Staying Sane While Away

Living overseas has it’s definite perks. A local economy that allows for the hiring of full-time domestic help such as a driver and a stewardess, the sense that the mundane takes on an air of extraordinary because everything is so different, opportunity for travel to places few will or want to go, and the awareness of a life lived to the fullest to name a few. But, there are challenges to be found as well. Aside from the obvious things we give up when living in a developing country such as safe roads, personal freedom of movement due to safety concerns, easy access to familiar foods, and the anonymity found in belonging to the larger culture, we find that in the somewhat restricted environment of Lagos we have an extra challenge of keeping ourselves entertained and not just focused on work. How do we do it? We make sure that we have easy ways to stay in touch with family and friends through Skype, our Vonage phone line, and this blog. We stream Netflicks through our VPN so we have a predictable program to watch with dinner which is still a Star Trek but we’ve moved to the newest rendition “Enterprise”. Of course, we also spend much of our time simply being together.

Greg and I have yet to explore some of the more colorful local markets. But, now that I’m truly finished with all of my own schooling, we are planning for a trip to the fabric market, the beach and other fun weekend destinations in the near future. In the meantime, this is a small sampling of what we’ve been up to over the last couple months and some pretty fun ways to fill our after work and weekend hours.

Staying Sane Option 1: Spend all-day making pizza. Starting with the dough for a thin-crust base, follow with a spicy sauce then continue on through to the final assemblage:

Our bowl runneth over.

Our dough runneth over.

It's all about the toppings.

It’s all about the toppings.

Greg's meaty rendition.

Greg’s meaty-cheesy-veggie nirvana.

Staying Sane Option 2: Cut your husband’s hair. Apparently it’s just a matter of time before all wives are tasked with cutting their husband’s hair. I have to admit, my first go at using the clippers on Greg left a wide swath across the back of his head similar to the path left in the lawn the first time you mow in the spring. But, I quickly got the hang of it and even managed to blend in my initial overzealous mistake. To Greg’s credit, he didn’t even react when he heard my sharp inhalation of breath followed by a quiet, “Oh sh**!”

The trusting husband.

The somewhat skeptical subject.

Fixing the landing strip.

Fixing the landing strip.



Staying Sane Option 3: Attend the annual Red Sea Dinner at the Lagos Yacht Club. This is the event where Greg presented me with our surprise trip to Paris, and I returned the favor by wearing an impossibly short, little black dress.

Red Sea Dinner at Lagos Yacht Club.

Red Sea Dinner at Lagos Yacht Club.

Staying Sane Option 4: Watch the building next door burn during Nigerian Independence Day. I guess this one is all about “the glass is half full or half empty” sort of an attitude. Yes, it is somewhat concerning that celebrants of Independence Day chose to torch a building right next door to campus. But, our security folks kept an eye on things and it really was quite an interesting experience to be in the kitchen making my early morning tea only to glance out the back door and see a cloud of black smoke billowing up into the sky. Besides, it’s really no worse than watching Bolivian transportation workers yank people out of their cars and throw rocks during the transportation strikes when we lived in La Paz.

Nigerian Independence Day.

View from our kitchen back door.

Staying Sane Option 5: Have your students write an episode to “Swine Trek” and make them wear the space helmet they created for science class. Remember the Muppet Show? The Science and Math teachers on my team had students used math and science to create a space helmet. The project was introduced to the kids by watching episode one and two of Swine Trek: Pigs in Space as a sort of teaser to get them interested. I supported their learning by reading informational texts on space and having them work in collaborative groups using Google Docs to write the next episode in the series. Their scripts had to include at least ten of the twenty-one vocabulary words they used from Science and Math, and they had to write their space helmets into the script as well. Imagine more than 60 kids performing Swine Trek plays throughout the day for their parents, administration and invited primary classes, it was amazing.

Swine Trek: Pigs in Space.

Swine Trek: Pigs in Space.

Staying Sane Option 6: Put a wig on. Better yet, wear a diaper. Here are a couple pictures of Greg and I attending a Halloween party at one of the flats this past weekend. We didn’t have any costumes with us, but I had happened to bring one of my wigs. Side note: see this blog post from my previous blog on the why and where of my wig collection. Greg thought up the idea of us going as “A couple babes”, this is the genesis of our combined efforts. By the way, while there wasn’t a “best costume” competition, everyone said that we would have won if there was. Oh, and I think it’s a little bit sad that I borrowed and copiously stuffed someone’s bra that is about five times my size…and you can’t even tell from the pictures.

The Two Babes.

The Two Babes.

Grade 6 team; a Spice Girl, a Lamp Shade with Yoda, A Babe, and a Mummy.

Grade 6 team: a Spice Girl, a Lamp Shade with Yoda, a Babe, and a Mummy.

Good friends.

Good friends.


I prefer Greg’s “closely shaven” look rather than this…

By the end, even the mummy was wearing a wig.

But by the end, even the mummy was wearing a wig.

Hmmmm…..I wonder what next weekend will bring? I do know that in two weeks, I’ll be participating in a 10K run somewhere in the city. I’ve decided that because I’m not a particularly fast runner, that my shtick will be “unusual” runs. You know, like running the Ulaanbaatar marathon or running a 10K at 13,400′ in Bolivia, that kind of thing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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3 Responses to Staying Sane While Away

  1. Jim & Kelly says:


  2. C. Bander says:

    Thanks for sending. Good to know you’re both okay. Folks at the marina have been asking about you and your adventure, good info to tell them. Great report on your trip to Paris, what a great surprise! Enjoyed your report on what you do to stay sane.

  3. Pingback: Staying Sane While Away- Year Two | JOURNEY

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