Living life as a marathon or a sprint…

Lagos life is becoming reminiscent of my old London life; fast-paced, not enough ‘end’ in my week, long journey times to reach nearby destinations, and opportunities to do so much, that I couldn’t even write it all into my diary let alone fit it in.

Rainy season this time around has been like no other I have known, for this time of year. Having returned to Nigeria at the end of August, it seems like not a single week has passed when the skies haven’t darkened, day has somehow turned into night skies, and plans have been set aside due to heavy downpours. Even yesterday, as I traveled to the beach hoping to get some ‘fresh’ sea air into my lungs for a reprieve, we found ourselves amidst a full canvas of rains, leading us to be wetter than if we had simply jumped from the boat and immersed ourselves within the lagoon. Arriving at the beach house, shivering and having the sensation of being a drowned rat, my simple choice was to submerge myself under the pool’s water. Despite it generally giving me an initial chill to the bone upon entry, I found myself warmed and soothed. Better under the water than it crashing down upon me.

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Making a personalized Irish coffee, to warm me through the rains,

There is so much of this place that I love. Yet I am working all hours that I can manage, still I find I am behind in almost every deadline that I face, and thereby of course, I feel like I don’t see much of these loves….

I have more invitations that I can keep up with, even in memory let alone in action, and I have missed some fabulous creative events, that generally make my life here all that richer. I missed the Lagos Photo festival,Lagos Photo festival, the Lagos Fashion week, many operas, meals with friends, dates with potential new relationships, the incredible Art X exhibition, jazz nights, embracing the spectacular Felabration, enjoying the incredible Ake Arts and Book festival held at the newly built Alliance Francaise that is no less than five minutes walk from my house.

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Mauritius, myself and I

So, I have now been here for two weeks and have just arrived in my third and final hotel. The weather has not been as good as anticipated; though I knew it was winter here, that had meant for me some very cool evenings but mostly fine days. Instead there has been a lot more rain within this than expected. Yet I admit, I have no reason to complain. I have been off from work, in beautiful surroundings and the wet weather has given me more chance to study.

I would like some more sun rays now though, for my last week here! That said, I have been delighted with stunning sunsets, and glorious rainbows.

It is indeed romance-central across the island, and though I had been pre-warned that much of the island’s draw as a tourist are the spectacular 5 star hotels it boasts, I could never have imagined this until I saw them with my own eyes. (My drive up the East coast yesterday opened my eyes to hotel complexes I have never imagined could exist). Meanwhile, I have now spent time in both the North and South of the island, and thanks to having hired a little car, I have also circumnavigated the whole perimeter of the island and feel I have a good semblance of how it varies from region to region.

I can certainly state that it isn’t an easy place to meet people as a solo traveler, as this seems to be quite unheard of here. And I would most definitely recommend getting a car if you are coming here, whether solo or with others. It takes a lot longer to get to places than I expected given the size of the place, and though the beaches and the hotels are the main draw, you cannot easily get to one from another without transport. Also, in times of inclement weather it is useful to reach another quarter of the island, as chances are where the rainbow ends, the sun will be shining.

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Goodbye is not forever

This expat life is not the one I ever saw myself taking. I got on that plane years ago, because I wanted to live in Africa. I wanted to wake beneath the African sun, hear the songs of the African sky, and sleep beneath the African stars. Uganda was to be my forever home.

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And then it was no more.

It has been a few years now since I have lived in Lagos, Nigeria, and at times it is hard for me to ever imagine living elsewhere, least of all the UK.

It has it’s ups and downs, of that I can be very sure! And often I wonder why I am still living there when it has caused much separation from loved ones and favored foods and places. Yet ultimately I land back upon the same conclusion. Africa continues to live in me. I do not fully know what the magnetism is for me, but it remains. And for now, this pole is centred within Nigeria.

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Life is a beach…until it’s oh so not

Life isn’t always a beach. This is true indeed. Nor is it always plain sailing. Would we want it to be? Would we feel inspired, invigorated, challenged, awakened, aware…any of these things, if it were?

It is fair to say I have been feeling incredibly jaded. I have been reaching a level of emotional burnout, through the effect of various pressures, both externally and internally. And this takes its toll. Once stress is enabled to build-up within us, the effects become long-lasting, have damaging results health-wise, and our mental state feels the hit, hard.

Happy to say however, that though my pressures continue, I have turned some corners. With workloads and with facing some social anxieties head on, (by reconnecting with an old female friend), as well as treading the boards of my beloved dance floor once more. Is it fair to put the blame of all these stressors onto living in Lagos? Maybe. But not entirely.

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Disparate days

I’ve lived in various countries and many, many cities. I have worked across many of the workplace realms, at differing employment levels (from Social services, to Education, to hospitals, to catering and hospitality). And I have traveled to, and explored, quite a few countries also.

But never in all of my experiences can I ever recall days as disparate as the ones my eyes see and my feet tread here, in Nigeria. It is truly a fascinating, if not deeply heart-wrenching life I feel I am wrapped within. I often find myself spinning inside the spider’s web of confusion, intrigue, wonder and sadness.

Take for example this past week. I myself have been experiencing some health issues. As I am assigned a hospital through my workplace, I have been having tests with them. I have then been administered drugs to relieve symptoms. Yet for the second time in less than a year, the meds prescribed are ones I am highly allergic to (to the point of possible death)…

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Sail away with me…

I love the sea. Pure and simple. I am always so much happier when I am near it. I financially crippled myself for years to be able to afford to live near it. I nearly died once when I was in it. (Nitrogen bubble in my spinal cord). And the first thing I said when I was properly conscious again, was to ask when I would be allowed to dive in it again. It’s part of me. As much as the blood in my veins. I believe in reincarnation and in truth, I believe a fair bit in magic too.

Perhaps I was a mermaid in another life.

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When I lived in Uganda, it was bitter-sweet for me most days. As I could see the Lake Victoria from the rooftop, where I would spend time practicing yoga, making skype calls, or simply drinking my coffee and watching the birds fly overhead. But that lake is filled to the brim with Bilharzia and so it was; I could see the water, but I would never be in the water.

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Lying low in Lagos

Quite some time has passed since my last entry and in many ways life has transformed in such a way, that it was a stranger who was last here as the author. In the time-lapse, I have been back to England to undergo a full knee reconstruction, which turned out to be of a much greater extent than anticipated once I was under the knife. Quite frankly, the interior of my knee was a shambles, and it needed a huge tidy up and rebuild.

I was heavily reliant on support and thanks be to the Gods, (or the higher powers that be), for the fact that I am deeply blessed to have angels in my life that stepped right up to this, aiding me in more ways than I had possibly imagined ever needing. Not least of all with mobility, but also with feeding me when I was unable to stand for long, supporting me to wash and also to help me stave off the demons that the pain kept drawing in.

My return to Lagos was a bumpy one in numerous ways and it was a challenge for me to still be so reliant on others, whilst I know the people here so little. That said, I needn’t have worried. My driver, Ojo, almost burst into tears when he met me at the airport; shocked as he was, at the sight of me coming out of the gates in a wheelchair, and in a full leg brace. He has been a real crutch (haha, fun with a pun) since then and it has been nice to have this caring aspect in my daily life. Likewise, the expats I share a building with, have been so hugely open-hearted towards me, providing me with many meals, keeping an eye on me and offering help with food shopping and general pick-me-ups.

I have now been back for just less than two months, with the roller-coaster of recovery being ongoing and transformative. It is quite something not to be able to just get up and walk around, whether it be to make a quick drink of water, to pop out for some fresh  air, (hmm, I use that phrase loosely given the awful quality here) , or to move from one side of the room to other when I am teaching. The longer I am stationary, the higher the pain level, and with the Lagos traffic as it is, this is one of my current life challenges.
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Returning to the roots of those who have walked here before us

With an increasing frequency of more universal messages arriving to my ears, I feel a oneness and inherent belief that despite the whiteness of my skin, my source is here within the lands of Africa. In fact, colleagues of mine this past week even said as such; “are you sure you aren’t really African Miss?

From this, it makes complete and natural sense that my mother should have made the difficult (yet well-worth it) efforts to meet hectic visa requirements and end up here in Africa beside me, albeit for only 10 days (due to her busy schedule and multitude of commitments). In the 1940s my grandfather was here in Nigeria, and some 70 years later, so now has been his daughter, beside her daughter in fact. She brought with her letters of people who loved my grandfather for his kindness, and she was able to see firsthand, what the difference is like for life here in comparison to wherever “there” may be.

In some ways, it was such a rushed time having her here, having only landed here myself some two weeks prior. Of course, the initial intention had been that she would have been beside me sharing my affair with Uganda. But come she did, regardless of where the “here” now was. Thankfully, due to my adaptations to African ways of living from my Ugandan time, I was able to adjust relatively quickly and speedily to my new surroundings, such that by the time she arrived, it was smooth enough for her and I had many things in place. I have not yet really traversed the lands, but I rapidly began to suss out the ways of them and be able to support my mum with the intense adjustments she had to make from being in the UK to being here in Nigeria.

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Now. New in Nigeria.

Life twists and turns in so many ways, and almost a year ago to the day, I interviewed for, and made the final decision of, a move to Uganda, East Africa. Now, in 2017, I move forwards to another moment in time and find myself landing upon a new lily-pad – this time by the name of Lagos, Nigeria. This was a highly unexpected and unforeseen move, for various reasons, yet here I found myself, treading the waters of footsteps that have gone before me …. even those of my late grandfather, who worked in this country (though further along the coast) as an engineer over 60 years ago. In this change of an un-designated and thus un-mapped story of my wanderings, I walked forwards towards a new wabi-sabi; discovery of beauty in imperfection; the acceptance of the cycle of light and death.

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The time thief. By what can it be measured?

Just less than six months ago, I sat, bewildered and uncertain, as I boarded a plane from London Heathrow to Entebbe, Uganda. My heart ached in ways that I hadn’t felt for eons of time and my inner excitement was stirring yet confused. And I found myself stepping onto the East African soil for the first time. I watched as a silent observer to my self, how I responded to all that was occuring and I reflected on the passing of time, wondering what on earth this concept really means to us all, when it can vanish in instants whilst it can also expand out into unknown and at times, inconceivable lengths. Continue reading “The time thief. By what can it be measured?”