and the oldest of 7 - and passionately worships the Lord.  She also has a personal blog called Aspire which showcases her lovely pictures and family life.  She is a gem!


When you get a chance, look around the new blog site.  We've added pages to introduce us, some favorite recipes (I'll add more soon), information on the Ishahayi Beach School (a worthy project) and our Travel list, just to help keep us straight with our goals.  And if you find that something doesn't work correctly, please let me know.  Oh - and feel free to grab our blog button to link to your blog as well. 

And to celebrate the new design, I'm doing a GIVE-AWAY- straight from Lekki Market!  It will be a random drawing for one lucky person who posts a comment below this site.   Just let me know what you'd like to see in a future post (or just say hello) and you are automatically entered!!  Since I don't have that many 'followers', you have a HUGE chance to win!!   It's a surprise treasure from Africa!  :) 

**Congratulations CHRIS B!  You are the winner of the African treasure! I'll bring it to you in August.  Thank you to all who posted!

Not the real gift  :)

The give-away will end on Tuesday night, June 28th, at midnight, U.S. Central Standard time. I'll announce the winner HERE on Wednesday.     See, a little fun is a good thing...and celebrations are even better!!

Thanks again for joining me on this blog journey.   

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Goodies

Goodies is one of our local grocery stores, so we go there often.  Next door and upstairs, they serve food in a little restaurant called Goodies House.  AND THEY SERVE DONUTS!!!  Our boys would love it!  

A few of us met for coffee (and donuts) before a sweet friend moved back to the states.  One of the hard things about living here are the many goodbyes.  It's not easy, even though our time has been short.  Friendships grow quickly in foreign locations, but moving is part of the transient nature here.  We will miss you Donna - at church, at Bible Study, at quilting and shopping in the markets!   
And we had to have a picture of our cute Bolivian friend who joined us later and her THREE cell  phones.  (Note one on the table)  This is typical in Nigeria since our phones go out a lot.  Each phone is registered with a different network, so at least one of them will work.  Silvia has young children and needs to be accessible at all times - therefore, she carries three phones in her purse!  :) 

Every time we go to Goodies, I have to laugh at this sign.  Too bad it was wet from the rain, but you get the idea.  I thought it was interesting that a sign was NEEDED.    It's comforting to know that money laundering isn't going on while I shop!

And since I was in Goodies with a camera, I thought I'd share a few pics.
The butchery staff wears orange shirts and yellow hats.  The cheese selection is wonderful,
but runs about 4-5 times the cost of the US.  I bought a small block for about $20. 
For a long time I couldn't find eggs.  However, I just didn't know to look
on a bottom shelf in a middle aisle - right by the sardines!

I loved the marketing for Fried Chicken Coating.  Anything else just isn't???? 


And the local pig's feet.  If you would prefer, they will cut them right off the pig
for you while you are watching!  We won't be having any of these.

Boxes are often left out on both sides of the aisles, making it hard to get to the shelves.  However, today it looked very neat since many times boxes are left in the middle of the row, providing a good obstacle course for the baskets.  I tried to get down one of those aisles the other day and an employee stopped me.  She asked if there was REALLY anything that I HAD to have from that aisle, since it wasn't easy to get through.  She explained that if I really needed to go down ALL the aisles that I could leave my basket at the end of the row and just get whatever I needed and bring it back.  I am learning, since it never dawned on me to shop that way before!   :)

And this is Goodies in the dark from our many power outages.  We just keep on shopping!

We see the magic corn kiosks in many grocery stores.  You can buy a cup of corn and eat it while you shop.  It is very nutritious!  I am not sure what makes it magic. 

Shopping is always an experience and usually very time-consuming.  Normally we go to 3-4 stores to get a small list completed, so we become familiar with them quickly.  I typically to go Goodies for American type products, to Deli's for meats, to Game/Shop Rite for cleaning items, to Park and Shop for cheese, eggs, breads and then to the vegetable/fruit stand for produce. 

And I just found a French store that sells WONDERFUL pan au chocolat and pain au raisins - Yum! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

1...2...3...

Do you remember the game as a child, where you would count Volkswagons or count things that were orange, or count anything outside your car window to prevent boredom? (Find the letter A, B, C, etc..)  

As I was traveling yesterday in heavy traffic with frequent stops due to gridlock, I decided to play the game and count in order to keep occupied. And the first thing I saw was the common occurrence of a man urinating, right on the street. I was in the car for another 30 minutes and counted up to EIGHT! I don't plan to make a habit of this particular counting game, but it is interesting to share the true sights of Lagos - the good, the bad AND the smelly!! Due to the frequency of these sightings (right in front of us - thank you very much!), the city puts up signs like the one below. In fact, notices can be found with the same message all over Lagos, and it is the most common "slogan" in the city.
There are signs written with paint on the side of buildings ...
And written on walls...
And on fences... 

Unfortunately with NO public restrooms available and a large part of the population living on the streets, this IS a problem with no clear solution.   And I often see people relieving themselves right in front of the signs, so the message is totally ignored! 

Today's paper also had a great picture of a few men in the act 'squatting' next to the local streams, since Lagos is really trying to highlight and curtail this practice.   I decided not to share THAT picture, in order to stay 'family friendly'.   :)

And on the main page of the Lagos State Government website today:
Governor Fashola explained, “Let us not forget that everything that we depend on, whether for food or for water, comes from how we use the land around us. If you pollute the land, it will go down to the ground water and it is that ground water that we will ultimately drink; it is that ground water that we use to farm and it is possible that that ground water will be ingested into our body with the toxin that will reduce or diminish the quality and longevity of our lives”.

And my favorite section of the site:
To Lagos residents, the Governor said, “When we ask you , therefore, not to urinate in the open, when we ask you not to defecate in the open, to dump your refuse in appropriate places and not in the drainages or water bodies, we do so because we care, not because we dislike you”.

A blog detailing our experiences in Lagos would be incomplete if I didn't share what we truly see day to day.  :)   I told you that I would keep it real!
    
And THIS is why we wear closed toed shoes when we go to the markets.  Aren't you glad that I clued you in? And you thought my life was totally glamorous! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kerosene

As an expat (expatriate) living in Nigeria, the life we lead is not at all representative of "normal" life in West Africa. We live in an insulated bubble filled with lots of security and comforts, not typical for 98% of the people here. "People like us" have water and air conditioning and electricity as well as gas for cooking and fuel for our cars - ALL things that we take for granted in the USA. The average Nigerian has a much tougher life and must struggle hard just for the necessities. 

Lately, I have noticed long lines of people standing around the gas stations in Lagos and clearly many of them are not happy.  There's been a kerosene shortage for the past six months, but recently the situation has worsened to critical proportions.  As I see lines spilling onto the streets, I understand that people wait many hours in order to purchase kerosene, but due to limited supply, they often wait in vain.  A few days ago, our driver turned around abruptly in the middle of the street, in order to avoid an "altercation" due to this problem.    


Most households in Nigeria use kerosene for cooking, since the cost of cooking gas is exorbitant. The government has put an official price on kerosene at N50 per liter, but sellers of the product exploit this market. Due to the shortage, some stations are selling it at almost 10 times the regular price! However, many areas just can't get any kerosene at all, so people are understandably unhappy. 


It amazes me to think that Nigeria is one of the top 10 oil producers in the world, but the nation's decrepit state-run refineries force them to rely heavily on imports for their own oil products. To have a shortage of gasoline or to have limited supplies of kerosene just seems impossible.

I asked Gabriel, our steward, about how his family was dealing with the kerosene shortage. His reply was that his wife was complaining every single day about standing in line for many hours, only to find out that it was unavailable or that it was too expensive. He said that the price was so high that they were cooking only when mandatory. His family normally uses a liter of kerosene every 2 days. He said that this was really affecting them since they needed to cook their food to eat.  

I also spoke with Mutiu (our driver) about it. He explained that things were so bad in his community that the kerosene was not possible to find. They have resorted to cooking with firewood, which means that they start a fire in front of their house in order to cook. The problem is that firewood normally runs N50 for 4 sticks, but they are now paying N200 for 4 sticks of firewood due to the kerosene shortage. He said that his family of 7 is really suffering. He hopes that the government will do something soon.


Many think that the shortage is an artificial one meant to drive up prices, and the online paper that I read daily confirms this sentiment.     

From The Nigerian Eye Online:
Kerosene, the petroleum product used in many homes for cooking may remain scarce and costly for a very long time. Despite Federal Government’s directive to the marketers to make the product available, members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) are hoarding it to create artificial scarcity. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) yesterday confirmed that IPMAN and MOMAN have been starving households of the stock. DPR’s confirmation came on the heels of an impromptu but scheduled assessment of the efforts being taken by the department to give effect to government’s directive to stop the lingering scarcity of kerosene nationwide.

In a third world country, things don't work as well or as fast as everyone would like. Most people just accept it as 'fate' and deal with whatever is in front of them. The people here have so many disadvantages, but it seems magnified, when kerosene - a basic necessity for living, becomes like gold.  My heart just hurts for them, but unless supply is increased or they release additional fuel, the problem will continue.    

As I thank God for my blessings, I need to remember to say thank you for cooking gas.  Our eyes are opened here with the things we take for granted at home...and we are humbled.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gabriel

Meet Gabriel....
Gabriel is our angel.   He is always smiling and has a great attitude.  And when Charles calls at 5pm to say that he is not coming home for dinner, Charles is in the doghouse with Gabriel - not me!  :) 

Gabriel spoils us.  He makes this.... 
Nigerian Chicken, Jollof rice and dodo (fried plantains)

and this...
Stuffed potatoes and peppers,
Spanish rice and salad,
with his special homemade dressing.

And this...
Tuna and Potato Salad with corn and peas. 
It really doesn't sound good, but it tastes wonderful. 
Interestingly enough, corn and green peas seem to show up in most salads and is very Nigerian.
 
Gabriel was a bit concerned that I took a picture before he finished making this yummy salad.  :)

Gabriel enjoys working on presentation, especially since he knows I like to take pictures of food.  He's very creative.  In the three months that I have been in Nigeria, we have only had a few meals repeated.   His repertoire is so amazing and I never know what we are having before I sit down for dinner, since I've gratefully turned over the control of our menu.  He does Italian, Greek, Asian, Nigerian, American, Spanish and Indian in addition to homemade bread and sauces.  He sits in the kitchen and studies cookbooks.  He enjoys learning new things and takes his cooking duties seriously.   He asked me the other day if I would teach him how to use the dishwasher, since he has never seen one before! 

And he prepares desserts too....
Coconut pie using FRESH coconuts that he cracks in the kitchen. 
He TOTALLY won me over with his flan....
Oh my goodness gracious!  Flan!!
  
I think that Flan looks much better when a large piece is taken out of it,
especially when that piece is sitting on my plate! :)

And did I mention breakfast?  We have breakfast every morning at 7am and Charles leaves for work at 7:25 for his 10 minute commute.  It's a nice way to start the day.  Pictured below is homemade bread toasted, fresh-squeezed orange juice and fresh pineapple, papaya and mango from the local market.  And I honestly thought before I arrived that I might starve to death living here.  I came packed with tons of peanut butter crackers and instant mashed potatoes in my suitcase. 

 Gabriel still thinks that is funny.  :) 


Gabriel also does our cleaning and laundry.  He even irons our underwear, which I have to admit seemed pretty weird at first.  However, we have since learned about the African tumbu flies which lay eggs on wet clothing.  Thankfully ironing everything kills them. Trust me, we do NOT want Tumbu flies burrowing into our skin!      So between sanitizing the produce, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing everything we own, Gabriel is MUCH appreciated - especially since he works about 12 hours a day! 


Gabriel lives with us in a tiny area called the BQ - "Boys Quarters".  Our BQ is right outside our flat separating us by 2 locked doors.  The first time I saw it, my heart just broke.  He had a tiny, thin child-sized mattress on the floor which had to be put against the wall in order to open the door.  His chair and mattress didn't fit in the room together. 
  Charles touches both sides of the BQ with his fingers.

We called a contractor and had a new bed built for the space, raising it high off the ground to give additional room. He has a little refrigerator which fits under his bed. We gave him a TV for the shelf at the foot of his bed, and his chair now fits in the compact room. The dimension of his 'home' is 6 feet wide by 7 feet long. His bathroom contains a tiny sink, a commode and a shower head. When the shower is turned on, the sink and the commode get wet and the floor has a drainage space right in the middle. His clothes hang on nails hammered to the back of his door. We had a mattress made to fit his new bed and he just kept telling us that it is "beautiful, just beautiful".

He is so proud of his new room. 
Gabriel works for us Monday through Friday.  He leaves early Sat morning for the 2 hour trip home and is back in time to prepare our 7am breakfast on Monday mornings.   He has a wife and 6 children - ranging in age from 14 to 30 - 5 girls and 1 boy.  For a long time, we thought he only had a son, since he was the only one mentioned.  To have a son is a source of pride.  He is proud of his girls, but his son is something special, especially since he is in theology school.  Gabriel also has a 5 year old granddaughter that lives in his home as well.   Someone has programmed her laugh for his cell phone, which makes me smile every time it rings.  Also, when we call Gabriel on his cell, we listen to 2 minutes of AMAZING GRACE before he picks up.    He works in his Catholic church and conducts marriage classes every Saturday.  He comments often (albeit kindly) on our marriage since he considers himself a bit of an expert.  :)  He has been married for many, many years, so he is certainly experienced!

When I asked Gabriel if I could take a picture, he wanted a copy of it ONLY if it was a good one, without a smile.   This was the picture that he liked best. He says that he doesn't like his smile because his teeth are rotting out.   Even though that is obviously true, he is so happy that his smile just radiates.  The serious picture (which is going home to his wife) just doesn't look like him to us, although it does look more 'professional'.   
I wonder if Gabriel (and family) would be open to relocation someday?  :) 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'll take a Chapman

Meet my new favorite drink.....
This is a Chapman – a typical Nigerian cocktail, which has been said to have originated in Lagos at the Ikoyi Club. I actually had my first Chapman at the Ikoyi Club within the first few days of arrival. Now, it’s my standard fare, wherever we go. Not only is it pretty, it’s also non-alcoholic and very, very good.
Here's the recipe.
1.  Fill a glass halfway with ice cubes.
2.  Add 3-4 Tablespoons (or a few capfuls) of Grenadine or blackcurrant juice to get the pretty red color.  
3.  Add 1 Tablespoon of Swedish Bitters (Angostura Bitters will also work).   This is the secret ingredient.
4.  Pour in equal amounts of cold Fanta Orange Soda and cold Sprite. 
5.  Twist in a slice of lemon, lime and orange. 
6.  Garnish with a cucumber slice and a bend-y straw.
7.  Sip slowly and smile as your taste-buds jump in happiness! 
Very citrusy, very refreshing and very Naiji! 
Enjoy! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Freezer Time

We have a freezer!! 

It's a minor miracle.....but we DO have a freezer!  

And I am HaPpY, HaPpY, HaPpY!!  :)

It didn't look promising last week.....

Or the week before.....

Or the week before that.....

In most places in the world, you just walk into a store, swipe your credit card and purchase an appliance.  Somehow I really thought that it would be the same here. 

Not that easy, friends......just not that easy!

Right after we moved here, we quickly determined that a freezer was a necessity!  Since we have become food hoarders and try to save every bit we can, we HAD to have a freezer.  Many of my friend's kitchens contain multiple freezers, so I knew that this should be an easy process.  Oh was I naive!   About 6 weeks ago, I started my research to determine the best brand, price, etc..  In hindsight, my research really should have been simpler.  I should have seen the one they actually HAD in stock and purchased it quickly.   But no...I went to 3 stores, compared prices, looked up the brands on the Internet and decided on the one I wanted.  With the decision made,  I went to the first store to make my purchase and was told...."Madam, we don't have THAT one, but come look at the chest freezer over here."    Let me add that my MAIN requirement was an UPRIGHT freezer, since the hall closet (where the freezer was going to reside) wasn't large enough for a chest size.  After being assured that it would be back in stock on Thursday, I decided to wait.  Let's just say that FOUR Thursdays came and went before I decided to look elsewhere.  Everywhere I went had a similar freezer and everywhere I went didn't have it in stock.  Everyone  wanted to show me the chest freezers and tried to help me understand that I could 'make it fit'.  In the meantime, since this is a cash society, I gathered up 3-4 inches of cash, put it in a bag just so I was ready to make a quick purchase.   Last week, I tried more stores.  The one I liked the best was CASH and CARRY.  I walked in, asked to see their freezers and was told that they ONLY carried chest freezers - even though various uprights were RIGHT in front of me.  Finally, I mentioned that I had CASH with me and I wanted to CARRY out a freezer today!!  The salesmen came out in droves - all to show me the upright freezers that were either way too small or NOT in stock.  They did however, have plenty of large body-sized chest freezers that they were SURE would fit in my tiny closet.   I think that I have visited every store in this part of Lagos that sells freezers.  Today, I walked into the grocery store and they had ONE upright freezer and they were willing to sell the floor model.  After haggling with the store manager, since it was more money than I had in my money bag, we finally agreed on the price.  I arranged delivery for tomorrow and put my LARGE amount of cash into the cash counting machine.  Everyone was happy!  :)

Within 30 minutes I got a call asking if they could deliver it today, since they didn't want to sell it to someone else.  By all means...come on!  On our way back home, we happened to pass a SPAR delivery truck sitting by the side of the road on one of the entrance streets.  Our driver stopped to ask him if he was delivering our freezer.  His phone had run out of batteries, so he was just sitting there hoping that we would come along and stop!   As we passed through the first gate, the guards wanted a 'dash' (tip) to let him through.  We haggled and haggled and finally paid a small bribe dash to facilitate entry.  We again had to talk to the guards in OUR compound to let the truck through the second gate and this time, we were more successful. 
Since the driver came by himself and I have never seen a dollie in Nigeria, he was soliciting help to get the freezer from the laying-down position to an upright one.  Then as they debated how to fit it in the elevator, I decided not to watch and went upstairs. 
Once they were able to get it into the flat, they proceeded to remove the packaging.  The freezer was on a Styrofoam piece with a box around it.  Instead of taking the box apart, they wanted to lift it off the top.  The problem was that the ceiling wasn't high enough!  After moving to a larger part of the den where the ceiling was higher, they determined that it still wasn't enough room to lift the top off.  The next thing I knew, they had taken the freezer out on the balcony and had leaned it against the railing pulling on the box top over open air.  I stood there in awe and prayed that the freezer didn't go over the balcony - 12 stories up!  I just didn't have the words to stop them! 
Finally, they were able to move it into the closet and get it set up.  They gave Gabriel lessons on how to OPEN the door and how to CLOSE the door, which took a good 5 minutes of explanation and demonstration.  When I asked for it to be plugged in, I was told that it needed to sit for a few hours to let the gas settle'.  What?  Apparently, after carrying the freezer on its side, the freon needed to move back to the right compartment!  And there was a little problem that the plug was TWO pronged, so we needed an adapter, then a voltage regulator and/or a UPS (universal power supply) to get it going. 
So tomorrow, we will purchase those items and get it all set up.  After I dashed the delivery man and signed the receipt, I pray that it will actually work when we plug it in!  And by the way, after all my research, I have never even heard of the brand Beko!   Have you?
It just makes me appreciate our new freezer even more!!  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Da Fruit Stand

This is my favorite place to buy fruits and vegetables.  It's located on Victoria Island right across the bridge from where we live.  It's about a 30 minute drive with no traffic, and more than an hour's drive WITH traffic.  It's basically a tin shack, open to the front, with a roof which leaks heavily when it rains.  I usually dodge the mud puddles on the way in, but it's the nicest one around. 
From the very beginning, the employees have treated me well and charged the same (or close) as they would the Nigerian population.  They pick out the best fruits and veggies and talk with me when it is not crowded.  They are accepting of my differences, so I keep coming back.  I am indeed welcome! 
Today, I was the only person there, so we had fun with some pictures.  Notice the lettuce above?  It is torn into pieces and sold individually instead of in bunches.  The avocados (green) have more of a point on the end and they get soft well before they turn dark.  The skins are much thinner than the ones in Texas.   The yellow fruit above (I can't pronounce or spell the name) is a cross between an apple and a pear - but doesn't really have much taste.  I think it might be a good filler for a fruit salad!  It was suggested that I take a picture of the apples and grapes since they had just finished arranging them.  This sweet lady (who sells and arranges the apple/grape section) was happy to be in the picture.   Grapes are a bit pricey at close to $10 a bunch!   
I also wanted a picture of Faith (in the green shirt below) and Adam, who are the two people that help me the most.  However, Adam didn't want his picture taken today.  He is getting ready to do some traveling and didn't want his photo on film, just in case.  I am not really sure what that means, but I decided that questions were not necessary.  Sometimes there are things that you just don't need to know.   Anyway, this guy volunteered to 'stand in' for Adam, but I am not sure who he is!  
Most of the people here never see themselves on camera, so after each shot, everyone crowds around to see the photo on the digital camera.  They are excited that I promised to bring a copy of this picture back to them soon.
Today, I was amazed at the size and color of the cucumbers!!  Yes, they are ORANGE!  I bought one of these to see the inside of it, but I understand that the flavor is the same as the small green ones.
This is a cassava (and potatoes).  I don't know what to do with a cassava yet, so I didn't buy any!   I am trying a new fruit or vegetable every week, just to discover the flavor!  Many of my new "unfamiliar"  purchases have been....well.....yucky - but I keep trying!   However, overall the fruits and vegetables here are wonderful, especially the pineapples and mangoes! 
Bananas here are plentiful and they even sell them in the middle of the streets.  The varieties are amazing!  The red bananas are unusual and very pretty.  Supposedly they taste just like regular bananas, so I'll try them next time.  Right now, we are banana rich in our house, so I didn't need any.  However, I did buy some nice looking plantains!  

All the vegetables and fruits get sanitized in Milton (bleach tablets) at home before they are ready to eat.  Every week, I go to one grocery store for meat, another for bread and misc, another for all the things that the first two didn't have and then the fruit/vegetable stand. (Last week, I went to SIX grocery stores looking for some specific items.)  Most of the time, I still don't get everything on my list, but I am learning to buy in bulk when I locate something special.  It's just part of the adventure!  But, we are eating well, so I have NO complaints!  :)