Saturday, February 13, 2010


(Hour 3 of four hours stuck in Lagos traffic.  Note Ashlyn's "sweat rag," as she fondly calls it.  Ashlyn thought things couldn't get worse, until a police officer jumped into our car and demanded (I mean, 'suggested') a bribe.  
You all should totally come visit me!  Living in Nigeria is too much excitement for just one person!)

I woke up around 4am the other morning in a pool of sweat and in desperate need of some water.  (Have I mentioned that it’s hot in Nigeria?  Especially when there is no power and no breeze?)  I got up and grabbed an open water sachet, but halfway to my mouth I remembered that the day before I had gone to drink from an open sachet and found tiny ants floating in the bag, so I had to dump it out.  Then I figured that I can’t see the ants in the pitch black and probably wouldn’t be able to taste them, so I drained that sachet anyway.

This incident has impressed two things upon me: 1) I sweat a lot in Nigeria and therefore drink a metric ton of water every day and 2) my standards of cleanliness and sanitation are quite low.  But not as low as James’ standards – he has eaten pizza after dropping it cheese-side down into wood chips.  Also, a Belgium waffle that had fallen on the street, whipped cream topping and all.  (I feel bad for our future children.  We’ll just make them eat right off the floor so that we don’t have to wash extra plates.)

Now that I’ve brought up James, I’m going to embarrass him even more by blogging about my sweat mustache.  Because sometimes Diana complains about the cold Amsterdam weather and wishes she was somewhere tropical, and I say, “Be careful what you wish for . . .”  I wished to study African history (still happy with that choice, by the way), but now I’ve developed a permanent sweat mustache.  The ‘stache first appeared when we lived in Ghana.  One day James, feigning indifference, asked me if I noticed that my upper lip was beaded with sweat.  Of course I didn’t notice – when your eyebrows and elbows and scalp and in-between-your-toes are sweating, how can you be aware of a little upper-lip sweat?  But sure enough, there it was – and as fast as I could wipe it away with my handy-dandy handkerchief, it would appear again.  Bummer.

(Attempting to rid myself of the 'stache.)

I found the sweat mustache extremely irritating (so did James), until I remembered the most important rule about living in West Africa (well, apart from “Drink plenty of water, but not from the tap”): You must embrace the sweat.  When it’s hot at home, I can move quickly from apartment to car to air-conditioned Target (for example) – there is sweat, but only for brief moments.  When it’s hot in Ibadan (that is, always), I have no place to hide.  Sometimes, I even sweat as I’m taking my bucket bath.  I sweat when I eat.  I sweat when I walk.  I sweat while I sit in the library.  You get the point.  I drink lots of water (from little plastic bags . . . so awesome) and then sweat it out.  I accept the sweat; I revel in the sweat.  But I always wipe away the mustache.

(Ashlyn, how do you feel about the weather?)

Standing at the top of Olumo Rock in Abeokuta . . . sweaty, but fun.


  1. I'm not actually complaining about the cold; I'm just remarking on the chill in the air and how my body's core temperature seems to be permanently lowered. Just kidding, but wow it looks hot there!
    Where's the hill that you climbed located? It looks really pretty there.
    Oh, and thanks for mentioning Target. Now I can think about how much I miss it. :)

  2. Nevermind about my question. I now see that you clearly stated the name of the rock and the city. How long does it take to climb?

  3. Gotta love that swe'stache. Just wait till you see my rocking stache. Wait...I just realized my face might actually light on fire when I arrive if I keep this beard growing. Maybe I should rethink this.