• Getting Use To Things

    Friday, April 25, 2008

    This is the most original hawker I have seen. Dozens of these men will converge on you at every intersection and offer anything ranging from crackers to magazines to potties. Anything that might come in handy during a long "go-slow". One aspect of living here that has taken some getting use to is hiring "staff". It was a totally foreign concept to me but you find out quick that it is essential. The company provides a car but I have to hire a driver. It is dangerous to drive, easy to get lost, but I think the main reason we're recommended not to drive is the rules of the road are just too ambiguous to learn. There's not even traffic lights (in a city of 15 million people). Ofcourse, traffic lights would cause even more chaos as the power goes out every hour. Hiring a driver was one of the greatest challenges, not because it was hard to find someone, but because you're offering somebody a very good job and it is difficult to choose. I had two excellent canditates. They both have families and one had been out of work for four months and the other was about to go out of work. So far I'm pretty happy with my choice. He's friendly, speaks very good English (Nigerian's speak English but in a very different dialect), doesn't make me car sick and he's clean. He actually proved himself right away; I was about to get a Mitsubishi Space Wagon from Land Transport, but Aaron spotted a Honda CRV that had just been returned and convinced them to give me that instead! I'll get a new vehicle in a few months but for now the CRV will be great. Aaron gets paid about $400 a month and we pay for his child's school tuition and their health care. We also pay for the lease on his apartment. He calls me "boss" which I like. Other expats get called "sir" or sometimes even "master". Crazy.

    I hired a great stewardess named Patricia. She will do some cleaning, cooking and babysitting. Her and her husband have moved into our "steward's quarters" here at the compound, which is in another building. She seams to love what she does and sings all day long. She has left her 16 year old daughter with her mother back in her village so she and her husband could move to the city and provide for their family. She will get $300 a month plus medical and some bonuses.

    Hiring staff was definetly the biggest job but anything that is normal back in Canada like getting a bank account is a huge headache here. It doesn't matter how many letters from the company and ID badges and visas you have, they find a way to make it more complicated. Another huge task is setting up my flat. The company provides furniture but its a big job deciding what you need and don't need and everything takes time here. Even to change a light bulb I have to fill out a form. It will be nice to finally feel settled. Actually it will just be nice to have my family here. One more week until I'm back in Canada with them!!!

    Here are some more pics:

    This is Lekki Market where I purchase all my produce. It's much cheeper than the grocery stores but the best part is everything is local. Fresh avocados, mangos, pineapples, coconuts, lemons, grapefruit...yum! Everything you need except strawberries and Okanagan peaches.

    If you drive about 45 minutes out of town there are some beaches...

    ...unfortunately they are completely filthy. For a price, and if you call ahead, you can have the locals clean them for you and even rent out a little beach hut. Some expats will lease a beach hut for the whole time they're here. I saw one with an in-ground kids pool, showers, BBQ pit, and change rooms. Nothing like keeping things rustic.

    Business on the beach.

    Nigerian taxis. These are known as Okadas.

    This is one of the nicer "slums" I have seen. This is vacant land where people build a home with whatever materials they can find.