So, we’ve spent the last couple of months getting to know our new city. Overall, we think we’re going to like it a lot. It’s very, very different than Jos. In some ways we like that, in others, not so much. Here are a few of the differences we see:
- The weather. Oh my word. It is so hot and so humid here. We sweat all of the time. Some days I shower 2-3 times just to keep my sanity. We’ve spent a good chunk of our savings putting in AC window units to use at night so that we will be able to sleep. It’s a big, big change. Our previous city was known for it’s moderate and amazing climate. We wore hoodies for 3-4 months of the year. I really, really miss that.
- The retail scene. There are malls with shiny things. There are grocery stores with meat packaged on styrofoam trays and wrapped in celophane. There are more than 3 cheese choices at the grocery store. There are fast food restaurants with counter services that serve pizza, ice cream, french fries and cheeseburgers. There is a movie theater and a bowling alley and a miniature golf course.
- The clothing. Well, let’s just say I brought the wrong wardrobe for this city! Here, women wear very western clothing. Skirts at the knee, sleeveless shirts, and even blue jeans are very common. Having come from the land of long skirts, full sleeves, and head coverings, I have been in culture shock. I feel like a frump when I go out in my “Jos” clothes, especially when Sunday morning church rolls around. I keep telling Ryan that I need a trip to the States so that I can refurbish my wardrobe. He’s not buying it.
- The security situation. That’s probably the single biggest difference. We feel like we can go most anywhere safely. I even take taxis by myself. I am pretty sure that when I get my International Driver’s License, I will even feel like I can drive here. Recently, I went to the grocery store by myself for the first time since we left Canada, it felt so weird. But, I feel very safe here and I feel like the traffic and the authorities are so much more manageable.
- The hustle and bustle. There is definitely a big city, urban feel here that we didn’t sense so much in Jos. We miss the “front porch” culture we’d found there. I hope we can find great relationships here, with time.
- The rules. People tend to follow them much more here. They wait in line. They don’t create extra lanes on the road. They say excuse me when they walk in front of you. Nigerians have a reputation of being very “me first.” It’s become obvious to us, after being here that it is definitely true. There is a significant difference in the way people interact.
- The electricity... we have it here. Nearly all of the time. We’ve only lost power 3 times in our 2 months here. I don’t think we had more than 10 days in the 14 months we lived in Nigeria where we had continual electricity for 24 hours. Nearly every single afternoon I thank the Lord for my empty laundry hamper. Electricity is way cool.
But, for all of those differences, there are many things that are very much like our former life:
- Time. It’s still relative. Punctuality is not considered necessary. Haste is unheard of.
- Skin color. We’re still white. They call us Obroni here instead of Bature, but it means the same thing. You’re white, therefore you are rich and you hold far more resources than you need. You should pay me more, give me more, dash me more...
- Customer service. The bottom line is, we have yet to experience the “Customer Is Always Right” mentality. If it’s on the menu and we don’t have it, it’s the customer’s problem. If it’s broken, it’s the customer’s problem. If you have to wait 30 minutes, it’s the customer’s problem. This has been particularly frustrating to me because somehow I thought that in the land of shiny things that would come. It didn’t. I nearly snapped one day at a Chicken Inn. Then I decided to lower my expectations. Considerably. Outings have been significantly better since then.
- The worship. It’s still beautiful seeing folks who have so many struggles sing praises with such abandon. It’s still so convicting to me.
- It’s not home. I still really, really miss the people, the places, the comforts of home. It’s not as overwhelmingly different, but it’s definitely not home.
All in all, I think we’re settling in well. We really miss our friends in Jos. It doesn’t seem like we could ever have the same calibar of relationships here that we had there. But, a year ago, we felt the same way about our lack of relationships there. So, I’m trusting that the Lord will bring that in time.