All About Food

It’s been an extremely uneventful month here in Lagos. When we first got here, Casey worked a lot and I stayed at the hotel. He went on various nightstops during the week, and I was left to my own devices, which meant reading up a storm, watching Netflix, and knitting/crocheting. (Yes, we’re able to watch Netflix here! The only caveat is that we can only see the European content instead of what’s available in the USA, but that’s not so bad.) I don’t mind sitting here doing my own thing since I’d be doing these same things back home anyway. Luckily, my crafts travel well.

But now, he’s been off for a while, and we’ve just been on vacation! Woo hoo! Per se. Since there isn’t too much to actually do here, we’ve been treating ourselves to good food! Lots and lots of nice meals. That’s what I’m going to share with you today.

The first of our many Domino’s Pizzas!! We really love pizza. That’s pretty fortunate considering that it’s one of the best foods here in Lagos (to us, anyway). It’s just as good as pizza in the US, and their delivery service is SO quick! In 20-30 minutes we can have a fresh pizza at our door. Yum.


A few months ago, Casey discovered a new restaurant called Truffles. It’s only about 10 minutes away from us, and they serve amazing food! The quality and taste is wonderful. We’ve gone there numerous times already and ate fettuccini alfredo, chicken quesadillas, mini hamburgers, fish sticks, sweet and sour chicken, mini pizzas, and more. The red drink below is called a Chapman. It’s a very common drink made of a combination of the following ingredients: Sprite, Fanta, Angostura bitters, grenadine syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, and garnished with a cucumber, lemon, or lime. It’s really quite good. It tastes like a fizzy fruit punch. Casey got a vanilla milkshake one day which was very mild but good. (I love all of his varying expressions in these pictures.) 


Another fun, new place is Ocean Basket! It’s a seafood restaurant originally from South Africa. I’d say that Lagos isn’t known for their seafood, but this place has some good quality fish, albeit imported. We’ve been twice and have enjoyed our meals. We’ve tried the salmon, fish and chips, fried calamari, and grilled sole.


We went to the Sheraton Hotel one night and they had a Tex-Mex buffet. We had chicken fajitas, carne asada, some spicy beans, and another Chapman. They also had an array of super tiny, super cute desserts which were much cuter than they were tasty. But it gave me the idea to make extremely tiny mini cheesecake slices! Adorable!


One of the take-out places we order from is called Shawarma and Co. Casey gets a falafel shawarma and I get a chicken shawarma. I think shawarmas are originally from Lebanon, so they use Lebanese bread, which is similar to pita bread but much thinner. They consist of various vegetables or coleslaw, a meat or main filling, and some sauce. Many places serve shawarmas and all of them are slightly different in flavor and ingredients.


The best cupcake place is at the mall. Other bakeries just don’t know how to make cake. At all. And then there is always COLD STONE! We love ice cream, so we love cold stone. What can I say.


Last weekend, we went to Lekki Market and Victoria Island with our friends, Jose and Ben. I wanted to do a little shopping at the market, and then we had a great lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (of all places) and a coffee shop (again, of all places.) The first picture is outside a place called So Fresh. They have one location on the Island and another location right by our hotel. We’ve been ordering smoothies almost every day and they are delicious! 100% fresh fruit smoothies! Who would have thought there would be a place like that here. Not us, for sure, but we are grateful to have a location so close to us that delivers too. Even better!


Then we went to Cafe Neo. Casey said the coffee quality was really good. Apparently they want to open a location close to us, so hopefully that is true. He would be very happy.


I hope you enjoyed our little food tour. Food has become the highlight of our stay here, so it’s fun to find new places. We’ve been having good luck finding some quality restaurants in our vicinity. Thanks for reading!

P.S. We checked out a new mall the other day. Casey had fun trying out their virtual reality ride and a hoverboard. He said the virtual reality was just subpar, but the hoverboard was much fun.




The Trip Back to Spain + Thanksgiving!! + Updates

Well it’s been some time since I’ve written because Casey and I have been so busy. Doing what? Relaxing? Yeah we haven’t done much here this week besides relax, shop, cook, and plan for another trip, but I’ll get to that.

Right before leaving Lagos, there was a rainstorm, and I have a couple cool pictures to show you. Casey was working, so we were both miles away from each other at the time. However, we both took a picture of the storm cloud from our vantage points. Mine is from inside the hotel when I first saw the dark storm cloud, and Casey’s (as you can imagine) is from the airplane looking at the storm from above!

IMG_20141118_142612IMG_20141118_162911IMG_20141118_142612 storm cloudIMG_20141118_162911 storm cloud

That’s my view from the hotel window. You can easily see the dark cloud brewing above me. Casey’s photo is a little more intricate. The whole, huge cloud looks like an anvil with a pointy end on the left side. This point shows that the storm is moving towards the left, as the green arrow indicates. Pretty cool huh!

Anyway, the next day we left Lagos and flew to London. Arik sent a van to pick us up, and we loaded all of Casey’s luggage that stays in Lagos (four bags and a bike!) into the car.  The hotel we were staying at didn’t have a storage room, so we went to the pilot compound to drop off his things. These bags hold all of his food, a piano, some clothes, and anything else he wants to leave in Lagos.


On the way to the airport, we passed by a “Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Mission.” The sign even says “FREE!” That’s pretty nice. You always see those cleft lip commercials on TV, so it’s neat to see an actual surgery center in person. I mean, it’s too bad we have the problem to begin with, but at least they’re doing something to remedy the situation.


We checked into our flight and had a few hours to spend before leaving. We bought a meat pie and a chicken pie for lunch; they were tasty enough. We’ve had better meat pies in our day. There used to be a nicer restaurant that we’d eat at, but they changed it into more of a bar with smoking allowed, so now we don’t go there anymore. On the plus side, they are adding a KFC in the airport! So hopefully next time we will be able to eat there.


I laughed at Casey and took a picture because he blends into the chairs!!


We walked around the terminal and window-shopped. What cool Monopoly games! I was very tempted to buy them just for fun, hehehe.


I was also tempted to buy this doll! It’s called “Queens of Africa” and her name is “Wuraola,” which is my Nigerian Yoruba name! I can’t remember who gave me that name, but I’ve been using it here for a couple years. No one remembers my real name, but they call me “Wura.” Cute! For the record, I didn’t buy the game or the doll.


FINALLY, we boarded a very very very very hot plane. The APU (auxiliary power unit) wasn’t working, so they couldn’t turn on the air conditioning system until the engines started running. The APU provides power and cool air to the plane without needing to turn on the engines. It’s actually illegal to board a plane with the engines running, so they needed to get all of us on board first and then start the engines to provide cool air. Everyone was using a magazine or the safety information card to fan themselves. It felt like they had the heater on because it was so warm!

Luckily that didn’t last too long though. We had cool air after ten or fifteen minutes and then we took off. Casey and I treated ourselves to a Pepsi, and there was a baby in front of me who kept smiling and reaching out his hand to grab mine.


The flight was about 6-7 hours long and it felt like it! We talked, Casey played a couple computer games, I watched him, and we ate the inflight meal (chicken with spicy rice). We were sitting in the middle of the plane, so we didn’t have a window to look out of, but he went to the bathroom and took a picture of the desert below. It was cool to see such a vast desert with sand dunes and all. I got bored and laid down. The flight wasn’t full so that was great. We had a row all to ourselves.


While laying down, I looked up and noticed that there was no 13th row! It goes from 12 to 14. I never noticed that before. A normal picture was too dark and didn’t show the numbers, so we had to make it brighter. We landed at London Heathrow and checked into the Yotel – the airport hotel. The rooms are small and compact but super nice for a one night stay, mainly because you don’t have to leave the airport! I just love that idea. Anyway, we went to a restaurant next to the Yotel and shared a niiiiice BBQ burger, fries, onion rings, and a salad. Yummy!


We got up early the next day for our flight to Paris. Breakfast consisted of a strawberry yogurt smoothie, an apple strudel, and a blueberry muffin. The bathrooms were nice and high tech with an air dryer above each individual sink. That’s convenient.


Casey was happy and we were wide awake all day. The people across the row made us laugh with their sleeping positions :)


The view was just beautiful as the sun was rising! I love the colors of the sky in the early morning and at dusk. Just gorgeous to see it from an airplane.


I liked that Air France gave us croissants for a snack. Very French. The flight attendant asked us if we wanted tea or coffee and, when we both said no, he looked genuinely shocked! It was quite amusing.


This next photo clearly shows a huge sun beam through the clouds! That was awesome! I said that someone was coming down and Casey said someone was going up.


And then we landed in Paris. We were supposed to have about an hour layover, but our flight out of London was delayed, so we had 20 minutes to walk quickly through the airport and find our next flight. I snapped our journey through the airport, which was very modern and looked nice from what we could see. 


We got to our gate in plenty of time since they were just starting to board. Whew!


Casey was eating peanuts and I asked him to give me “just a few.” He started me off slowly with half a peanut…  how generous. We were hungry for lunch since we didn’t have time to grab food in the airport, so we bought food on the plane. I got some chicken-flavored noodles which were alright. I’m used to spicy, Korean-style noodles with kimchi so this didn’t have quite as much flavor, but it was filling. Casey ordered a bocadillo, his favorite sandwich with jamón, cheese, and tomato. It was satisfying for both of us.


We landed in Valencia and Abel was there to meet us at the airport! Since our connection time in Paris was so short, our bag didn’t make it to Valencia. Abel warned us about this ahead of time though since he’s taken this particular flight from London to Valencia as well. We decided to come back to the airport the next day and pick up our bag. We were on one side of the baggage office and Abel was on the other side. You can see him in the window with the yellow arrow!


At the airport in London, we bought some fun Italian chocolates. They are limoncello flavored, which is a lemon liquor. They were good, and they actually have quite a strong liquor flavor. I really just liked the tin that they came in, haha.


Casey was happy to be back in Spain in a comfy apartment with everything we need. We were still a little hungry so we rode our bikes to that new Tex-Mex place called Tako-Away. Abel, Maria, Martina, and I went there right before I left for Lagos a few weeks ago. Casey enjoyed it too!


That night, we went to Abel and Maria’s house for dinner and dessert. They made hamburgers from horse meat and ox meat! Horse and ox! Wow! What do you think about that? There is a special butcher shop that sells pre-formed hamburger patties, and they have all different kinds of meat: horse, ox, beef, bison/buffalo, chicken, duck, turkey, pork, and vegetarian. Then they have all kinds of seasonings and flavors too. Interesting!


The ox tasted like typical beef, but the horse was incredibly lean and tender. It was probably similar to venison in the leanness and had an ever-so-slightly gamey aftertaste. I could tell that it wasn’t beef, but it was pretty good if you didn’t let your mind get the better of you.

It was Casey’s birthday, and they were so sweet to pick up two mini desserts for him! A blueberry cheesecake and a chocolate cake. Adorable and tasty!



And thus began our past week back in Spain! We’ve been to my favorite restaurant, Las Lunas, a couple times… here are some more pictures of the amazing dishes.


They are just works of art! With presentation and amazing flavor profiles and ingredients. All of their dishes are so new and unique but taste so good! They had THE best lemon tart too! I definitely need to recreate that dish. Wow. The lemon tart is the one on the left.

We went to McDonald’s one day because I was craving a fish filet, and we discovered that they have easy order kiosks here! How cool is that. You insert your credit card (you can’t use cash), choose what you want on the touch screen, pay, get a receipt, and wait for your number to be called. Super quick and easy. They should have those kiosks in the US! There were upstairs and downstairs eating areas but every single seat was taken. It was so packed. Luckily, we found one seat so Casey let me sit while he stood. How gentlemanly.


He ordered a chicken wrap and the box made me laugh because they list the ingredients with pictures. What a cute little chicken! Afterwards, we went to a gelato café next door and got two gelato macaroons. They were like ice cream sandwiches with vanilla and chocolate brownie-cookies. Mmm.


The picture above is funny because the elevator going to our apartment smelled like smoke, so we both covered our faces. Yuck!

Casey created a recipe for his new favorite breakfast that I make for him now. It’s two pieces of toast with jam and an over-easy egg. He named it the J.E.T. which stands for jam, egg, and toast. I use my dad’s steaming technique to cook an even easier over-easy egg and it turns out perfectly!


There is an American store nearby called “Taste of America.” They have a lot of products from the US, and we went there to buy a plethora of ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner! We found canned pumpkin, StoveTop stuffing, and cranberry sauce. I’m sure you can tell what we ended up making the next day.

As for that night, Abel and I are standing in the regular market where he needed to pick up a few items for his house. THEN we ordered pizzas from an Italian restaurant called La Strega (which means ‘”the witch” in Italian) across the street from their house and they were phenomenal! Amazing! Delicious! Wow! They tasted like Nikki Lee’s and Grimaldi’s pizza with an extra flair of New York Style Pizza and Italian Goodness. Mmmmmm. I really really liked it!




Yay it’s here! Casey and I went to the market to buy all the additional ingredients that we needed. I cooked the meal at our apartment, and then we brought all of the food to Abel and Maria’s house. They really enjoyed it! I made turkey from turkey fillets, sweet potatoes, stuffing, roasted asparagus (for something fresh and green), cranberry sauce, bread, and pumpkin pie! All of the dishes were new to them but they seemed to like everything a lot.


Of course they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, so they don’t have any whole turkeys. Our plan was to buy chicken instead, but we found these turkey fillets and decided to give them a try. They were pretty good actually. At least they had the same texture as when you roast a whole turkey, so they served us well and went perfectly with the cranberry sauce. (A shout out to my sister: Look at the Little Becky Marshmallows hehe. I didn’t notice it until I opened the bag.) Casey then snapped me a bunch of times while I was preparing the pumpkin pie.


We didn’t have much room to cool the pies, and I don’t have a cooling rack, so we used the next best thing: the drying rack! Hey, it worked. We packaged everything really well in take-away containers and loaded up our bike bag like a delivery service. Then I bought fresh bread on the way to Abel’s apartment and we were all set.


Casey was playing with Martina’s toys to try and make her laugh :D


And here is the delicious meal! The ingredients were expensive at the American store, but it was well worth it. Even Martina enjoyed it, and she REALLY loved the pie. It was so cute seeing her gobble up the filling, and she asked for more whipped cream.


I made some delicious homemade hot chocolate yesterday! Both of us agreed that it’s probably the best we’ve ever had.




I had to blog about all of this before we leave for our next trip TOMORROW (Saturday the 29th)! We’ve decided to take a week off (per se) to explore southern Spain! We’re going to take the train and visit Seville, Córdoba, Ronda, and Málaga. We’re bringing our bikes to help us get around, and we’re going to stay in each city for two days. Once we reach Málaga around December 7th, we’ll decide if we want to visit a few more places or return to Valencia. It should be fun! We’ll take some great pictures for you all too! I’ll write if I can during our trip; otherwise, I’ll write once we’re back in Valencia.

Thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! And ciao for now!


Football Anyone?

Casey looooves playing football, which is soccer as we know it in the USA. He’s like a kid in a candy store when he gets to play football. That’s good though, since it’s a really good workout and he gets to hang out with his friends. He’s played twice since I’ve been here, and it’s quite fun to watch! I’m fairly easy to entertain too, so plop me on the steps with my camera and I’m good to go.


Saturday, November 8th

Of course, the first step is getting there. Most of the “football players” stay at the designated pilot compound, but Casey and I are 10-20 minutes away at a regular hotel (depending on traffic). Usually he rides his bike to the compound, but since another pilot and I were going too, we opted to take a keke instead. A keke is this three-wheeled vehicle below. Some people don’t like riding in them, but we don’t mind. It’s cheap and fairly quick since they can go around cars in smaller spaces. We had to take two kekes in order to get to the compound that day because traffic was so bad. The highways are set up very inefficiently (in my opinion) because you usually have to go past the street you want and then make a u-turn. And when the traffic is really heavy (which is most of the time) it takes forever to get anywhere! So it was quicker for us to take a keke in one direction, get out, walk across the street, and pick up another keke on the other side instead of waiting in traffic to make a u-turn.

So this picture shows our second keke. A woman was getting out of it as we were getting in. It worked out well.


The guys play in the middle of the parking lot, and this truck was sticking out much further into the “field.” They put it into neutral and pushed it out of the way.


Warming up in a circle. Everyone is a pretty decent player too, so there are good passes and entertaining goals to watch. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.


I like how Casey is leaning in the next two photos. Kind of funny!


Bring it in! They were tired! You can’t tell how sweaty these guys get, but it’s a lot. Trust me. Whew!


They were kind enough to listen to me and pose for a group photo! Those are the steps that I sat on to watch them as well.


We came back to our hotel and Casey decided to go for a swim. He enjoyed it!



Sunday, November 9th

We decided to treat ourselves today with good food! And ice cream! But I’ll get there, I will. First off, we walked to the end of the street, hopped in a keke, and took a 5 minute ride to our favorite store, Goodies. There is a bridge we have to cross and underneath it is a huge jungle area. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but it is deep and green and probably extremely hard to get out of.


Casey snapped a picture of me inside the keke. It’s almost fun like being at Disneyland and sitting in the two-seater cars to ride Snow White or something. Almost.


You might remember Goodies from one of my many previous posts. It’s owned by Middle Eastern people and has tons of American products that we are familiar with. Casey was thrilled to find his favorite cereal here! Basic 4! They did not have this cereal when we lived here a year ago. They have remodeled a little bit and have many new products that I would have loved to have when we lived here. Alas.


We went upstairs to the new restaurant to order lunch. Sometimes their English vocabulary isn’t the best in Lagos, so it always cracks me up to see how they spell words, such as “broasted chicken.” Is it braised? Is it roasted? Is it just spelled wrong? They have new placemats with a new motto too: “When it’s that Good, it’s Goodies.’’ It’s catchy though!


Anyway, Casey ordered a yummy frappuccino, which he usually orders at Goodies. Then we decided to try a chicken fajita (spelled “fahita”) and a “fish burger.” We were pleasantly surprised!! We’ve had chicken fajitas at another restaurant and they never come in tortillas, so it was normal to get this in a sandwich roll. The flavor was delicious though with chicken, peppers, onions, and cheese. They put mayonnaise on it which was unnecessary, but I would gladly order it again. Casey’s fish sandwich had a wonderful piece of thick, breaded fish with tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato, and sweet pickles. He could have used more tartar sauce, but the flavor was still very good. We were quite happy to get such high-quality meals! We also found out that Goodies delivers, so we look forward to ordering something when we’re back at our hotel. Nice!


After that, we walked across the street for some ice cream at COLD STONE! Yeah! You might remember that we’ve been to Domino’s Pizza and Cold Stone before in Lagos, but it’s about an hour away in Victoria Island. When we lived here last year, we heard that they were opening up a Domino’s Pizza in Ikeja/GRA which was close to our apartment, but we didn’t know when it would actually open. As luck would have it, they opened up right after we moved back to the US! I was greatly disappointed, but I had to remind myself that we have Domino’s and Cold Stone in the US… so life wasn’t that bad, right. Just unfortunate timing. Anyway, Casey has been able to enjoy good pizza and ice cream for the past few months now, and he’s been anxious to take me to this location. [It’s within walking distance of our old apartment! A long walk, but still capable of walking to it. Amazing! I need to let it go that they opened up this location right after I left.]

So we came here to treat ourselves to some good quality ice cream. Yum! Casey got his favorite cake batter with brownies, and I got my favorite mint chocolate chip with brownies… mmm. We could not have been happier. I would say that it’s the little things that make one happy in Lagos, but ice cream always makes me happy in any country, so I guess that cliché doesn’t fully apply here :)

Oh and Domino’s Pizza delivers! That’s great! Unfortunately Cold Stone doesn’t deliver… wouldn’t that be grand?


I have been meaning to show you our hotel, but I haven’t taken many pictures yet. The funniest part is the staircase. We are on the third floor, so we have to go up a few flights of stairs. But it’s like a dollhouse! These are Leanna-size staircases and Casey is a giant. I don’t need to bend down at all, but poor Casey needs to be careful so he doesn’t hit his head. He said that he’s actually hit his head a few times when he forgot. It’s quite whimsical in a way because the staircases are narrow, the ceiling is low, and the stairs themselves are all different heights, so it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland going down the rabbit-hole. You never know what to expect.


While at Goodies, we found our absolute favorite candy: Sour Patch Kids! They are truly hard to find outside the US. Only this time, they were made in Britain by the brand “Maynards” and were in an unusual soda-pop flavor. Of course we had to try them. I was a little disappointed to be honest. The flavors were just okay, but not nearly as good as the original flavors. And the texture was more rubbery and waxier than we’re used to. I’m not sure why though. They weren’t passed the expiration date so I don’t know if they manufacture them differently or if it was just a fluke thing. They were still fun to try though.


I can just see my mom thinking “look at all the sugar these kids eat!” and Casey’s mom thinking “I hope these two are brushing their teeth regularly,” but I assure you both that we’re taking care of ourselves! I only blog about the interesting things like candy and ice cream, but we do eat nuts and rice and steamed veggies. But who would want to read about that? Hehe.


Tuesday, November 11th

Casey worked on Monday so that is when I wrote the previous blog post. Other than that, there is not much to say about that day.

Yesterday was more eventful because we went to The Office! It’s always a big deal when we go to the office because we have to get transport and wait around and search for people and get papers signed and whatnot. We had to go this time because I needed to get my Arik Air tickets purchased and confirmed. First, we only have one week left in Lagos before we head back to Valencia on November 19th/20th. We bought my ticket coming here which is why I didn’t fly with Arik Air, but going back I will want to fly with them to have the same flights as Casey. I needed to fill out a discount ticket form which gets me a discounted ticket, as you could infer. They’ve recently instated this discounted ticket policy so that’s quite nice for us. Secondly, I am coming back with Casey for a month in December-January, so for that ticket I needed to fill out the family travel form. This gets me a free round-trip ticket. I am entitled to one free, round-trip ticket per year.

It sounds like a fairly easy process, but everything takes longer in Lagos. We had to get the papers, fill them out, and then hunt people down for signatures. As I’ve said before, they love leaving a paper-trail in this country, and they love having management sign paperwork for no obviously important reason. We just have to get “approval” from management for these tickets, when management really could probably care less about it. I don’t know. It’s a weird system. So we spent a couple hours walking back and forth between three buildings trying to see who was available to sign or who could sign in place of someone who wasn’t there! Oy!

Finally, we got what we needed and had to go to the bank to pay for the discounted ticket. Luckily, there was a branch within walking-distance of the office. We also stopped off at KFC for lunch! We’ve been to this location by the airport’s domestic terminal many times. It’s still good for a quick, filling meal.


After we ate and paid for the ticket, we went back to the office to show them our receipt from the bank and to get a new receipt from Arik Air. Efficient, huh? It was a long process but we did get the ticket at a great price, so that is ultimately what matters. (Here I am filling out the deposit slip at the bank.)


And then… Casey’s favorite part… more football! He has a What’s App group on his phone which includes all of the pilots who care about football, so they can easily text each other and see who wants to play that day. We went back to the hotel, changed, and quickly went to the compound to join the game. Fortunately, this time we had an Arik Air driver who could take us and pick us up.


Casey had fun changing the colors and effects of these photographs.


He’s been using the same soccer ball for a long time now, and it finally had enough! The outer layer was falling apart so he ripped it off and retired the ball.


And that’s that! You are updated! Casey is working today but should return fairly soon. I’m just relaxing here and keeping myself busy. Thanks for all the recent comments as well! I love them!

P.S. I forgot to mention that the third Q400 aircraft finally arrived last week! We’ve been waiting for that plane for years, and that’s not an exaggeration. Supposedly the fourth Q400 is expected to arrive this month, so we’ll see!



The title is using the airport codes, but it actually means “Valencia to Casablanca to Lagos.” What a trip! This is a long post, by the way.

Maria was kind enough to drop me off at the airport, so that helped out a lot since I didn’t have to take a bus and a train to get there. I arrived nice and early with plenty of time to check in and get some lunch. I was one of the first to check in too, so it was super fast and easy. Going through security is much easier in Spain as well, since you don’t have to take off your shoes, and they don’t seem to stop as many people as they do in the US or London to go through their bags.


After I checked in, I went to Starbucks to get a bottle of water and relaxed for a while in a comfy chair. I decided to find my gate before having lunch in case it was far away. That was quite funny because the gate was about 50 feet away. Valencia is a SMALL airport! I think they have 12-16 gates, if that? So I laughed to myself and went back to Starbucks for lunch. There were a couple restaurants in the airport, but nothing looked good to me. I was craving some fruit, so I bought a fruit salad and an orange loaf (which is very similar to the lemon loaf that is sold in the US, except this one doesn’t have icing. Mama Rose would like this orange loaf!)


After lunch, I went to the bathroom and noticed that all of the stalls except one were out of toilet paper. That seems to be one common problem in foreign countries: they are always short on toilet paper. So I decided to be smart and selfish and load up on a few small wads in case any future bathrooms didn’t have any. I already knew that Lagos very rarely has toilet paper, so I figured Casablanca was probably the same, especially if Valencia had this issue. 


I was flying out of gate B6, and here are the four B gates! You can see all of them (B5-8) between the two pictures. When I first passed security, I saw a sign saying that they have A, B, C, and R gates, so I figured the airport was larger and I’d have to walk further. However, I realized that each group only has four gates! C1-4, B5-8, and A9-12. I’m not sure what R has, but it’s quite funny nonetheless. The flight was about 20 minutes late, but that was okay with me. I had a LONG layover in Casablanca ahead of me, so I didn’t mind waiting longer in Valencia. We got our exit stamp from the customs officer and then took a bus to reach the plane.


It was a beautiful sunny day out there on the tarmac/runway. Being so close to the plane, and not having to stand in the jet-way, reminded me of our Cessna flying trips. I had the urge to start packing up the baggage and doing the before-start checklist like Casey and I used to do.


I had a nice seat by the window in view of the propeller. I didn’t know they would give us a meal either, but I got a chicken sandwich! It actually wasn’t bad. The seasonings were vaguely reminiscent of Indian spices which I absolutely do not care for, but luckily it wasn’t very strong. The bread was a bit stale though so I didn’t eat the whole thing.


The flight was about two and a half hours, and I hardly took my eyes away from the window! I was just captivated by the scenery. First of all, it was fun to see the terrain change from the rugged mountainous regions of Spain, to the water in the Strait of Gibraltar, to Africa! I found this picture online. The text isn’t very clear, but you get the gist of what the area looks like. Secondly, it didn’t seem like our cruising altitude was very high, so I was anxious to see if we were going to climb higher or not. We never did, so the land and the water were very easy to see.

Strait of Gibraltar

The terrain around Valencia is more flat and less mountainous, so I didn’t start taking pictures until we were further south and the land began to change. I was surprised to see such craggy hillsides and even snow on the mountains! There were also a couple of towns tucked away in very random spots. One was in a deep ravine, and the other was near a snowy mountaintop. I circled these areas so you can see them too. Quite funny spots for a town I would say.


The pictures above and below are the same mountain with a “standing lenticular cloud” above it. Casey loves to point out these solitary clouds that like to hover on top of a hill or a mountain. 


And then we reached the coast. It’s interesting that the land is so steep right up to the end. By the way, many passengers were taking pictures too. I was surprised since not many people seem to take pictures on a plane in the US. But here, I heard a *click*click* every five minutes. Maybe that was because we were flying close enough to the ground where you could see everything!


I was deeply engaged while we flew over the ocean because I don’t particularly like flying over water. Of course, the flight itself feels the same whether you’re flying over land or water, but it’s just a mental thing for me. I couldn’t see much besides a few cargo ships, and I was anxiously waiting to catch the first glimpse of Africa. Here you can see the red mountains of Morocco! There were a ton of clouds too until we got further inland.


Overall, the landscape was very flat with farmland, besides being more rugged near the coast. Another thing that intrigued me was how the shape of farms greatly differs between countries. In the US, the crops are organized more into circles and squares. In Spain, the farms look like triangles and are packed so tightly together to use up every inch of space. In Morocco, the farms were in rectangular shapes, as you can kind of see in the photo below. The sun made it hard to take good pictures.


The sunset was just beautiful behind the clouds as we descended into Casablanca. The photo below is the actual town of Casablanca, but the airport is a few miles away. I wish I could have taken a better picture for you. It was neat to see how the city sprawled out into a sort of sunburst shape.


And here is the airport! I was looking forward to getting inside because I read good things about the airport online. They said it was one of the biggest international hubs in Africa with lots of shops and restaurants and wifi. Little did I know… but we’ll get to that.


We landed and took a bus to the main building. I filled out my landing card on the plane but didn’t need it because I never passed through customs. I didn’t know which terminal I was in or which terminal I needed to go to, so I just followed the crowd and went to customs. The officer said that I didn’t need to pass because my flight to Lagos was in the same terminal I was in – the international terminal. I just needed to turn around and go through security to get to the main area. I was secretly disappointed because I wanted a stamp in my passport from Morocco!


I turned around and found the dinky international entrance. Going through security was even more lax than in Spain! They let me keep my water bottle and I didn’t even need to take my laptop out of my tote. He just looked at my passport and boarding pass and that was it. Super relaxed. I went up the escalator to find a long rectangular terminal with duty-free shops coming out of your ears! There was one restaurant/bar and the rest were souvenir shops or duty-free shops. I walked around the whole thing looking for food and finally found an incredibly small “fast food” area. It looked like a small food court that you would find in a mall, except the food did not look appealing. They had sandwiches, pizza (at least what they call pizza), and probably their local food of chicken and rice or something. I immediately was unimpressed though and turned around to find something else. I went back to the singular restaurant/bar which looked like they had better food, but I didn’t like the vibe in there, so I decided to buy a bunch of snacks instead. I know, not the best dinner, but it was still something. They had two Hudson News stores where I went for snacks. You probably don’t know this store by name, but they are in virtually every airport in the US. You might recognize the blue bag below.

While walking through the airport, I discovered that they had an airport hotel called Fly Hotel where you can rent a room by the hour. I had a six hour layover ahead, so I decided to check out the hotel and possibly get a room. It had to be more comfortable than sitting in the chairs by the gates. The front desk clerk was surprised to see me, and he said that in the seven years he’s been working there, he’s never seen someone like me at the hotel. I’m not entirely sure what that meant, but I assume he meant a young Caucasian woman by herself. Maybe he only sees Africans and not many Europeans at that hotel. Who knows. The rate was reasonable, so I got a room and set up dinner.

In the meantime, I could not connect to the wifi at all! So much for what I read online… The airport had two wifi choices and both would not work. There was a business center at the hotel with two computers but the clerk said that they didn’t have internet. He was nice enough to give me a hotspot from his phone though so I could text my family and let them know that I arrived safely. Casey sent me a picture from his phone that showed where I was in the world. As you can probably gather by now, I was incredibly disappointed by this airport. The articles online made it sound a bit better than what it actually was. Sigh.


After I ate, I tried to get some sleep but it was just too noisy. (The dark photo above shows my shoes against the light coming through the door.) People were talking loudly, slamming doors, and children were running back and forth. I’m not sure what was going on out there. I didn’t end up sleeping at all, but it was definitely nicer to lay down than just sit in a chair for hours on end, so it was worth it to me to get the room after all. My mom is probably horrified by the looks of the room!Granted, it’s not up to her standards in the least, but it was decent and well-kept. Keep in mind that my standards are lower now after having lived in Nigeria, so I wasn’t expecting a hotel room like we’d get in the US. The room was very small and didn’t have a bathroom, but it was comfortable enough to relax.

I decided to check out around 10 PM since my flight boarded at 11:45 PM. I wanted to have enough time to find the gate. I also had to go to the bathroom so it was a good time to leave anyway. Just like in Valencia, the gate was not far away, so I sat down and people-watched for an hour. I took a couple photos of the insignificant terminal. You can see the Hudson News store now which probably looks familiar. As I said before, there wasn’t much good food but there were way too many duty-free shops, so if you wanted to buy anything BUT food, you were set.


The other passengers and I waited and waited and waited for our flight. It was about 20 minutes late again, oddly enough. I flew with Royal Air Maroc which I think is affiliated with Iberia and/or Turkish Air, but I don’t know if their flights are always a bit delayed. Anyway, they finally started boarding and we had to take another bus to get to the plane. It was rather cold at night since it was now after midnight on Friday morning. It did have a neat, eerie vibe though climbing up the stairs and boarding the plane in the middle of the night with dew in the air and spotlights all around. I wanted to take more pictures but the Nigerians were quite pushy. They are some of the most anxious people to board a plane and get off a plane that you will ever meet.


Upon boarding, they gave us these little flight kits with socks and an eye mask. I was also impressed that there was a lot of leg room! And the seatbacks felt like they went back further. I don’t know if it was the type of plane or whether it was just an old design, but I was quite comfy already even without moving my seat back further. VERY fortunately, it was not a full flight, so there was an empty middle seat between me and a Nigerian man. I had the window again.


And here are a couple photos of the inflight dinner! I was thankful that they served a meal since I was still a bit hungry. They had beef with orzo pasta, a roll, yogurt, some vegetable, and dessert. The beef was decent with a good sauce. I think the vegetable was artichokes but I didn’t like the smell, so I didn’t try it. I always eat the bread. The dessert was like an angel food cake with a pistachio, honey, and citrus filling, and it was quite good. I didn’t eat the yogurt either because I was full enough. I usually enjoy the inflight meals. They have a certain not-high-quality yet comforting aspect like school lunches probably have, where the food isn’t very good but you eat it and you’re satisfied anyway because you are reminded of the present moment and past memories: my moment being that of traveling and having a new adventure or experience on yet another flight. Does that make sense?


The flight was uneventful and I was able to sleep for a few hours. The descent into Lagos was breathtaking actually and I am so disappointed that I couldn’t take pictures for you. It was still dark and the moon was out, so the lights reflected in the window and it was just not bright enough to take pictures. I’ll try to describe it to you though. There were little moving spots of light which I finally realized were cars. There were quite a few cars out so early in the morning! It was probably 4 AM at the time. Then as we got closer to the city, I could see little areas of houses with twinkling lights reflected in the thin layer of clouds above them. Each little area of houses looked like it’s own galaxy with moving swirls of light and clouds. It almost looked like the Northern Lights except these lights were orange and yellow and white instead of green and pink. I’m probably not describing it well enough for you to visualize it too, but take my word for it that it was a beautiful descent into the city. I have to say that Lagos is prettier at night because all you see are lights instead of the smog and heavy traffic and overpopulated shantytowns. But I digress.

We landed, I went through the health screening where they take your temperature with a thermometer gun, I passed customs, and then waited for my bag. It usually takes forever to get luggage, but it wasn’t too bad this time. Casey was already there waiting for me after baggage claim, since he’s not allowed into the baggage area. It was such a happy sight to see him after all that traveling! We walked outside to our taxi and drove off to the hotel. I already posted this picture but it’s a good one, so let’s post it again.


There’s the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos that we know so well. They redid the entrance out front so there is a fountain with four dolphins now. It was still early in the morning around 6 AM so traffic wasn’t bad on our way to the hotel. The sun was still rising as well.


Casey was sweet and made me oats for breakfast with his hotplate. That is one of the best purchases he’s made since he eats oats every morning. I haven’t had them in a long time, since I eat cereal all of the time, so they tasted quite good for a change.


I brought Casey a treat from Spain called barquillos rellenos de turrón, which are very very thin wafer cookies rolled into a cylinder and could be filled with something. In our case, they are filled with a vanilla-almond cream. You can buy these kind of cookies in the US too, but I can’t remember what they’re called in English. He was very pleased!

I was still a bit tired, so I took a nap for a few hours and then he wanted to play ping pong when I woke up :) I’ve never been to this hotel before, and this is Casey’s first time here too. It’s pretty nice actually. They have three buildings with rooms, a pool, a ping pong table, and a gym.


Casey took me on a tour around the grounds and I saw this by the kitchen. There are probably a hundred red onions on the top two shelves, and then there are huge yams at the bottom. You may or may not remember that there are only red and white onions in Lagos; they don’t have yellow onions here. Just some food for thought.


We kept walking and went into the gym. I would venture to guess that some of the funniest signs in the world are in Lagos. It is a completely backwards country as you can clearly tell by this contradictory sign. “No jogging on the treadmills” huh?? What are we supposed to do? Casey jumped to be in the photo. Funny guy.


This reminds me of a picture that Casey sent me a few months ago. He was staying at a different hotel, and he came across this sign on the door to the laundry room. Isn’t that hilarious? It makes complete sense right…


Anyway, back to the gym. They have three treadmills and a couple ellipticals, and a few other things. They have a sign that talks about what regular exercise is all about. It’s a rather small gym, but I suppose you can still get a decent workout here if you really wanted one.


We decided to ride bikes to a nearby food joint called Munchies for a small lunch. Casey has two bikes here in Lagos: an electric bike and a regular bike. He usually rides the electric bike but he let me use it instead while he rode the manual one. It was a quick ride to the end of the street where we popped inside for a meat pie! These are basically like calzones or empanadas, with a pie crust-like exterior and a ground beef and vegetable interior. I like the flavor though because they have some spice to it as well as carrots and onions. We bought two small cartons of vanilla and strawberry ice cream and came back to the hotel to relax.


Arik Air pays a set amount for meals at the hotels so, since we did not spend our daily stipend on food that day, we decided to order a bunch of drinks instead to use up the money. That is why you see all those drinks laying on the bed. It works out well this way because sometimes Casey will order food but not have enough money left over for drinks, so this way he can save some drinks in the fridge for later. To sum up my first day, we treated ourselves to a nice Domino’s Pizza for dinner! And it was delivered! My favorite combo of pepperoni and mushroom. Yum!!


Well that was my whole trip and day one in Lagos in a nutshell! Casey worked today so I had all day to write. He will probably work more this week, so I’ll be able to fill you in on some of our other outings. Hope you enjoyed this post! Until next time!

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Good Morning Lagos!


I made it!! I just wanted to write a quick post and let everyone know that I am finally here. My trip was interesting and I will have a lot to say, but overall it was very smooth and uneventful. I am glad it is over though. Now I can relax and enjoy the days with this guy! We’re going to play ping pong at the hotel, so I will write a more in depth post soon with details about my trip!



Hello Readers!

As this title implies, I have some big news… I am flying to Lagos on Thursday!

The audience gasps and cringes in dismay.

I know, I know, it’s not the most glamorous of destinations, but I have a good reason or two, so bear with me. First of all, Casey is in Lagos, and I would like to see him. The second reason is more intricate. I’ll give you a little background first.

Spain is a member of the Schengen Area which is comprised of “26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy” (Wikipedia). This means that I can travel to any of these 26 countries as often as I like and most likely only show my passport once the first time I land. Then I can travel freely to the other countries just like we travel freely to different states in the US. Now this sounds nice in theory, but a problem arises because US citizens are only allowed to stay in the Schengen Area without a visa for three months out of every six months (90 days out of every 180 days). I don’t have to stay three months consecutively; it just refers to the total time. If I want to stay longer, then I need to get a visa. Make sense so far?

I arrived at the end of September, so that means that I have to leave at the end of December. After I leave, I will not be allowed back to any of the Schengen countries until March. I’ve already been here for 44 days, and I don’t have a visa, so I have to plan ahead and count my days to make sure that I don’t overstay in Spain. Why would I overstay you ask? I will tell you.

First off,  Casey and I are hoping that he will be upgraded to captain before March! *crosses fingers* Arik Air finally got a third Q400 airplane (yay!) so he might actually have a chance of being upgraded now. When he does get upgraded, he has to go to simulator training for at least two weeks. That training will most likely be done in Sweden so, of course, I REALLY want to go too! Unfortunately, Sweden is also a Schengen country, so that means that if I spend 90 days in Spain right now, I won’t be allowed into Sweden until after March. This is where planning ahead comes into play. I need to leave Spain for two weeks now in order to save those days and use them later in Sweden.

You may be saying that this is complex! I agree! It would be nice if I could just hop over to France or Italy and schmooze there for two weeks and then come back to Spain, but that is not possible. It is also extremely difficult to get an extension visa. There are work visas, student visas, and residency visas, but I can’t find any information on just getting an extension to stay here. It’s really quite a mystery. There are only a few European countries who are not part of the Schengen Area, so my options are limited. I’m sure from your perspective, I should go anywhere but Lagos, but it is what it is. I don’t really want to travel to another country by myself right now, which was one option. At least Casey is in Lagos and I’m very familiar with Lagos. I only had a few choices for where to go, and we decided that this is the best route. I always have an extensive pro&con list in my head, so I hope you can understand that this is probably the best idea, even if it doesn’t sound like it.

So that’s the news! On Thursday, I will fly directly from Valencia to Casablanca, Morocco! That sounds fun in itself, per se. (Mainly just saying that I’m going to Morocco sounds fun, even if it’s just for a few hours.) I have a long layover at the airport, but then another direct flight to Lagos. I’ll spend almost two weeks there, and then Casey and I will fly back to Valencia together on November 20th, which incidentally is his birthday. We’ll probably spend most of our time in Spain between November 20th – December 20th, but maybe we’ll travel somewhere else during that time to add extra days to my Sweden reserve. At that point, it will be the end of December, and we’ll go to Lagos together for a month. That’s the tentative schedule for now.

I hope all of this made sense. It’s a lot of new information that is confusing because you have to add up days and make sure which countries are eligible and which are not. Sigh. But I think it will be ok. I hope you do too! Let me know if you have any questions. I will keep you updated of my whereabouts as well :)

UPDATE: I just read some great news on the U.S. Passports and International Travel website. “The CDC Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria was removed because Nigeria has been declared Ebola free.” This update was posted on October 24th, 2014. Hopefully Nigeria will keep this up! And let’s hope that the other countries can have the same good news in the near future.



Day 313: Two Flew Out of the Cuckoo’s Nest


This is the view from our bedroom window. Birds love to land on the balcony, and I’m always fascinated to see the types of birds that do. These particular ones look just like parakeets that we see as pets in the US! I wonder how genetically similar they are to each other.

How appropriate it is to post a picture of free-spirited birds as Casey and I are spreading our wings and leaving Lagos! Sappy metaphor, I know, but it is true. Today we leave this country and head back home! It has been 313 days total since we first arrived here on August 15, 2012. This count includes the time that we spent in the US and Europe so, if we get really technical, I have lived here for 221 days and Casey for 214 days. (His number is less because he spent that week in Sweden by himself.) But now that time is coming to a close. We’ve been packing for the past two weeks getting ready for this move. We’ve sold the car, the refrigerator, all our dishware, and 95% of the food. All that’s left is the treadmill and the piano, and Casey is happy to keep the latter to play when he’s back here for work. What an experience this has been! It’s funny that whenever people don’t know what to say about something, they say “what an experience…” but this seems more fitting than most times. It HAS been an EXPERIENCE.

We won’t be seeing these things again anytime soon:

IMG_20130520_201730Five mattresses piled on top of an extremely tiny pick-up truck. We all thought it was going to tip over.

IMG_20130610_131702KFC refuses to put more than a speck of ketchup in these plastic containers, so Casey had to keep asking for more. The cashiers looked at us very strangely.

IMG_20130610_133407This is the way potholes are fixed in Nigeria. The locals fill the holes with anything, as you can see. It doesn’t seem to be the best way to fix them.

Will we miss these aspects of the country? Maybe sometimes, or maybe not. Casey will still come back often enough so he won’t have time to miss them. And we certainly will have many memories and inside jokes to tell ourselves and our families when we’re back home.

So we say “goodbye” to Lagos, for now. We will depart around midnight West Africa Time and arrive in New York very early in the morning. Maybe Casey will treat himself to a coffee from Starbucks. Then we will head to Vegas and reunite with my parents! Admittedly, we were reasonably excited to move here, but we’re definitely excited to be returning home. And even though we didn’t reach our goal of Casey getting a certain number of hours, we are pleased to have given it a shot to live here full-time. We tried! We tried very hard! It’s been a long journey, and we will look forward to many more in different countries!

As I like to say… Ciao for now!