Today marks 4 weeks in Nigeria, I have to say there were times when I really didn’t think I’d make it this far so this feels like a big milestone to me and Tuesday makes it a whole month, working on technicalities. It seems very strange only five weeks ago I was having a weekend away with some of my friends and wondering what my life would be like right now, where would I be living? What would my housemate be like? How would I be finding the heat, food, culture etc? I was sat pondering these things in beautiful landscaped gardens sitting under a sun umbrella because it was actually a hot and sunny day for once and it seems like a million years ago. Ironically it was hotter that day than it is here today!
So what have I discovered in the last four weeks? Well I think in some respects I’m both tougher and weaker than I thought I was. Things that I thought I wouldn’t find hard or be bothered by I have been and some things that I thought I would struggle with haven’t been a problem. For example, I really thought the erratic nature of the power here would be a problem for me but I’ve adapted to it really quickly and no longer bat an eyelid when the power goes off. I always have a torch to hand and always have everything ready to charge as soon as the power returns. It makes me smile when you hear one of the neighbourhood children shout “NEPA!” when the power does come back on. The power company here in Nigeria used to be called NEPA, fondly known as Never Expect Power Always (or Again) and it changed a while ago to PHCN, Problem Has Changed Name. I don’t actually know what it does stand for, Power something Company Nigeria maybe? Everyone still calls it NEPA though and you will often be asked, “Did you have NEPA last night/over the weekend?”. It was big news when the President sacked 4 top PHCN executives for failing to resolve the issues with the power, we shall see if their replacements make any difference…..
In terms of other discoveries, I’m finding the lack of anonymity very hard. I think I’ve mentioned it before in another post, I didn’t think it would bother me as much it does and it's not something you can easily ignore.
I still don’t like the prospect of going anywhere on my own which aged 29 I find a bit pathetic. I do however get great satisfaction when I do go somewhere on my own and manage to get home again, however this also makes me feel quite pathetic.
I want to get out and explore but the weather here really is very preventative, when it rains it really rains and the streets sort of turn into rivers and you really don’t want to think about what’s in the water. Supposedly this month should see the rain easing off a bit which will be good.
Other interesting cultural learning, Dog is a delicacy here in Cross River State (I wasn’t very good at hiding my horror when told this) as is Goat’s head. I won’t be eating either, EVER. I’m rather relieved I’m still not well and can’t eat properly at the moment as at least I have a legitimate excuse to avoid anything I’m uncertain of like is that meat dog? It all backs up my reasoning to become vegetarian for the duration of my placement, unless it’s corned beef out of a tin of course. I hasten to add that I have eaten Nigerian food and do intend to eat more of it but my tummy says otherwise at the moment so I’m sticking to a rather bland diet of crackers, noodles, tomatoes and corned beef sandwiches. It’s doing wonders for the weight loss!