Also on Caboose: Journeys Antarctica, Kerguelen Islands, South America, Turkey, Cameroon
[Nigeria]Nigerian glossary



Filed under: travel,VSO — kevin @ 09:49

I’m hoping to head off on a trip to Cameroon tomorrow. It may be delayed by recent changes to immigration procedures here which mean that requests for re-entry visas have to go through both immigration and the National Planning Commission. All this for a bit of paper to say that I’m allowed back into a country I’m legally allowed to be in!

Anyway, assuming all goes well I’ll be back in Abuja around the 12th of August.


Back to Kabba

Filed under: friends,travel,VSO — kevin @ 08:40

Jo’s leaving today, so she wanted to make one last trip to Kabba and took Mary, Marebec and I along.

After an uneventful journey on Friday afternoon we arrived and received the usual warm welcome from Father Noel, then had a few drinks. The little plastic toy on Mary’s shoulder in the first picture is Nunzilla, she used to spit fire but since she was dropped on her head she’d not been the same.
Mary with Nunzilla perched on her shoulder Marebec and Jo wearing silly hats Noel and Jo

Saturday started slowly as people gradually crawled out of bed and had breakfast, we then watched a couple of films and went for a walk up the nearby hill (which houses the local TV transmitter). The hill you can see in the picture is “juju hill”, a local religious site, outsiders are forbidden to climb it.
View across Kabba to Juju hill

Bob, Ronan and Dave arrived on Saturday afternoon, so the drinking started again.
Bob, Jacinta, Dave and Ronan


Dodgy toe

Filed under: VSO — kevin @ 15:58

Towards the end of my trip to the South-South I think something bit my left little toe. A week or so later it had got a bit painful and seemed to have formed a blister. It got less painful, so I ignored it for a while but it didn’t go away, time for a trip to the Zankli Clinic.

After a little while being ignored at reception I was whisked straight through the busy waiting room, the doctor took one look at my reddened little toe and pronounced that it was infected (she actually informed me that it was cellulitis but eventually relented and explained what that means). After a medical version of the chop-house game where she established which antibiotics they had in the pharmacy she prescribed some tablets and sent me off for the nurse to clean the wound.

There was a slight delay while the nurse was persuaded to actually come and do some work, as a result of which she seemed a little grumpy. In fact the only thing she said to me was “See, pus!” as she tore off bits of scab and delved around in the (tiny) wound. Afterwards she haphazardly stuck on a dressing and got back to the important work of chatting with her colleagues and reading magazines. This was quite a contrast after the very friendly and helpful doctor.

I’m now wearing sandals to work for a while to reduce the pressure on my toe and hoping that the antibiotics will clear it up before my planned trip up Mount Cameroon early next month.


Star Wars: Episode 3 (and dodgy Video CDs)

Filed under: films,tech,VSO — kevin @ 10:02

We sat down to watch Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith last night.

I bought a video CD of it at the market on Saturday, getting the guy on the stall to check that both discs played, but failed to notice that the discs were badly scratched and it was too jerky to watch. Marebec managed to get hold of another copy, so we settled down in the dark and hoped the laptop battery would last long enough.

The first annoying thing was the presence of timecode numbers at the top of the screen, but that’s quite common on these pirated CDs. The second was irritation that the video had been very badly encoded, making the whole thing look a bit cartoonish and blocky. The final straw was that the disc kept stopping every once in a while with a “media read error”.

I can put up with the occasional skip but it really started to get annoying having to bring up the media player control panel, start playing the disc again and then find the first point after it had stopped where it would be prepared to continue. This is probably a combination of problems with the disc and bad user interface design in WinDVD.

So, I’m not sure what I think of the film. There didn’t seem to be much character development and the big special effects scenes looked awful with the bad encoding. I’ll have to try watch a better copy of it at some point.

I’m sure various people would say that the problems with the discs are all my own fault for buying pirated Video CDs. This may be true but:

  1. On a VSO allowance you can’t afford to buy imported DVDs
  2. I don’t even know where I could buy legal DVDs here

There is no cinema in Abuja, in fact I’ve yet to see one in Nigeria (not counting the burned-out shell of the Northern Cinema in Sokoto). Going to the cinema is one of the things I miss from my former life in Cambridge.


Quiet spell

Filed under: VSO — kevin @ 15:08

Looking back over my website it looks like non-stop holidays and parties, with little mention of work. This is partly because those are more fun to write about than another day sitting in the office and also because writing about work always has the potential for causing problems with employers.

Now that I’m well settled in to my job we’re going to be discussing some of the things I can do while I’m here, where the FRCN people think they need help and where I think I can improve things.

Life at the house is quiet at the moment, largely because there has been no NEPA for two weeks (cause unknown, rumours suggest something to do with unpaid bills at Radio House). With no NEPA we have generator power from around 9am to aroun 5pm on weekdays and no power at night and at weekends. As a result I’ve taken to going to bed around 9pm after cooking in the dark.

We’re currently experimenting with different ways of lighting the house, I bought a rechargable fluorescent light a while ago but being cheap Chinese rubbish it now barely lasts an hour, at the weekend we bought a gas lantern and it seems to be doing quite well. We’ve rejected candles because candlelight is no use for reading and they don’t last long enough, we may yet give Tilley lamps a try.

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