Friday, December 31, 2010

The 244th good thing about Lagos: A taste of the good life on the Chevron compound

We have friends with young children that live on the Chevron compound.  Chevron has a great family "camp," they call it, which is a neighborhood like small town America.  The only drawback about the camp is it is out of the way on the Lekki expressway which is notorious for bad traffic.  So many Chevron expats just stick to life on the compound and don't leave it very often.  Our friends will soon leave Lagos and when they needed to take their "look-see" trip to their new overseas location, they asked me if I would be willing to stay with their children for a few days so their kids could stay at home while they were gone.  I was happy to get in some grandma practice and experience the good life at Chevron.  I won't post pictures of the compound here, for security and privacy concerns, but for a week after my babysitting duties ended, I was frequently remarking to Brent about the joys of life at Chevron.  Their houses are wired with both 220 and 110 volt outlets so you can operate US and other appliances without adapters and transformers.  You can drink their water right out of the tap -- it never looks like this.  They have houses with yards and garages and I could walk to visit other residents.  They were even growing their own pineapples in their yard.  (Caveat:  I was warned by my friend that there were rats that had taken up residence under their porch, so she was restricting the children's back yard play time till that problem was resolved.)

 I would go with the kids to the playground each afternoon -- and sometimes they would ride their bikes on the street to get there.  (Caveat:  I was told by the children that they couldn't go on to the grassy area next to the playground because there was a snake there and if it bit them, they would DIE.  I learned from other moms that the week before some residents on a walk had encountered a black cobra about 4-6 inches in diameter and 12 feet or so long.  It was threatening a dog they were walking and they also felt quite threatened by it.  It had been captured and killed, but apparently these cobras go around in pairs and they hadn't found this one's partner.  So many residents were operating on a high level of snake alert.)

There is a bus for the children to take to school, but because of the horrible traffic on the road, they need to leave at 6:15 AM.  My friend has a wonderful cook/nanny who fixed great meals each night and would stay till after we ate to clean up the dishes.  If I wanted to attend a social event, she was there to tend the young children.  She had another woman who cleaned the house each day and her driver was available to do the shopping and he also did the ironing and other errands.  So basically, as the mother of young children in this Chevron camp life, she could concentrate on mothering without all the other busy work.  That's a REALLY good thing for her.  She said that Lagos was a really good place for them at this time in their life. 

Life isn't perfect at Chevron, but, for me, it was an oasis and a very pleasant diversion from the hardships of life in Lagos.  I could get used to it, but I don't think I'll have the opportunity to do so.

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