Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Two months and one day in Nigeria

So I have been in Nigeria for two months, but this is an attempt at “a day in the life of me” because when I spoke to my Dad the other day he said he wanted more of a picture of my day, so here is a combination of yesterday and a typical day, hope its not too boring, but I thought I may as well share it with you

Waking up:

I set my alarm for 06:30 but normally wake earlier, one of the first questions in my mind is whether there is electricity, it is quite clear as there is a ceiling fan over my bed, and I definitely turn it on at night even if there is none when I sleep. Funnily enough by morning it doesn’t really matter if there is electricity, the main time it matters is when I am trying to sleep, one as the fan helps to create some air, and cools me a little, and two as the many noisy generators won’t be running.

Sometimes of course I wake up in the night and the fan is on and I can still hear the gens! Very annoying, but then I think if I had a generator, I would probably be fast asleep enjoying my air conditioning and not getting out of bed to stop the generator annoying my less fortunate neighbours.

And in case that is not clear, we do not have a generator or air conditioning.

However a glass of cold water from the fridge is always welcome!


Today it was mango, normally its bread, sometimes I eat because I’m hungry, more often because I am taking anti-malarials, and you are supposed to take them with food. And of course I have tea, always tea, with have a gas cooker so that’s easy.


And we have hot water, which is amazing, when we have running water and electricity at the same time which is reasonably often.

Travelling to work:

Its close, look at my google map, we walk, about 20 mins, take a “shared transport” (small mini-bus) for 20 Naira or a drop (taxi) for 150 Naria. My Abuja places


Well it’s just work really, today I am working on a proposal to the Swiss Embassy for a small grant to install an efficient wood stove in a school in Niger state. I am also working on the Clean Energy Bill, which is really an advocacy attempt to raise the profile of clean energy in government. Then there is my to do list, the Clean Development Mechanism, Carbon Trading, Small Hydro, and an article I am to write for the Daily Trust.

Water and tea:

We have a kettle and a water cooler, for those who know me this is very important, I drink a lot of tea and a lot of water, they both work when the electricity is on. When the electricity goes off we run off a battery and there is only 2.5kW for the whole office so air conditioning is replaced by ceiling fans and hot and cold water are replaced by warm water!


There is a place just opposite where we usually eat very tasty rice and beans. Nigerian food is full of “pepe” and mostly I like it. They do eat “cow skin” which is served at our cafe, and I can’t say I have yet developed the taste. Its usually served in a kind of roll of skin, a couple of times I have found it chopped up in a stew, yuck!

After work:

We finish at 5, and go home. Again the question is there NEPA? NEPA stands for Never Expect Power Again, well really its stands for Nigeria Electricity Power Authority or something which has now been changed to PHCN Power Handling Company of Nigeria or Problem has changed name. At this time of day electricity means, a cold glass of water, and maybe a hot shower. Once its dark it means electric light versus candles and the sound of everyone’s very noisy generators.

Yesterday the regional director of VSO was in Abuja and he took the volunteers for dinner, most evenings involve eating, staying in to read book / play scrabble / study / watch film, or going out for a drink with colleagues or other volunteers, (there are 5 of us based in Abuja).


The good thing about a big portion of rice and beans for lunch is that bread will do in the evening. I like cooking but its challenging here for so many reasons, mainly to do with electricity. Our fridge is fine at keeping water cold for a while, but in this climate even tomatoes can go off in one day, carrots may last two. So at the weekend I cook, but when we have had a good portion of rice and beans at lunch time, we tend to just make a sandwich or eat eggs and bread in the evening.

And so to sleep:

I tuck in the mosquito net, I turning on the fan, and if there is no NEPA, I inserting my ear-plugs and so to sleep!

Exercise or the lack of it:

Well as you know you are supposed to do this at least three times a week or is it five?. Since I have been in Abuja I have been jogging twice, and swimming about four times, some of the swimming could be termed exercise, some could be termed cooling off in the pool. So I still have work to do here! If sweating can be a measure of exercise, I can stream with sweat just sitting in the house, does that count!

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