We actually had rain two nights ago and a great thunderstorm! First time I have seen rain since we have been here. Of course it also meat that our house is now full of sand brought in by the harmattan (wind) but it was great to feel a breeze! However it only lasted ten minutes!
We have just had a really hot night and no Neppa which was very unpleasant. We also have no water so I had to fill a bucket from one of our bins of water to take to the bathroom so I could soak myself in order to cool down a bit and try to sleep! I am neurotic about creatures who like to visit us so going down the dark corridor in the early hours was an act of bravery on my part!
I have now given up attempts to sleep so thought I might tell you about a day in my life! If anyone is reading this and can’t sleep also this may help!!!
There is no typical day but it sort of goes like this......
On a good morning after a sleep under the fan I am woken by the alarm at 6.30. Or I should say it goes off then-I have already been woken at three by the Redemptionists speaking in tongues and the mosque at five! Just after the alarm the room is filled with petrol fumes as someone revs their car into action and it is definitely time to get up! It is still dark then and often there is no Neppa so I switch my head torch on and make my way to the bathroom. Before entering I make a lot of noise to warn any cockroaches or geckos that I do not want to greet them. I then crawl back under the mozzie net and if I am not too hot put on my ipod and do some pilates while listening to music. This is followed by a bucket shower. I attempt to put skin crème on but it melts in the heat and usually runs onto the floor. On a good Neppa day I can straighten my hair as well. Breakfast is a sort of muesli I concoct with oats, bananas and dried fruit and soya milk. Lea has cornflakes-a very poor imitation of Kellogs and past the sell by date but reminds him of home! Sometimes I indulge myself with toast which we do in the frying pan. Best is the cold water and fruit juice! I also have my anti-malarial tablet. Then it is time to but on clothes-often my Nigerian clothes-and try to do my hair. Doing my hair involves going outside as it is too dark in the house so I often greet my neighbours at this time. When I think no-one is looking I quickly apply a slap of make up so I don’t look like a sleep deprived ghost!
Some days I get a lift to the office but if I am up early I like to walk in. I stick my laptop in my backpack with my sandwiches (usually tomato and cucumber or sometimes peanut butter and banana) and walk out double –locking the doors. Benga is outside washing the car and I practise some Yoruba. I also greet Ante who is off to work at Kwara television. I squeeze past the cars, chicken, an old diesel engine and rubbish bin, push the metal door open which clangs noisily behind me and step out of our little compound. Miriam and Esther greet me from their egg shop. Greet involves not just ‘Good morning’ but also asking you ‘How was your night?’ and if they know me, ‘How is daddy?’ (referring to Lea who is also referred to as Mr Lea and Babba). The correct response is ‘Fine and how was your night?’
The goats are clambering on the cars in the repair shop as usual and the mother hen is completely disregarding her chicks as they scrabble around in the dust. I walk past the well and speak to the children who are lowering their buckets. Juliet is a beautiful girl and is there every morning. I continue down the road-my sandals now full of grit and sand-more children greet me and I pass the bush meat restaurant where I have to greet my friend (oremi) which always causes amusement. Children pass in brightly coloured uniforms and I dodge ocadas and the odd car. I make it to the main road which I cross, careful not to fall in the ditch! We have discovered a shortcut so I turn down another sandy bumpy road. Shops are just opening. Children are queuing at one which sell biscuits and sweets. A group of women have got a charcoal fire going and are fanning it with bits of card, someone is burning a rubber tyre. I come out onto the main road where ‘Yellow Fever’ (the traffic controller with a yellow shirt) is directing the traffic. On the corner is the artificial plant stall where I am tempted by the sunflower which is so bright and gaudy but would so brighten our parlour! As soon as it is safe I cross the road and hop over the ditch. As I get nearer to the centre the ditch gets cleaner and I greet the woman who is responsible for this with only a bunch if twigs to assist. On the way I pass the Hallelulia shop which sells Office word for 100N apparently, the hair parlour and the handbag shop. Sometimes I see Elizabeth, an elderly lady who once worked as a nurse in London and who is always thrilled to see me. At the end of this road I turn and cross a sort of dual carriageway. The beggar with one leg is there and the woman selling kola nuts. There is a barrier in front of Kwara State Library which two men lift with a rope. The older man loves to hear my attempts at Yoruba which he finds extremely funny. Then it is in through the door, say ‘Good morning’ to the woman at the desk and climb the two flights of stairs to the office-not an easy task in the heat! The guard at the door greets me and takes my bag into the office. It is heavenly in here-the air conditioning is on and there is a cold water machine! I sit at my desk and charge up my laptop. Sometimes I get myself a drink. Gradually the other people arrive. Funmi sits next to me and Sue and Mary are on the other side of us. At the far end of the room is Alhaji Woru and Bala, Katherine and Emma. The other three places are used by various inter-national consultants when they are here.
There will often be a meeting or I may work on the lesson plans amd often I will go out for part of the day. Tomorrow I will go to the ERC to work with the SSIT and so have to then go to the admin office to ask for a driver. The most essential thing I learned early on is that the key hanging up in a corner is for the toilet which is at the end of the corridor and has to be double locked! There is usually some discussion as to who is going to treat everyone to akara which Aiyo goes out to buy. I usually start work about eight and try to leave ay five but it is usually nearer to six.
Often I go to Yoruba Road market at lunchtime or after work to get things like flour, beans and rice. They sell almost everything but it is quite hard finding the correct shop. They are quite kind to me though and if they haven’t got something often direct me to someone who has. So far I have managed to buy a good sweeping brush, an icing set and weighing scales there as well as cornflakes and food items. I often get groundnuts or carrots off the hawkers there too.
On my way home the phone card table is open and they try to teach me a bit of Yoruba. I pass the passport photo umbrella, the photocopier with the noisy diesel engine and the women selling huge pineapples, oranges and tomatoes. Finally I go to my vegetable shop where they say I get a good deal because I am a regular customer! Last time he had garlic, peas and pawpaw and we always buy a cabbage. Next to him is a woman selling motor oil. She has three lovely little girls called Bridget, Anna and Elizabeth. They are very poor and so happy when I speak to them. The mother insists on helping me cross the road! Bridget is only a baby and crawls around in the dust and mud.
As I walk down cemetery Road I am greeted by lots of people and children shout, ‘Hello Auntie Caroline ‘ which is lovely. I usually buy a few bananas and onions. Sometimes I have a chat with Miriam at the egg shop.Finally I get home and hope NEPPA is on. If it is there is a mad scramble to charge everything u