Living a Sheltered Expat Life

This week marks our 3rd month in Lagos, Nigeria. I’m not proud to say we haven’t done much more than spend our time in Victoria Island, where our school/flat and most grocery shops are located. We ventured a few times to the beach, Lekki market, and Balogun market … but only once or twice. You can say we’re living a sheltered expats’ life, because we have not been idle either.

Family Fun Day

I’ve been to the high tea/membership meeting of the American Women’s Club held at the Lagos motor club. Can’t say I’d be attending most of their events, as they usually schedule these during school hours, but I get regular announcements of their activities by e-mail to know what I’m missing or not. We’ve also been to a few restaurants, but find it too expensive to dine out too often — at least $30-$50 per person. This is one reason why we prefer to eat at the restaurant of US Consulate Guest Quarters (GQ for short), where our son can also enjoy the toddler size pool and playground. And we did go to the Marine Ball, although some colleagues said we should have gone instead to the “Sail Around the World” fundraiser dinner at the Lagos Yacht Club, which was less formal and more fun, featuring food from different countries and also a live band. Oh well, there’s always next year; and we’re still glad we attended the Marine Ball and met the marines from the Philippines and Washington state.

Nigerian Culture Day

But don’t get me wrong, we’re not bored and we’re not complaining. Having a toddler and living in school simply means 90 percent of our time is well, spent in school. And there’s always something happening here, like the Saturday soccer and other after-school activities (gymnastics, swimming, karate, etc.), which meant lots of people — including kids for James to play and interact with. Our social committee organized a cricket game for the staff, and a wine tasting social on another occasion. Some colleagues invite us to their flats to admire and purchase handicrafts like batik and wood carvings by their favorite artisan-vendors.

Fall Bazaar

We’ve had Family Day with bouncy castles and train rides, Nigerian Culture Day with cultural presentations, and the Fall Bazaar featuring more vendors of Western African handicraft. Next weekend I’m looking forward to the PTO carnival which will have rides, games, costumed characters, disco, and food booths. Sometimes it feels like the entire expat community just shows up at our doorstep.

After living in Islamabad, it’s weird but refreshing to see so many expats with babies and toddlers in tow. Many of them have been here for years, like the Bolivian family we met today. They’ve been here for seven years after planning only to live in Lagos for a year, and now have three children.And last month I met a fellow Cebuana who has a son just three months younger than James. She is married to a European who has been in Nigeria for 24 years. I love it that our circle of friends continues to grow and include parents of kids!

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