Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Short Stories by Lucy in Dutse (don’t pronounce the ‘t’ in Dutse)

1. Three (out of many) brilliant statements made by my colleague:
“You are not looking so smart today in your knickers!” said to my friend who was wearing cropped trousers.
“I will give you five minutes. This is a one minute exercise.” said to participants at the workshop.
“I will answer this question quickly as time is against us.” 25 minutes later he stopped talking!

Me, my colleague Kalli, and the consultant Barbara who came for the Financial Planning Workshop. Barbara secretly bought me a kettle and mugs as a surprise for my new accommodation ready for when I finally move.

2. On my first night, I was woken by the rattling of the windows, the howling of the wind and the sound of heavy rain on the roof. Outside the trees were wildly blowing and the rumble of thunder was continuous along with the bright flashes of lightning that flickered constantly. The next morning I mentioned to the driver about the huge storm and he shot me down sharply, shouting, “No, no, no! Not a storm! Just the rain!”

3. The ESSPIN office is very posh, as nice as any in England. But, as it is has become too crowded, they have asked for more office space within the States Education Board office area. After requesting the new offices to be cleaned and swept on the previous day, the deputy office manager declared that the office move would take place this morning.
So, the drivers piled in about 5 large bags/boxes of documents and 8 of us got promptly driven to the new offices.

Upon arrival it turns out that there are only 2 very small offices with 2 very small desks in each room! It was immediately clear that we would not all fit. While I squeezed quietly into a corner, the 7 large Nigerian men, in billowing white robes, undertook long, loud discussions, much moving of furniture, (which resulted in a broken desk) plenty of movement between the offices along with lots of opening and closing of doors.

I was sent back to the ESSPIN office, laughing to myself in disbelief at the disorganisation of the procedure. It has been announced that I will be used as bait, for speed of gaining the extra office required as soon as possible. (This happened a month ago and have heard nothing yet!)

4. One morning I borrowed Igwe’s (guest house manager’s) clean shiny bike to do some exercise, not realising that is had no gears, the brakes didn’t work and the saddle would not stay upright! I still managed to cycle for half an hour, awkwardly hovering on the saddle and carefully crossing the roads. I guess all of their bikes are like this, or worse and often they are carrying huge loads too.

5. On Saturday mornings I trek (the word ‘walk’ is not understood for some reason, so you go trekking everywhere) to the local field to run around the football pitch. It is full of adults (95% men) playing football, running, athletics, basketball and squash. This week I was asked to join the local girls’ volleyball team. Although not a huge fan of volleyball, I luckily did myself proud as they quickly realised I was a good setter. Although if you did not shout “A-MEN” after every point you won then the coach got really cross with you. Twice the coach made girls roll in the dirt for doing a bad pass and if they did it again he said he would make them roll in muddy puddle!! He said, “One day you will thank me for the punishments.” Despite the abuse I am going back again. I enjoyed the singing and dancing warm ups and the female company.

6. The best part about living in the guest house is that you get to meet many interesting people. Last week, the 3 new guests took me to the local Greek restaurant each night, trekking in the dark, through the mud and in the rain!
On the last night I ordered pounded yam and vegetable soup. The pounded yam has a consistency like play dough and the vegetable soup is not watery, but a moist mash of vegetables, mainly spinach. You are supposed to eat this kind of dish with your fingers.
Although I have already had some practise at this, I get a bit nervous as I know the Nigerians are watching me proudly enjoy their dinner in their manner. Of course, you get really messy and the nerves made my hand slightly shake! So I ate really fast to get it over with. Then, the Nigerian man sitting opposite me promptly ordered me some more because he thought I loved it so much!! Luckily it did taste good.

Here I am in the restaurant eating with my fingers.

7. After a week of eating out in the local Greek restaurant that sold no Greek food and had the same 4 dishes on the menu each night, a visiting consultant made up this limerick for me:
There was a young lady called Lucy
Who came out to work here in Dutse,
She stopped eating ham,
'Cause she loved pounded yam
With vegetable soup and egusi.

8. One of the guards taught me the trick to having clean smelling clothes, which I was pleased about as one of the things I was starting to miss was fresh, clean clothes. You spray room freshener on them as you iron them.


  1. Hi Lucy

    It's good to read all about what you are up to!
    It looks like there is always plenty going on!

    The volley ball sounds fun, glad to see you are getting out and about!

    We are all back at school, it's surprising how quickly you get back into routine. I miss seeing you around school (and your mini!)

    Look forward to your next blog!

    Take care

    Diane xx

  2. Hi Lucy
    You seem to have settled really well and doing some fantastic things
    I have been very homesick but am better now we are in Kampong Cham now starting language training
    will send more details later
    Lots of love