Surprise Birthday Party!!


Casey is such a sweetheart!! He surprised me with a cake and a party last night! I didn’t expect a thing! I was calmly typing on the computer in our room when he opened the door and called to me. I went out into the hallway and it was dark, so I thought the power went out. Then I noticed two candles flickering and looked closer to see a beautiful cake! He even had the bakery write “Happy Birthday Wura” with my Yoruba name. So thoughtful!

Our two friends who work here were there as well to witness the surprise and sing to me. It was so cute! We took the cake downstairs to the laundry room so everyone could have some. I was also surprised at how tasty the cake was! Usually Nigerian desserts aren’t too sweet, but this cake was very good. It was a chocolate sponge cake with whipped cream and a thin layer of raspberry jam. It was topped with hazelnuts and pretty flowers too!

We all had a wonderful evening! Thank you, Casey!!



Day 23: Happy Birthday, Leanna!

What a coincidence! It is our 23rd day in Nigeria and I am turning 23! Call it kismet :)

Well, what are CnL doing on this fine Friday? Casey is at work this morning, but he only flies two legs today, so he will be home early. I haven’t done much yet, since it’s only 11 AM as I type. When he gets back, we’ll figure out what to do. We have a “just add water” brownie mix, so maybe I’ll make that to celebrate!

What have we done the past few days? We made pancakes on Tuesday morning! They were very dense and doughy, but the Aunt Jemima syrup tasted great. We had to use a random pancake mix called “easymix flapjack” since we couldn’t find anything else but, luckily, we found Aunt Jemima’s Original Pancake mix yesterday. We will be making those soon.


Then we went to the office! We have almost been here for one month, which means that I need to get out of the country in order to renew my stamp on my visa. I’m only allowed to stay for 30 days at a time. We had the option to pay N24,000 ($152) to extend my stay for an additional two months, but we decided to try a different route: leaving the country for at least one day and then coming back. I could fly to Accra, Ghana since it’s the closest city to fly to, but any country would be fine. Since we need a lot of household items anyway to make this place livable, we decided to try to fly to New York next week! That way we’ll be able to buy a lot of cheaper items in the states and renew my stamp at the same time.

Our plan is to leave next Friday, the 14th, and fly to JFK for the weekend. Then we’ll leave the US on Monday, the 17th, and arrive back in Lagos on Tuesday, the 18th. It will be Casey’s four-day rotation. We had to go to the office to fill out staff travel forms and get them approved by his bosses. They love filling out forms here and leaving a paper trail, and we need a bunch of random signatures to give us permission to go. We filled out of the forms and left them with the Chief Pilot who said he didn’t mind us going, but he would need to discuss it with the DFO. We thanked him and proceeded to wait in the transport room for a ride back home. The transport room is where all the drivers sit and wait for people to take.


There weren’t any drivers available to take us back to House 69 just yet, so we walked to MM2 (the domestic terminal) for lunch. Casey ordered a beef shwarma, which was surprisingly tasty. Usually we would order chicken, but they were out, so we thought we’d give beef a try. It was tender and didn’t have too much fat, so I was pleased. Shwarma are very similar to gyros, except with a different sauce. Once we finished, we walked back to the office and were able to get a ride back home.


We didn’t do anything special on Wednesday, but Thursday (yesterday) we made Mama’s Oats for breakfast! Casey was sooooo happy to have this! It tasted slightly different, we think from the milk, but it was still very good.


After that, we went to the office again to check on the status of our forms. The Chief Pilot said the DFO approved of our travel request, but I needed to fill out a non-staff travel form instead of the staff travel form. The papers look exactly the same, except one says “staff” and the other says “non-staff.” I just copied my information verbatim. We obtained the Chief Pilot’s signature on our forms, and then left them in the DFO’s office. He wasn’t there at the time, so we left them on his secretary’s desk, who wasn’t there either.


As of now, we have verbal confirmation that we’re allowed to go, but we need the forms signed in order to get tickets. (Did I mention that they love filling out forms!) We have one week until our departure, and the approval process should only take one day, but you never know with this company! We will most likely have to go to the office sometime this week to make sure our forms are signed and tickets are “purchased.” I use quotes because no money is actually involved. Staff travel is free for Casey, and my ticket will be free too since Arik is “buying” it. In a perfect world, everyone would be on the ball and get the forms signed without us watching them, but we have to double check their work and make sure we get what we need!

We stopped by Goodies afterwards to buy some more food. We had lunch first, which consisted of a frappuccino for Casey, a chocolate milkshake for me, and a cheese pizza on Lebanese bread! Delicious! They don’t use any tomato sauce, so it could be improved upon, but who cares at this point. It was good!


We were unable to get an Arik driver to take us back, so we used a taxi instead. The driver was very nice, and we got home quickly. Luckily, Goodies is only 1-2 miles from our homestead, so it is in a very convenient location. We made cranberry chicken for dinner, another staple dish courtesy of Mama Rose. It’s a very easy, one-pot wonder: chicken breasts, onion soup mix, French salad dressing, and whole berry cranberry sauce. We couldn’t find the onion soup mix, so we just used the French dressing and cranberry sauce. It didn’t have quite as much flavor, but it was still very good. Next time, we’ll use more cranberry sauce and then it will be better. We both LOVE cranberry sauce, so smothering chicken in it will be delicious. We were so happy when we found whole berry cranberry sauce at Shoprite too! The photo below of the cranberry chicken isn’t the best picture of the dish, but trust me, Casey was a happy boy!


I will keep our families posted about our trip next week! I wish we had time to visit the west coast, but we need to make this trip short so they agree to let us go. Ciao for now!


Day 19: New (old) stove + cell phone light + cold water + leaky something = spaghetti!

Casey snapped this photo Saturday night, and it occurred to me that I need to take some good pictures of House 69 for everyone to see! I will attend to that later. For now, take a look at this. Our building (Block A) is directly to the right. Then you have Block B in the middle-right, and Block C is at the far end. The corner of the building on the left, behind the wall, does not belong to us.


That same night, we decided to try to cook in OUR kitchen! Even though it’s not completely ready to be used, all we needed to use was the stove, so we figured we could manage. There is our little stove! We also noticed our first visitor in the corner: a lizard. We think they eat bugs, so we let him stay. I forgot that we don’t have lights in the kitchen yet, so we used a cell phone for light, as you can see in the photo below. We set the phone on the counter above the stove. There also isn’t a water heater in any of the kitchens, so we must use cold water. (Luckily, there are water heaters in the bathroom!) I plan to get an electric kettle in the future so I can pour boiling water over the dishes after I wash them.


As you can tell from the title of this post, something was leaking! I noticed some water on the floor by the stove, so I thought I had spilled something. However, upon closer investigation, we think that the sink is leaking somewhere near the stove. How that is possible, I don’t know, since the sink is on the adjacent wall, but the pipe from the sink must run behind the cabinet to the right of the stove, since that is where the water came out from. We plan to have a maintenance person look at this whenever we can get one out here. We’re still waiting on the electrician to fix the refrigerator, hook up the deep freezer, and fix the AC units! Today is Monday, so we hope to get those things fixed this week. They refuse to do any work over the weekend, so now is our chance.


Cooking was a success, albeit in dim lighting. We made spaghetti again! A tried and true, easy, one-pot-wonder. We don’t have a dining table, so we brought the food upstairs to eat in our room. We also ordered some garlic naan bread from the Indian restaurant next door. It was a yummy addition. This spaghetti sauce isn’t nearly as good as my dad’s homemade sauce, but we’re managing for now. Once we get fully settled, I’ll make my own sauce. Mmm :) The garlic naan tastes just like the frozen naan we buy from Trader Joe’s though!


We bought a La Casera from Goodies a little while back and finally opened it up this evening! It is apple soda and tastes similar to Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider. We’ve been very good about limiting our soda intake, and we only had two Chapmans in August. This La Casera is our soda for the month of September. Casey loves it, so he savored every sip, and then he brushed his teeth! I washed the dishes in our bathroom sink since we didn’t have many to clean and also because we had hot water there.


Sunday! Casey was off, surprisingly, so spent the morning relaxing. We wanted to do something though, so we decided to check out the new mall nearby in Ikeja. I think it’s called Ikeja City Mall, and it houses Shoprite market inside of it. The whole mall was amazing! Definitely similar quality to what you would find in the US or in Europe. We were very surprised! It looked new, smelled like a mall, had name-brand stores, and pretty good food. Shoprite itself is like a Walmart equivalent in size and substance.


We decided to order a beef burger from Debonairs & Steers, a restaurant in the food court. The pictures in the menu looked awesome, but the burger wasn’t exactly like the photo. It was decent though. Usually we avoid ordering beef, unless we know it’s from a reputable place, but we were satisfied. This one was the Tropical burger, so it had pineapple and some sort of BBQ sauce, two patties and two slices of cheese. The fries had an interesting seasoning on them, which reminded me of the Korean Shrimp Chips we buy at home. I would recommend this place to others though. Casey decided to treat ourselves and got a chocolate sundae! It was soft serve, but slightly thicker than usual. It reminded us of Cool Whip, the frozen whipped cream. Interesting, but tasty.


Eventually, we want to get another desk and chair in our room. I tried out an office chair and it was nice. We might come back and buy it from that store when we’re ready for it. Casey liked the poster below that says “Tanks N1,000.” I’m not really sure why, but he thought it was cool. 1,000 Naira is about $6. Good price! There were so many clothing stores, so we definitely won’t be wanting for clothes.


After we ate and perused the mall, we went to Shoprite to buy food! If you look at the photo below, on the right, you can see a bunch of people standing around by the bread. The line for the bakery was SUPER long all the way to the right. I didn’t snap a better picture, unfortunately, but it was hilarious. It reminded me of the movie “Mother” where Beatrice says, “Well, it’s not the 30s. You don’t have to wait in line to buy bread.” At Shoprite (and Molly Stone’s) you do. Casey snapped a neat photo of me leaning over the poultry section. We bought some chicken with the hope of actually cooking this week. (You can see Casey in the reflection in the mirror too.)


After spending way too much time going repeatedly up and down the aisles to find what we wanted, we arrived back at “home.” Since our kitchen pantry isn’t fully functional yet, we needed a place to store our items. We decided to rearrange the room to create some more space. We moved the desk and mini-fridge to the left in front of the window, and then filled our piano bag with food. That’s our storage area for now. There appears to be more space. Maybe it’s a façade, but we’re pleased.


By the time we finished, it was 8 PM, and we were hungry and tired. We decided to order a chicken pizza and, yes, more garlic naan from next door. We heated up some spaghetti sauce to make everything taste even better! I’m getting tired of eating on the bed, but we managed again. At least we ended a good day with a good meal. Casey is such a pleasant guy with a great disposition. I’m starting to get irritated with our situation, but he doesn’t complain as much and remains cheerful. Both our families know that he has more patience than I do, and I really admire him for keeping his spirits up. In turn, he lifts my spirits as well.


As I said before, today is Monday. Casey is at work all day, I just finished this blog post, and now I need to eat lunch. He called our contacts in maintenance, so hopefully we can get the ball rolling this week. The engineer already came to check out our present situation, so now we’re waiting for forms to be filled out and money to be issued to buy new things or fix old things. No one is initiating anything, so Casey tried making phone calls to remind people of what needs to be done. Everyone is always waiting on someone else, and we can’t fill out any forms ourselves, so there’s really nothing we can do but urge people to do their job.

It’s an interesting situation. As my sister pointed out, it’s better to be polite to management and stay on good terms, but it’s really hard to do that here. We tried stepping aside in the beginning and asked for things nicely, but it’s been two and a half weeks, and all we have to show for it is a semi-clean bathroom (which we paid for ourselves to expedite the process), an old stove, and an empty deep freezer which can’t be put in the kitchen since the outlet needs to be fixed. The reason I’m losing my patience is because people make lame excuses when they don’t want to help us, but it’s ultimately their job to keep this place livable. We have permission from the DFO to fix it up, and he even said we could buy brand new appliances, but the other employees want to repair everything. That’s fine if they want to repair it and save money, but at least they could actually initiate the changes and expedite the process.

Alas, enough rambling! Let’s hope this will be a good week!