Our apartment is spacious, high-ceilinged and comfortable. Floors are cool, marble tiles throughout. It is sparsely but adequately furnished. Each of the three bedrooms has an adjoining bath. Like a lot of new buildings, the windows are tinted, further dimming the light from overcast skies outside.
My window at the back of the flat overlooks what appears to be a car park for earth-moving vehicles. The city is still under construction. Windows at the front of the flat are shaded by the courtyard trees and resident birds chirp happily on the window sills.
At the east end of the courtyard, a room-sized generator kicks in every time NEPA takes the light (Nigerian Electric Power Authority) - perhaps ten or twenty times in a day. A large tank of petrol fuels the generator and additional tanks hold reserves of water. Inside the AISA compound, an American standard of living is maintained.
The school provides a van to take new staff around the city for shopping. Grocery and department stores are well stocked; prices are on the high side but some things are surprisingly cheap, like butter and beer. The open air markets offer a wide variety of fresh veges from potatoes, carrots and cabbages to papayas, pineapples, and plantains. The first few evenings, the school van collects the newbies for dinner at restaurants around town – Indian food one night, poolside barbecue at a health spa the next.
There follows a rigorous week of orientation for new teachers which J&J find stressful and challenging. Grandma and Salome go shopping for staples and kitchen equipment or stay home to supervise workers or deliveries. Most days there is time for a swim in the pool. The AISA compound in Durumi, Abuja is beginning to feel like home.