Lagos Beginning of Year 2

It’s only been a month since we returned to Lagos for our second year of teaching, but I continue to surprise myself when people ask how we’re doing and I reply, “everything is better this year!”

Why won’t it get better? Our son is almost three and continues to get more independent and self-reliant week by week. I can go in and out the door, and most of the time he would blow me a kiss or say “See you later!,” or just ignore me. He has his group of friends to hang out with, so does Brian (that is, now that Fantasy Football season has started) who started playing tennis every afternoon. And I got my own gang of Pinoy friends courtesy of a fellow Cebuana (hi Bernol!). Best of all, our husbands and sons get along, too — so playdates and double-dates are easily organized with little planning. We thank WordPress for this wonderful friendship because we came to know each other when Bernol read this blog last year.

Why won’t it get better? We know most of our students, and we have settled into an easy routine working and living in Lagos. I can actually work from home now, because James is happy to play with his toys or read books, or watch Handy Manny or the Little Einsteins on DVD. I even get some extra time, so much so that I picked up a couple of pastimes that don’t involve computers. One is beading — Western Africa is a great place to buy beads (antique and new), and to my delight, Bernol took me to a hobby shop in Ikoyi that sells beading tools and accessories at reasonable prices.

My second “hobby” might just be getting re-acquainted with old and new recipes. The seeds we brought last Christmas have finally been planted over summer. Starting last Monday we harvested the Italian Basil, cilantro, flat-leaf parsely, and romaine lettuce from our balcony garden. Our cook and nanny did all the work, so I could not really take much credit. But some colleagues were impressed because others have tried unsuccessfully, and no one thought these herbs and vegetables would grow in Lagos. We were lucky in Islamabad, where we grew the same, so I didn’t think it would be that hard. I may have certain advantages: fertilizer, lots of sunshine where it’s needed (basil plants love sunshine), and the rainy season. And the lemon grass that another Filipina friend gave us is still alive. One colleague said that I also didn’t have to deal with bugs and garden pests like her friend did, because our balcony is on the third floor.

The soil has also been reconditioned. Our nanny used our plant box for her own vegetables for about a year. She did not inform us, and we thought it was nice of them to plant something there with pretty purple flowers. Then we got upset when the plants were cut down to their stems while the flowers were still in bloom, and only when the cook hastily explained that the nanny wanted them for lunch that we realized they were local vegetables. She still has her own garden in the back balcony.

They are both proud of our herb garden though. My husband noticed a special glow in the cook’s face the morning we harvested the first batch of basil, and I made her smell its wonderful fresh scent.

Maybe I’ll try celery next time; they cost $10 a bunch.

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