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For Carlos and Many Others Like Him

I have a couple of posts planned out, but I just had to take a break to write about this instead. I saw a very disturbing video, which among other things, is proof of the recent wave of poor leadership and governance we keep seeing at highest levels of government. Since it was quite a traumatizing video, I will not post it here. I will, however, attempt to describe what I saw in the video as best as I can, and then continue from there. The video shows how a sixteen year-old boy died of the flu at one of the border detention centers in America. Not only did this boy die in custody, this video contradicts earlier reports given by Border Patrol officials.

In the video, we see sixteen year old Carlos Hernandez Vasquez struggling on the floor in his border patrol holding cell. He is clearly writhing in pain and looks disoriented. He then walks to the bathroom, where he collapses by the toilet and remained motionless. Hours later (as we can see from the jump in the time on the screen), his cellmate finds him in the same position, still motionless. Immediately, his cellmate calls on an agent (or Physician Assistant as some are saying) who then determines Carlos has no pulse.

He passed away.

He was just sixteen.


Few months ago when this first happened, the U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that he was found unresponsive in the morning during a welfare check. Obviously, that is not what the video shows. The video shows that his cellmate found him; a significant difference. Reports also allege they already knew he had Influenza, with a temperature of 103, and instead of being taken to the hospital, he was left there. He was left on the floor, alone, probably scared, and in pain. This poor baby (because a SIXTEEN year-old person is a BABY) was burning up and left with a tinfoil blanket and on a concrete floor. He was one of six migrant kids to have died while in custody. And to say I am heartbroken would be the biggest understatement of the year.



There is a lie we human beings, especially Americans love to tell ourselves: that human beings are inherently good and that there is "sooooo" much good in us as a collective, as a human race. That could not be further from the truth. Human beings are desperately wicked. And even the Bible confirms this. Because tell me, how have we so lost our humanity as to allow this manner of evil among us? What kind of a government [what kind of human beings] does this to children CHILDREN!!! The measure of a society can often be found it how it treats its young and its old; how it treats its most vulnerable. On both measures, we have failed. How can you leave children, not only separated from their parents, but left on concrete floors with tinfoil blankets? It is disgusting. It is inhumane. And by God, it is wicked.

You want facts, I will give you facts:
SIX children have died since December 2018 [when the 'zero tolerance' policy kicked off fully] after being detained by border agents. Approximately 69,550 unaccompanied children were detained, and the recent data tells us 3,900 children are still in custody. These children were torn away from their parents, with no hope of when next they will see their parents and/or guardians. Although migrant children have crossed the Southwestern border in large numbers during the past decade, NONE has ever died in federal custody until now; until this administration.

The video of Carlos dying might be the most  horrifying thing you would see this year. But maybe that would be so jarring, it would spur us to action.  Maybe it will make us shine light on this darkness.  Can you imagine his family having to see him die like that; having to watch him die on television. Let me say this again, YOU CANNOT JUST LEAVE PEOPLE TO DIE LIKE THAT.  No. no decent country, much less the United States of America should do that. And if this does not anger you? I don’t know what will. Heck, even traitors to their governments, even despots, and rapists, even pedophiles have gotten better treatment than these kids are getting.

I will do you one better: DOGS get better treatment than kids at the border detention centers are getting. I know for sure we WOULD NEVER TREAT ANIMALS like that. If a dog or a cat were being treated the way these kids are being treated, there would be fiery protests across the nation. Are they saying that dogs and cats matter more than brown and black lives? More than immigrants? I am so sick of this disregard for black and brown lives, and this blatant attempt to destroy us. Are we saying "the greatest country in the world" cannot afford mattresses for kids? Or is this just some deliberate attempt to be wicked? Help me understand.

When you think even more carefully about it, you will realize there is so much physical and emotional trauma that will result from this experience. Think for a second about the other kid that found Carlos dead. He is never going to be the same. These are God's children too. Or oh, did you think God's children are only caucasian? Because these people running along dangerous borders and fleeing wars and famine are legit children of God too, and most, if not all only do this because they want a better life. Is that such a bad thing?

Why have we no dignity? And HOW DARE YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN?  A follower of Christ?  And in good conscience support anybody who actually allowed this to happen? If you condone this type of behavior, and support the very people—broods of liars and thieves—that  permit this, I don't want to know you. Incase you haven't noticed I am very angry and distraught. And you should be too. The Bible talks a lot about injustice and God's intolerance of it. God emphasized the need to take care of the oppressed and the marginalized. God was big on welcoming foreigners and taking care of them. Yet people in today's world care more about an unborn fetus than those poor babies separated from their parents. This is a very dark stain on America's history. And history will never forget this.

Most times, to demonstrate this heinous behavior, people say, imagine yourself as a child being snatched and separated from your parents. Imagine the trauma, the separation anxiety. But I say, even as a fully formed adult, forcibly taking my parents from me without telling me when next I would see them would kill me. And then these people are doing it to KIDS. Children, for crying out loud! The people that are implementing these policies, how do they sleep at night? I mean, the Border Patrol officers? How do they go home to their own kids, their own families and sleep well at night?

Father forgive us for we have sinned. Because a country that allows this to happen has sinned gravely against God.

Whatever you do, and in whatever capacity, we can't let all of this nonsense continue. So next year, vote like your life depends on it because if you are black or brown, it might.  I started this post thinking about how helpless I am (and we all are) in situations like. The helplessness even brought me to tears.  But you know what? We are not entirely helpless. GET INVOLVED. Volunteer on campaigns, donate, whatever you do, make sure you are part of the solution. At your own slice of life, be fair, be kind, and always treat people with dignity. Me? I am going to do all I can including pray, to make sure  I am part of the solution.

I will end with Ayanna Pressley's words:
I am lifting up this story; I am lifting up Carlos Vasquez in the hopes that you will see the light and if you don't, we will bring the fire.

Love, and justice,

I

EATING MY WAY THROUGH LAGOS PART III: SOME FOODS YOU SHOULD TRY IN LAGOS, NIGERIA

Hello, and welcome to the third and final (for now) installment of the Lagos food series. The Lagos trip might be over, but the good news is it brought inspiration for something new.

I have held out for long enough. I'm finally doing it. Yes, I am adding a "food" category on this blog. There are so many food related things I want to talk about and I can hardly wait to begin. The good thing is I warned you here  that this blog is about a little bit of everything. Plus remember, we are all about doing things that we love, yeah? Every single thing. So that one decade from now, no one is pressuring you about how the decade is about to end and what do you have to show for it. Stop that, people lol.

Anyway, so I love food photography, which is basically just me taking pictures of my food and other people's food.  On Instagram, I noticed I was always posting food stuff and thought to embrace that even further. I have decided not to stop. So I will post more about it here or better still, feature other people's posts and reviews of food and restaurants on here. Woohoo! I want to say I will learn more on the art of food photography but that's not true; I probably won't. Lol. So my pictures will for sure be amateur iPhone pictures of food, if at all lol. There will also be interesting recipes perhaps once a month or once or year? Haha. This also means if you have a restaurant or food review or story from any part of the world and want to write about it, and you need somewhere to post it, hit me! Hahaha.

Anyway, on to the matter of the day. So one final post on food in Lagos, which I hope you enjoy. I either mistakenly deleted some pictures or I just don't have them anymore. I really wanted this to be about places in Lagos that are affordable and most people can buy from. I think to a large extent, the below are and if they are not, it's because most places in Lagos are actually expensive. Please remember, as with part II, that I will try to give my honest opinion as best as I remember. To be honest with you, recording the foods I ate plus the whole experience of going to a restaurant with an aim to not just have a good time, but record that good time sparked the interest of making it a whole thing on the blog. So I'm glad about that. Disclaimer 1: I don't think I am a foodie. At least, I don't think I have an eclectic/diverse enough taste to be called a foodie. Disclaimer 2: This will not be  really be restaurant reviews, I don't have the range for that haha.

Enough with the talking, enjoy!

First on the list is Yellow Chilli. I have eaten at Yellow Chilli before, the one at GRA. And I think it's generally good. At least I love the vibe there. This time around though, there was just something about it I didn't like. For the main course, I had stewed/peppered fish and fries. The fries, I believe needed more salt (but I like salt). The fish was just meh. My friend, E had plantains, Efo (vegetable stew), and shrimp (?). The Efo was really dope except it had no protein: no fish, no ponmo and other such stars of an Efo show. For the appetizer, I had goat meat pepper-soup and that was pretty amazing. E had peppered snails for appetizer; also really amazing!

Stewed fish and fries


Efo, plantain, shrimps (?)


Goat meat pepper soup
Peppered snail



An honorable mention is the coconut doughnut from Shoprite that was mentioned in part one. It is making a comeback because it's really good. Though I eventually became tired of it. So there is that.

Coconut doughnut

The travesty below was from TFC, and blegh. It is apparently called "native rice". They call it some other interesting name. And while it has the potential to be nice, it was drowned in oil. And we all know I hate food with excess oil.

Native Rice

And now to one of my favorite corners in Lagos, Cafe Neo. I did a LOT of dissertating at this coffee shop like I mentioned in part II. I really, really like the place. And bonus is their coffee/beverages are really good. The staff was also really great, which is a rare occurrence in Lagos.

iced mocha or some variant

Take two

Another honorable mention is the one and only Fanmilk SuperYogo that had been rescuing me since secondary school (high school) and is still apparently a life saver in Lagos traffic.

SuperYogo

For the next one, I am not going to say the name of the place because I am almost certain I made the wrong order. BUT see, I am a green smoothie aficionado, which just basically means every single day (except I am traveling), I have a green smoothie/juice. I also have a high tolerance for the most disgusting-looking green goop, BUT what you see below was honest-to-God the most disgusting green smoothie (or drink of any kind) that I ever had.

Yikes

Now on to sweeter things, literally. This gem from Hans and Rene (a self-proclaimed gelato place) was DELICIOUS.

gelato

I got the next photo from a fast food, but I'm not sure which: TFC or Sweet Sensation. Either way, it was pretty dope.

Yum!

Now we are moving on to a touchy subject: pizza. I love pizza as my Instagram would show you but I'm also somewhat of a pizza snob. And I can tell you MOST pizza in Lagos is trash. I will tell you this for free. But I always held out hope because everyone said Debonairs had pretty good pizza. Well, I finally tried Debonairs. It was ok. The toppings combination was lame and very restrictive. Overall, a B minus. Sorry. A good bonus was the ice cream though. It was great, but let's face it, you'd have to try really hard to make ice cream bad.

mediocre pizza

this vanilla swirl though...yum

On to the next: another sweet treat. This time froyo from Pinkberry. If I'm not mistaken, Pinkberry is an American company and we have it all over America. So you probably already know about this. In that sense, it's an honorary mention.

A lifesaver

Okay so now we have  food from a place called South Eatery and Social House; one bougie place in Victoria Island hahah. I have to say, as I think back to many of these places, it's not really the food that is memorable as much as the time spent with my loved ones, you know? In that sense, restaurants are more than just places to eat. They can be an ecosystem, a social chamber for love to thrive, right? Anyway, so yes, I ordered Jambalaya. Ermm...so it was not bad. But it also was not very good. I should mention, it was my first time having Jambalaya (a food native to Louisiana) so it's possible I just don't like Jambalaya. The jury is still out on this. My friends, R and Z had burgers and fries (it was called the Chicken Sammich) and I think they made better choices than me. Ignore the soggy looking fries, they were actually tasty.


Jambalaya


Chicken Sammich

Chapman

Now onto brunch!! I love brunching, again see Instagram haha. So I was excited to get brunch with my friend, E at Orchid Bistro. And let me tell you, my only regret is I had not visited this place earlier. I loved their food. I had waffles, and forget how weird it looks, it tasted really great. The restaurant was also truly a bistro. The ambience, the staff, everything was lovely. The only problem is it's literally tucked away on Isaac John St. and you can pass that road every single day without knowing such a place exists. When E and I got there, we thought we had the wrong address and were literally about turning back. It didn't help that it was raining that day. What the hell was all that rain about anyway? Ugh

Coffee

Waffles and some sad looking apples, Lol

Loved the ambience


Breakfast

E's meal


Our food

This is getting really long, but let's keep going. The next food is from a place in Lekki called Kohinoor. We all had pepper-soup. S had catfish pepper-soup with a side of plantain, E (a different E now LOL) and I had goat meat pepper-soup, with sides of plantains and fries, respectively. S's catfish pepper soup was HUMONGOUS. I mean, it was sorta scary haha. They didn't like their plantains, I remember that. Otherwise, everything was quite good. The ambience was really lovely...and edgy I think. There were motorbikes parked inside the place. And I think it doubled as  a lounge and restaurant.

Feasting

Or breaking bread as E calls it hahah

Pepper-soup, again

Catfish pepper-soup

Yum

Remember my previous frustrations with Ofada? Well, I finally had a great one. And it was basically someone selling close to E's house. Cheap and incredibly cheerful haha.

It was spicyyyyy

The next item is not a food and is mostly an honorable mention. I was with my cousins for most of this trip and every time I went out I would bring some sort of food/gift back for them. So at some point, my seven-year old cousin figured I always used to give him stuff and wanted to reciprocate, which he did in the most seven-year old way: he gave me his juice from his lunchbox. It was the sweetest. Haha

Packed with sugar and some vitamins? LOL

I cannot possibly write about food in Lagos without writing about Small Chops. I don't know how to describe it for my non-Nigerian audience. They are basically finger foods that are appropriately hyped, served in parties, sold after church and just all around fabulous. A decent Small Chops pack/dish/plate should have puff puff, samosa, spring rolls, and some grilled protein. Similar to Small Chops is Asun (grilled goat meat). Man, these are good stuff. E and I bought these after church at Daystar whenever we went. I love Jesus but I gotta say, one huge reason I followed E to this church for several Sundays was for these babies. No shame in my game. Haha.


Small Chops in all her glory

Asun.


And so with that, I round up this excruciatingly long post. Lagos is annoying for several reasons but food is not one of them.

Should I have divided this post into two parts? Probably. But we move.

If you read all the way, you are the real MVP. Too many long posts in a row so I will try my hardest that the next post on this blog is very short.

Thank you for reading, and if you ever try any of these, definitely let me know.

Love,

I

Much Ado About Traveling and The Danger of Self-Care in Our World

Bon voyage? Or nah?

Travel.

When I was much younger and did not travel as much as I now do, I used to list travel as a hobby. Surely, nothing can be as fanciful and luxurious as packing a tiny bit of your life into your suitcase, scurrying through crowded airports, getting on a plane and jetting away into God-knows-where? Then I grew up and found the answer to that. Only a few things are more horrible than leaving home at the crack of dawn or maybe ridiculously late at night to meet long lines at a check-in counter; then walking a few miles (depending on how stupidly large the airport is) to another ridiculously long line so some stranger can basically press your breasts to be sure that you do not plan on bombing a plane or hijacking it; then after surviving the horror that is TSA, you realize you are starving because you left home too early for a plane that does not leave until a few hours, but then again airport foods are overpriced if  at all you manage to find anything decent enough to be consumed (God save you if you are traveling out of Dulles); only to get on a plane where they honest to God serve the most disgusting piece of thing (called food) you have ever seen; and then you are trapped in what is basically a tube for some hours so much that your legs hurt and your skin is so dry, there are visible scales; then you land in another country but are too jet lagged to do anything, and when you finally get the chance to, your stomach hurts and your body just won't adapt to different climate; so you stay there miserable (but fake being happy, of course) for a couple of days; and it's time to do all of the above over again. Except this time you have to resume work the next day.

Whew.



I tell ya. Traveling is not all it's cut out to be. But that's not what you see online and on your Instagram timeline. You are told traveling is how you discover yourself. It's the next best thing since slice bread. In fact, it is now being touted as self-care. Hashtag self-care. Sigh. SELF MOTHERFREAKING CARE. Every single thing is a self care trope these days. And I worry that the capitalist and consumerist world we find ourselves in has somehow managed to curate the idea of self-care as something that you need to sink money into. When the truth could be entirely different. Maybe travel is overrated. And maybe sometimes self care is paying down your student loans [or other debt] instead of taking another trip where you spend more than half the time taking pictures to convince the rest of us that you really are having fun. I think it can be classist to sell traveling as this thing everyone has to do in their lives. Is it probably good to see other places and cultures? Yes, perhaps. But is travel the one true zenith of an accomplished and purposeful life? No. absolutely not. And whoever sells it as such to you is a liar.

I don't like to travel very much. Newsflash. Plane rides make me mad uncomfortable. I spend too much time worrying about safety and other shenanigans in the new place I am visiting, and it takes too long to adapt or revert to my normal whenever I return. Besides my own personal bias and dietary concerns about traveling, I genuinely think traveling can be overrated. Now would I stop traveling? Probably not. I accept and admit that traveling can be exciting and I love making memories with people I care about. But I will never make it my life's mission to "see the world" or "travel".  I will travel with people I care about if it means getting to spend time with and making memories with them, of course. People pose travel as this opportunity to learn grand things about yourself and the world. And I bet you, you can learn the same things in your room, on your bed on a rainy Saturday morning. Except this time, you would have saved yourself thousands of dollars and a few million bacteria. I don't think the act of travel has ever been a form of escape for me, and I don't think it should be for you either.

People say they yearn to learn about other people's cultures and experiences. Fair enough. Except most of y'all go to other people's countries, villages and never know how to properly behave. You crap on people's customs and call them bizarre the minute you find them different from you. If no one will tell you this, I will: going to a remote village for the sole purpose of your once-in-a-lifetime magical experience or some eat-pray-love crap is just...a tad selfish if we are being honest. Not to mention so many big cities have an underlying framework modeled so similarly that you might think you are having a de ja vu moment just walking down the road.

And let's face it, you are way too busy taking the perfect Instagram photo to learn anything about your destination. So while traveling is not a terrible thing, I need people who travel to get off their high horse and drop the sheer hubris that emboldens them to think because they have hopped from plane to plane, their life is better than others. The worst are those of you that have the guts to go to ANOTHER PERSON's place of dwelling, take a picture of it as a contrast to your designer clothings and USE THEM TO EXPLAIN WHY PEOPLE SHOULD BE THANKFUL BECAUSE AT LEAST THEY DON'T GET TO LIVE SO TERRIBLY. Please don't go on Instagram to celebrate  and take solace in the fact that your life is not as impoverished as those whose village you are in. And if you're white, I beg you with all things precious, do NOT...I repeat, do NOT take pictures with "poor, starving kids in Africa".

I was going to call the second part of the title, "the danger of self care in a consumerist and capitalist world" but it would have been too much of a mouthful. I think business enterprises have mastered the art of marketing their services and products, carefully parading them as self-care, because then it becomes a necessity, a requirement if you will, to a great life. When in reality, to truly have a good life you don't need most material things. Self-care has also become an indulgence; a carte blanche for recklessness and irresponsibility.

Traveling by itself is not what gives your life meaning and this is why I dislike the spiritual connotation attached to travel. If you can afford to, and you want to, then yes do it! But please do not travel and then make a post about how life altering it is. Because that's bullshit, and as someone who has been privileged to travel, I'm here to tell you not to fall for it.  You have been told traveling is a necessary investment you must make in yourself; depending on who you are, it probably isn't.

People brag about how travel has enlightened them and broadened their thinking, but all it takes is one conversation with people to see that they are still the same close-minded, ignorant person they were before packing their suitcases. I mean, what does finding yourself even mean? Seriously, humor me. Tell what what finding yourself means. Who you are is not a result of your mileage or one single experience; it's series of life events, memories, people, backgrounds, culture. You don't just wake up to find "yourself" on a 5 day trip to Belize. Traveling gives you another one of the million things that shape you. I would argue you are even more likely to "find yourself" in the mundane; in your normal; in  the midst of your routine.

I say all this not to demonstrate my hatred for traveling or visiting new places. Far from it; I don't hate visiting new places or traveling. On the contrary. I have a lot of traveling to do if I feel like (and can afford it), but what I will try hard not to do is sell it as the path to purpose or joy or happiness or worse, self-care.

Love,

I

P.S: I understand if you stopped reading halfway. Yikes this was long. Wuuttt. I did warn you about longer posts, didn't I?

P.P.S: To make up for this rant against travel, I shall write something on surving traveling or traveling efficiently, I promise.

P.P.P.S: If you are tempted to make this personal, get over yourself. I had absolutely no one in mind while writing this, I promise again.

P.P.P.P.S: Oh whatever, someone will for sure make this about them, I promise again, again. Hahaha. Enjoy loves!

Friday Reflections

1.) Have you read this recent post on how to conduct fieldwork for your research?

2.) Keep your goals to yourself. As someone who doesn't really like to talk about her goals, I quite agree with this TED Talk.

3.) An old schoolmate recently passed away, and I was really shocked. We all were. Normally, this sort of thing bothers me of course, but I was even sadder than I normally would be.

4.) I was (and I think we all were) utterly confused. But then I remembered our hope in Christ; I would like to say God reminded me of our hope in Christ...our hope for eternity...our joy despite sadness. My prayer is that God grants peace and comfort to her parents, family, and friend.

5.) Okay, is anyone else over the news? (whew started writing this more than three weeks ago, and yuppp, still OVER THE NEWS).

6.) Okay so, get this: Aja Newman checked into Mount Sinai's emergency room with a shoulder pain. Then a famous ER doctor sexually assaulted her.  A whole medical community and other gatekeepers worked to shut her down. Aja Newman won. This story is mind-blowing, powerful, and worth the read.

7.)  The truth is, David Newman would never have stopped if not for the bravery of Aja Newman (yes, a BLACK woman once again saves the day). That woman is what you call a bad ass, a fighter, and hella fierce.

8.) This brought tears to my eyes. And now I'm thinking of all the impactful and kind human beings I have been fortunate to cross paths with.

9.) The five stages of taking  a public shit. Lmao. Besides sharing that post, I also wanted to highlight the blog and (blogger) behind it. She's really creative! Oh also, maybe I should be randomly sharing blogs I like.

10.) Should I be including a fun (or not), interesting, random photo from the week in Friday Reflections? Hmmm. Thinking about this. In the meantime, check out the Instagram page, I always post a Friday dessert to get you yearning for sweet treats haha.

What Exactly is Fieldwork and How Do I Get Started on My Dissertation Field Research

Ho ho ho, back with another Grad School and Academia series post. I hope they are not becoming too frequent? It's just harder to write about something else, considering what is taking front row in my life now. *drumroll* You did not guess it right Lol. But yes, I am currently conducting field research in what Americans like to call, Africa. Yes, I'm in Africa Lmao. I'm kidding, I am in Nigeria for fieldwork for my research. This post might have several different parts that, depending on how lazy/busy I am, will be posted over the next few weeks (hopefully, not years). Don't worry as you will see in the forthcoming posts, fieldwork is not for the fainthearted oh.

Ibadan, Nigeria

I realized this might be confusing for a lot of people so I will do my best to explain. Depending on your field of work, this is especially in the Social Sciences, but if your work focuses on a region outside of America, there is a huge chance there is no data available for the research you want to conduct. In this case, you would have to visit the country or countries you are studying. In my case, I am lucky enough to be studying my home country (there will be a post on pros and cons of this idea, by the way). Field work, therefore, is collecting data outside of your office or laboratory or the library. This means, field work can be a Zoologist going to the zoo. Or a Botanist going out to study plants. Even people studying Americans also do fieldwork: could be heading out to study prisoners, or cops, or firemen, or Congressmen. But that's boring, let's talk about the more exciting aspects, shall we?

Yes, going out of the country.

University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Now that we have that out of the way, fieldwork varies a LOT. A Whole LOT. And I think that if you are not careful, you can waste a whole lot of time doing fieldwork. it is one of those things that is so amorphous, it can truly never end. So the best thing is to set a date for yourself, a deadline if you will. Because I have seen people conduct fieldwork for two years. And of course in this time-wasting category, I exclude ethnographers. Unlike the rest of us, ethnographers seek to be embedded in a society, to observe and study a way of life by becoming a part of that way of life. I have serious critiques of some ethnographic work, but that's not why we are here today lol.  But be careful, lest it's the tenth year of your phd and you still don't have a dissertation.

Fieldwork can also entail collecting both qualitative and quantitative data, like I am doing. (So ask me questions, guys. If you have any, just shoot me an email. Er...no please SEND me an email. You can never know with Americans, ahem). So with this in mind and coupled with LIMITED funding (cos y'all know in academia, it's always limited), I had/have a game-plan: I am determined to not waste my time. It's really that simple. Everything boils back to maximizing the amount of time I have. I am not saying my specific duration because I don't want you witches monitoring me (I didn't even know whether to post this after I had already left). But yes, generally, fieldwork ranges in duration. Last year, I had a short preliminary field work for one month. Some do more like 6 months to one year. Some do less, like 3 months to 4 months. so it depends on your work and your plan. Now, how can you even get started on your field research? Well, keep reading.

Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria.

1.) Go back to your proposal. I reckon you had or are currently writing one? You must pass and defend one before they even allow you proceed to fieldwork, no? So what did you say you would do in that? Keep in mind that things change when you get to the field. But the more details you can have at the proposal stage, the better for you cos then you can hit the ground running. In your proposal you also probably have explained how exactly you plan on collecting data. Since I am in the Social Sciences, I will give example from the Social Sciences. So for instance, you might need to observe certain groups of people. You might need to interview some key informants. Or perhaps, it's a focus group? Alternatively, it could be archival data that is only available in an obscure library in southeastern Zimbabwe. Or it could be surveys of citizens of that country. Or data from the government. It could be a  myriad of things. It could also be a combination of various methods. As much as you can, explain how you intend to obtain data to test the hypotheses you put forward. I realize this point can be particularly helpful if you are just about writing your proposal. So again, should you have any questions, ask away!

2.) Reach out to people beforehand: now if you are going to be interviewing people, you definitely need to reach out to people in the place you are going, telling them about your work and the fact that you will be coming over for your research. Even if you are not interviewing, and perhaps all you need to do is participant observation, you still need to reach out to folks. In fact, it might be prudent to be affiliated with an organization. The institutional back up can be incredibly helpful. All you have to do is reach out to one person, explaining who you are and what you do. It's a simple enough template saying, you are xyx, a Ph.D candidate at xyz, studying zyx....and so on. Be precise, be concise, and in many cases people respond very well. Not everyone will, but someone will. If you need institutional affiliation, keep reading below but know that you need to have reached out to them even earlier.

An exciting townhall meeting!

3.) Leverage your connections: you might be wondering where on earth you would find someone to reach out to in middle of nowhere, Romania. But you would be surprised. First of all, what works have been done on Romania? Surely, someone before you has gone there for field research. Email them. I found lots of my contacts by cold emailing (yup! worked like magic for me). But I also found some by chit chatting my friends who do work completely different from mine, telling them what I do and where I'm going. And a little oh wow I know this other person who does xyz, and bam it snowballs from there. Do not ever underestimate the power of the connections you have built so far in life. And don't be shy about talking about your work. While in the field, I desperately (emphasis on DESPERATELY) needed something that could make or break my work. I was at my wits' end when I messaged someone who is kind of a personal shero to me, but who I have only met once at a conference. I sent an email to her, half expecting she would be too busy being a badass to respond. By the time I woke up the next day (a SUNDAY), she had responded. And the person she connected me to helped me tremendously. This was after weeks of worrying that my whole plans were coming crumbling since I could not find a solution.  I will NEVER forget her kindness. So talk about your work, and email.

4.) Ask your advisors and professors for help: if you have tried cold emailing, and leveraging your own connections, and nothing bites or you still don't have enough for where you are going, then it's time to pull in the big dogs. For my preliminary trip, I was really shy about cold emailing people. I did not want to be a bother (NONSENSE) so I reached out to my advisor, and he reached out to someone who reached out to someone who was very helpful. So of course talk to professors who do similar works to what you do. Of course, be prepared, not all professors will be helpful. Some do not really like to "share" connections. So don't take the no or the silence personal. However, your advisor probably will and if they don't, honey, we are dealing with a way bigger problem here. Let's talk in camera. By my second time around, I had wisened up and sent emails to any and everybody that could even remotely help. And for the most part, everyone was incredibly kind and helpful. Except for a few jerks here and there. But who cares about those?

5.) Social media: thank God for this thing. If all else above fails, go to TWITTER. Okay so this is dicey because you can't just go one day and then bam find what you are looking for. It takes a systematic and continuous use of it. Follow the right people and just keep on. You can even be incognito, but follow some people whose tweets you like and whose works and reputation you respect. Something would lead to something and then, you would find they could be of help. Tweet at them!

6.) Calculate cost: okay this should probably be at the top, but you need to count your cost. You really need to figure out a very good estimate of what this trip would cost. Ideally, you should have this figured out a year before so you can apply for funding opportunities. Field research is expensive for various reasons; one of which is plans change, and sometimes what you bargained for changes. So set realistic expectations of how much you will need. And apply for funding opportunities like your life depends on it. Because it kinda does.

7.) Figure out housing and other logistical aspects: where will you live? How will you get around? How do you plan on keeping safe?  Please and please, please make sure your safety is paramount. Please. No research is worth your life. To do this, you need to have been in proper communications with someone on ground that can be trusted. This is another reason that institutional affiliations are prudent. You also need to understand you are a visitor where you are, you have to respect their customs and way of life. I mention this because there is often a sheer hubris among researchers that makes them feel like their research trumps all and everything. It doesn't. If in that village or town, they don't allow recorders, then don't record. If interviewing political officers is wrong, then don't do it or at least don't be so blatant about it. I also want to say as a researcher doing field research, ask yourself how you plan to give back to this community that is contributing monumentally to your research. Don't just take and take and then leave them worse than they were. Give something back, in some form.

All of these seem like a good starting point for field research. In subsequent post in this series, we will talk about other things like the day-to-day aspects of field work, where to do your field research and so on. This was incredibly lengthy, but bear with me, a lot of things needed explanation. As always if there are questions, let me know. I am not an expert (not even close since I am still learning a lot and asking questions myself) but I can share what worked/works for me and together we can be great lmao.

Love, and some adventure,

I

Eating My Way Through Lagos Part II: Some Foods You Should Try In Lagos, Nigeria

Here is part one,  first of all. Second, devil really did not want y'all to see this post because I have been trying to write this for the LONGEST, and I mean THE longest time. Third, I am definitely not a food blogger if the quality of these pictures are anything to go by. Okay so on to the post. Have I mentioned that I am currently in Nigeria for my fieldwork? I probably have. Have I also said I need to post useful stuff on fieldwork? I probably have. Now, have I posted any of that? Nopee, because something is wrong with me. As with part one, I was determined to take as many pictures of food as I possibly could. Whereas the problem with the last one was taking pictures in front of people, the problem with this is finding the time to actually sit down to eat. Of course, none of these people paid me or anything so these are honest opinions. At least, I try to give a honest account to the extent that I can remember because this brain of mine is thinking of a LOT nowadays.

The above was from Sidewalk Lounge, where S's husband threw a surprise get together to celebrate her. The food was amazing and easily the best I have had in Lagos. Loved it! There was roasted corn, roasted plantains, chicken, turkey, asun, all manner of potatoes... a platter essentially. Yeah it was really good. Now, when I told E about this, she was very surprised because apparently she had a bad experience with the food when she went so that's interesting and noteworthy. As for me, I had great food, and great company. All in all, 'twas a great night.

Some more food from Sidewalk. Before


After
Okay so on to the next. The below was from Casper and Gambini's . I know, I know, it made the last list too. But if you remember, we didn't actually eat the last time. This time, we did. This time around, I specifically asked to not taste the sugar in the mojito and it did not disappoint at all. It was good. They also served some bread before the main course. I remember the food coming out really late, and then we waited an even longer while before the bill came. So note that. As for the food itself, I ordered a sandwich that was too cumbersome to eat and got pretty exhausting really quickly. My friend E had a suya lobster and that was nice. We also had calamaris as appetizers and yes that was really nice.
















It took a while to remember this next one, but I'm pretty sure it was from The Place. Again, we gotta do this, Lol: The Place is the name of the place. So this was, I think, a stir fry pasta with their asun. It was not very memorable, but frankly I don't think it was cooked with the intention to be. The Place is basically fast food at this point.



Okay the next is another fast food meal, I think. However, it was really GOOD. From Sweet Sensations or so. Okay it just occurred to me I have not been talking price. For the fast food options, they are pretty cheap affordable. The actual restaurants come with really hefty bills (I'm talking about N10,000 to N15,000 per person without alcohol). Speaking of which, in any currency, isn't that pricey for the services being rendered. I don't know but I know it is pricey for the average Nigerian. To give you a specific idea of what some of these Lagos restaurant, the sandwich from Casper and Gambini's cost probably about N8, 000 or so...for a measly sandwich lmao?  Still I don't believe the regular joe goes even to a fast food when they want to eat. There are cheaper "restaurants" or "buka" options that are really, really cheap. Anyway, enough of the sociocultural and money talk. So yes, this Ofada rice and stew from Sweet Sensation was truly good. It tasted authentic and had lots of meat too. What more can a girl ask for?





The next one is from a restaurant called Bungalow, where I went with my girliess, R and Z. Whew the initials of my friends are something, no? Lol. We had a good time here and certainly NOT because of the food. This food took FOREVER. ha. and When it finally came, it was very underwhelming. Who puts corn in jollof rice? Yuck. Okay, it was not tasteless or anything. It was just really unimpressive. R ordered a burger and My God, I have never seen a sadder looking burger. Actually I did see one, but story for another time.





Okay here is another fast food meal below. Chicken was nice. But rice? Not so much. Oh and it's from somewhere called Chicken Republic, which is apropos.


Now, onto street food hohoho. I don't know how to review suya. I just know Suya can be disastrous or it can be exceptionally good. This one was the latter. Whatever you do, do not go to Lagos without having Suya. Well, except you're vegan or vegetarian, then ignore. The rest of you, make sure you eat Suya if ever in Lagos. You will not regret it. Suya is basically meat, a special kind of roasted/grilled meat with a special kind of pepper. I don't know how to describe Suya so just eat it jare.



Puff puff is another street food you should have. Unfortunately these ones below were not good. They were too thick and then I don't know what monster decided to add pepper to puff puff. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE should there be pepper in puff puff. And I can tell you for free that my people (*cough Yorubas cough*) are probably responsible for this travesty.






This next one I want to talk about is Cafe Neo, not because of the food but because of everything else. A nice coffee shop where you can work in peace and solitude? Yes, please! I was quite impressed to have such a cool sport in Las Gidi. (Oh gosh, remember when we called it Las Gidi. That is sooo 2008). They have various branches in Lagos. And I really really liked the idea of the place. I should also mention, that the coffee and other beverages are REALLY good. Like exceptionally good. The only annoying aspect was that their website boasted of several food options when in reality, they did not have most of them. That was very disappointing. I also suspect this happened because the branch I went was not on the Island.




And there you have it, part II of my food chronicles from Lagos. There certainly will be a part III. Though I should mention, being the terrible food blogger that I am, I keep forgetting to take pictures. Ugh.

I hope you enjoy this. And if you are not Nigerian, I hope you get to visit Lagos someday. A city us Lagosians love to hate, but also incredibly love.

Love,

I