Monday, October 11, 2010

Along the Niger River

The lesson we learned from the following experience was this: never consider driving along a road in which the map designated by a dashed line (showing it is a secondary or tertiary road) unless you have a lot of time, gas, food, and water. So the story begins like this, it was a three day weekend and there were a few of us who knew we wanted to get out of town for at least one day. No one made firm plans. Friday we were busy doing stuff, including just relaxing around the house since it was a busy week. Saturday no one could get up early enough to commit to anything. So then we decided to take a drive down to the Niger River on a Sunday afternoon. The route seemed clear enough. Drive East from Abuja until we came to the town of Agia, then South until we reached Bamko, and then West until we reached Gwagwalada, and then head back North until we arrived in Abuja once again- a nice simple quadrilateral path. The trip took us 12 hours in total, far past our first estimate of 4 hours. It would have been amazing if we had more time to enjoy the wonderful sites that we saw and not have had the stress levels we did- due to time, the sketchy bridges we drove over, and the bouncy road on Gordon's back. We didn't even have time to put a toe into the Niger once we did see it!

Nigerian Wedding- Chris and Catherine

On Saturday, September 25th, 2010 two of our friends from church, Chris and Catherine married. It was our first Nigerian wedding, and we were guests of honor. They had special outfits made for us, of the Niger Delta style, Igbo Land. The wedding was to begin at 10am prompt, but started just before 1pm. The bride and groom select and sell a special Nigerian wax boutique fabric which guests are to buy in order to support the newly weds. DO you like my hat? Isn't it rediculous?! Anyhow, it was traditional, and I had many complements from the locals. Gordon and the cute little flower girls, they were prancing and posing- really enjoying the attention. The wedding began 3 hours late and the ceremony lasted about 30 minutes. Following the ceremony, we gathered in the cultural hall, in the back of the church chapel. There we were served dinner, chicken and pork with jallof rice (a long grain white rice served with spicy red peppers). The couple danced in to the tune of Simply the Best by Tina Turner, a personal favorite. During the reception, guests were expected to dance and then people would come up and shower them with money (depending on their skills) and the newly weds got to keep the money. They have special dances, for the fathers of the bride and groom, then the mothers, then all the family members, then friends, etc. The most popular of all the dances was a performance by the Grandmother of the Bride, who seemed to barely be able to stand up and walk forward but then bounded into a rhythmic step which had the crowd on their feet cheering and throwing down lots of paper. A nice basket was plenty full by the end of everyone's performance. There was a cake which was cut but not shared with the guests. Special witnesses gathered around the cake and gave their opinions of the symbolism represented by the way in which the cake was cut and how the bride and groom fed each other the first slices. Then the cake was carried away? Finally, people showered the couple with gifts and in return were given practical favors, we received a mixing bowl. It was overall a happy day and nice celebration of unity.

Maxwell/ Patton Wedding

On Saturday, August 28th, 2010 our very good friend Denise married Paul in the Orcas Islands near Seattle, Washington. It was a wonderful wedding and we wish them the best.

Return to Abuja, Nigeria

On Sunday, August 29th, 2010 we took flight to Abuja, Nigeria- leaving from Seattle, Washington, for a 32 hour journey to our second home for the next 9 months. Gordon did quite well with the adventure, despite his newly constructed spine. We upgraded to business class for the leg of our flight because it only cost us $150 beyond our excess baggage fee. It turned out to be a very smart decision because the seats recline and become almost 100% horizontal. We arrived in Abuja, Nigeria and our friend Bryan picked us up from the airport. The bananas and coconut bread in Nigeria are amazing, we truly missed them during the summer. Our first week back we attended a fund raiser for the school at the Hilton, it was a fashion show. Many teachers and students were modeling Vlisco Dutch Wax, a high quality Nigerian style wax boutique printed in The Netherlands, as well as professional models. Look at those heels! Carol is the Librarian at school. She is my new friend and new to our school, from Buenos Aires, and we are practicing yoga every Tuesday and Thursday together. Our friend Laura had a surprise birthday party, which was a nice opportunity to hang out with some old friends again. And then we finally settled, in our newly made love nest, in Abuja, Nigeria for a 3rd year of teaching at the American International School.