The First Eight Days in Lagos, Nigeria

Well, we survived our first week in Lagos, Nigeria and never came close to re-packing our bags screaming to be taken to the airport. That’s the advantage of having little or no expectations about this place. After reading and hearing unflattering comments and negative reviews about the second biggest city in Africa (in terms of population), we were pleasantly surprised that it is not as bad or as expensive as we were told. Of course we live on campus in Victoria Island, and have only seen parts of the mainland, Lekki and Ikoyi.

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1004 Estates and Civic Building

We do miss Islamabad, it is a lot prettier with the hills, trees, and flowers plus wide streets and minimal traffic. But I was thrilled to walk in a couple of malls and supermarkets here nonetheless. The shelves carry some familiar brands and labels, such as Dove, Pampers, and Colgate. But milk, rice, and olive oil are incredibly expensive, while pasta, beer, and wine are surprisingly cheap. The toys are also pricey, like a box of Matchbox cars that cost $5 in Pakistan and $10 in the US is selling for $30 here.

“Do you know how far China is from here,” my husband teased me.

The people seem friendly. At least the local staff in school and at the US Consulate are ready to greet you. But the sales ladies are surly. They look bored but get annoyed when you ask them a question. At least everyone speaks English and all signs are in English.

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Most of the locals look colorful in clothes with bold prints. I enjoy watching those with elaborate headdresses and those who wear their babies around their waist. And they look so graceful when they carry all kinds of things, like a jumbo sack of water bottles or basket of produce, perfectly balanced on their heads. The men are not to be outdone, because they also love to dress up, some of them in cotton with lace trimmings.

We like our place, too. When we first arrived it felt like we were still in the US, because the furnishings are very modern and Western. We even have an AC in the kitchen. (The intermittent brownouts do remind us we live in a developing country.) After adding the rugs we brought from Pakistan, some wall decorations and sarongs from Thailand, and our framed photos it now feels very comfortable. Even James likes to spend more time in his room today after we spread his toys and added two colorful batik artwork left by the previous music teacher.

The adjustment period has been the most difficult aspect of our arrival. We’re always tired, sleepy, and feeling a lot of stress. There is so much to do and a lot of information to digest, with classes starting in two days. We had to get acquainted with the newly-hired cook/steward, nanny, and driver; negotiating and discussing their work schedule, duties, and salaries after being in their country for only a few days. Even if everyone speaks English different terms are used sometimes. We had to learn a whole new set of procedures for preparing lesson plans and new software for attendance and grading. Where is the printing room? Where can we get supplies?

And we not only had to adjust to our Mac laptops (damn, where’s the taskbar for the minimized windows?), but also had to get our toddler used to a different sleeping schedule, new nanny, new environment, and often had to leave him screaming and crying when we go to work. He is a smart kid. As soon as I pick up my bag or the nanny walks in he starts crying and would cling to me. I hope things will improve when he starts daycare/playgroup this Monday. It’s only 5 minutes from school, and he’ll be with some familiar faces, two other toddlers of our colleagues everyday for half a day.

James' Nursery School

James' Nursery School

While I worry about our son’s well-being I have relaxed a bit about malaria. There are not as many mosquitoes here compared to Islamabad or the Philippines. And we live in a compound with other families, so James gets to play with other teachers’ kids, whose ages range from 18 months to maybe 14 or 15. It’s like having so many cousins to play with. Right outside our building is the pool, playground, and soccer field. From where I sit, James is in a good place. As long as he’s happy and safe, that’s what matters.

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16 thoughts on “The First Eight Days in Lagos, Nigeria

  1. Hello,

    I was just browsing around,trying to find a daycare for my son here in VI, then, I found your blog. It did not escape me that you are Filipino also.

    Nice blog, and job well done. To think I used to be a web consultant, I could not be bothered updating even my webpage and my facebook.

    Would you mind if you could forward me the name and contact details of where you sons daycare is. I would appreciate it a lot. My son is now 20 months old and he really needs to be introduced to kids his own age.

    I can’t seem to find any good schools here around VI.

    In need of your help 🙂

    Bern flores

    • Our son used to go to Kiran’s Playgroup located in 44 Balarbe Musa Crescent off Samuel Manuwa St. VI — close to AISL, Mobil Court, and Proflex. Phone 790-7575 or 0805-703-0221. They accept kids as young as 18 months old, but they must be accompanied by their nannies. We pulled him out because he kept getting cough and cold, and we thought his immune system needed a break. It was a wise decision, our son has not been sick since. But he really enjoyed school with its many toys and activities. He was just not ready for it and got overstimulated.

  2. Hi,

    Thank you for the reply. I actually went to AISL and ask for a lists of pre-schools around Lekki and VI. I’ll check the address you gave me.

    Near the French School, I found a good Nursery, Pink and Blue Nursery, at 199B, Jide Oki Street, Off Ligali Ayorinde Street, Victoria Island Annex, Lagos.

    I find it very nice, the owner is an Expat Rebecca Gascoyne, the syllabus is not that bad either and they teach basic French also. Only drawback they don’t allow nanny’s or Mom’s around and the student’s required to attend 5 days a week.

    I’m just a bit put off, at 20 months, I feel my son is not ready to go to school 3 hours per day 5 times a week.

    You mentioned about your son gets getting cough and cold, I also worry about that, not to mention about mosquito and Malaria. Ayo started playing outside about 2 months ago he also got sick, like running nose and such… I think when you go out and its so hot and humid you are sweating… then you go inside your AC house, then you know what’s next…Ayo have that problem.

    But since Ayo started taking supplement Vit C, his immune system is getting better. Right now is he doing fine.

    By the way how old is your son? If you don’t mind, Maybe we could form a small group about 5-6 kids as informal play group, Mom’s or Nanny could be there, we could share the toys, I think for Ayo, have enough toys to share for two kids. Which means we could monitor the toys cleanliness. Also make sure that the place is clean and no mosquitos.

    If you interested just give me a reply. My reply is getting to long. I’ll end it here.

    Looking forward to hear from you soon.

    Berns.

  3. Hello!
    I am very happy to find your blog on Lagos and feel much more informed after reading your experiences. I am moving to Lagos with my family this September. I have a 4 year old son and an 18 months old daughter. For schooling options, I would like to ask you which one would you pick between AISL and Lagos Preparatory (LPS)? I see that LPS takes in students as early as eighteen months old so I would have an option of sending both my kids to the same school. Also, its just five minutes drive from our expected residence in Ikoyi. On the other hand, I see that AISL has a much better and well structured program, even for the pre-schoolers but it starts at 3 years old and its in Victoria Island around 4km from our expected residence in Ikoyi. I am not sure if I should really be that concerned about my kids education at this early an age but I want to make an informed decision. Any information would be of great help.
    Furqan

    • I teach and live in AISL, so obviously I am biased when I recommend it … but when it comes to young children I would also recommend the school with the shortest commute. If you’re here for the long term and wish to have your children educated under the American curriculum, it is then better to get them in while you can. The waiting list is long at Pre-K 4 and Kindergarten levels.

  4. happy new year to all!
    we are going to move to lagos untill May. im trying to find the real living cost (supermarket and grocceries prices) and i cannt find anything. please help me
    Also i have a 4 and a 6 year old daughters and i would like to now anything about school AISL. thank you in advance. tania

  5. hi go2net,

    im wondering if you are still living here in VI. im a filipina as well married to British national. me and my family just moved in VI 2 weeks ago. and im dying for new friends around. Are you still teaching in AISL?. we are looking at your school website and planning to put our son in your school as soon as he turns 3.

    we are staying next to oniru palace. is the school anywhere near us?

    Ive been looking at your blog and it seems like youve been in loads of places here in lagos and probably have a good internet connection (which we dnt have just now).. if you could recommend us few places..

    hope we could be friends 😀

    anne_bait_ko@yahoo.com

    • Welcome to Lagos! You will find there are many Pinoys here: telecom engineers, teachers, sushi chefs, hotel supervisors, managers, at saka yaya. Contact the admission director of the school kaagad kasi mahaba ang waiting list dito for pre-school at pre-k.

      • ill do that maybe i can go and visit the school soon so i will know how far it is.. my husband is an exec. chef in the upcoming INTERCONTINENTAL hotel in VI.. if you know any good chef let me know, they are recruiting locally right now… oh my, i thought you cant get a filipino yaya over here.. do you know how we can bring filipino nanny over here? I badly need a good nanny/cleaner specially filipino. i have a nigerian cleaner just now and i cant trust her much in handling my boy, plus she is not that good. and she cant work week end. coz she is studying..

      • went to AISL yesterday and we love the school.. problem is they will accept our son only by august next year because he is born October.. whew.. anyway, will register him soon so he will be lined up for next year 😀

      • Hello and good morning. My name is Yul Coronado. I arrived in Lagos on 3/18 and currently staying in Victoria Island. I am here temporarily (+/- 60 days) and would like to know if there are Pinoys on the Island and how to get in contact with them. A Filipino restaurant perhaps? Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

      • Lots of Pinoys here, and I think the best way to find them is to go to hotels like Oriental or Four Points Sheraton where some of them work … or a Japanese restaurant/sushi bar where the chefs are also usually Pinoys. In VI you can go to Bungalows, Seventh Heaven bistro, Banzai … but no Pinoy restos.

  6. Smiled at your blog,nice to know you settled in well,and thanks for giving valuable information to others like you.i am an architect and lecturer at the department of architecture,University of Lagos…..but I also run an agency spealised in recruiting,training and placing professional nannies,housekeepers,babysitters and chefs in homes like yours…..are training are in chidi are,housekeeping,hygiene and most importantly first aid and CPR….for more information vist http://www.nannynigeria.org…..we‘re also here to make sure others like you settle in quickly with professional workers who will make your transition smoother….especially in the home front…..regards….Enitan Oloto

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