Um, I’m going home…to America…tomorrow. Not quite sure how that happened. Time is a weird thing. It’s been nearly six months in Liberia and time for our mid-year break in the States. On the one hand, a day can often feel like an exasperating eternity here in Liberia, but oddly enough, the weeks and months seem to have passed rather quickly.
Admittedly, I am feeling a little sad to leave Tim for nearly a month. It’s not been an easy stretch for us in Liberia and I feel a bit guilty leaving him here while I go home and chill. But, he has graciously encouraged me to go, to rest and to just have fun with some of my favorite peeps. I am truly grateful.
Ya know how when you’re in another country for an extended period of time, you begin to plan all the things you’ll do when you get home? Well, I do anyway…
1.) Cheese and wine at The Nova (definitely worth a trip to Hudson www.thenovaofhudson.com).
2.) Breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen (http://hellskitcheninc.com) most excellent homemade peanut butter!
3.) YouTube videos with Christine (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW2_xXMelR8)
3.) Mom’s tacos! (10018 240th S, Hawley MN)
4.) Browsing Anthropologie (www.anthropologie.com) with whoever wants to join me….Jeanna?
5.) Punch Pizza! (www.punchpizza.com) The best pizza outside of Italy!
6.) Tea at Aunt Nita’s (Apartment # 205) Licorice Mint, please.
7.) Coffee at Jen’s (Jen’s easy chair) in my boundary water’s mug
8.) Four wheeling with Dad and Syd (any gravel road in Rollag)
10.) Boat ride on the Sea Snapper with Tim and Syd (Lake Franklin)
Oh, and I have to add just one more…
11.) A HOT shower (don’t care where…)
Ok, I really have tried my hardest to set aside my ethnocentric ideals and embrace the differences within this society, but come on! Since Tim began driving in Liberia, we have been pulled over numerous times for no apparent reason other than we kind of stand out…to be expected, I suppose. The Liberian officer struts up to the driver’s side window bobbing his head up and down and back and forth like a dubious rooster. In the most intimidating voice he can muster, he squawks,
“AW MA! YO NO DRI SAFE!”
To which we reply, “I’m sorry, Officer. What in my driving was unsafe?”
“I AM AN OFFICA OF THE LAW! I DESER YOR RESPEC!”
“LE ME SEE YO LICENSE!”
“Ok, here you go, sir.”
Officer William puffs up his chest and circles the car as he examines Tim’s license. “AWE, NO MA! U.S. DRIVA’S LICENSE NOT VALID IN LIBERIA!”(which is false, but nevertheless)
“Fine. Here is my Liberian driver’s license.”
Officer William looks surprised, then disappointed.
“YO VIOLA SECTIO 23851235432B OF LIBERIAN TRAFFIC LAW!”
“I don’t understand.”
“YO WEARIN’ SHOES?” He spits out, thrusting his head in about 2 inches from Tim’s face.
“Yes, sir. I am.”
“YO CARRY A FIRE EXTINGUISHA?!”
“OK, GIVE ME 20 DOLLA OR I IMPOUND YOR CA!”
Completely stalling traffic, this nonsensical argument continues for a few minutes as the officer continues searching for some fanciful violation he can use to bribe us with.
We’re not carrying a fire extinguisher, but THIS?!! THIS is fine.
And my personal favorite:
But in all seriousness, civil corruption is a major problem in Liberia. According to a study conducted by Transparency International, Liberia ranks highest (meaning, the worst) in the world when it comes to corruption. It can be seen throughout every level of society from parking lot attendants up to the highest government officials. I’m starting to realize that the institutionalized fraud I experience everyday is largely responsible for the chaos that is contemporary Liberian society.
Most properties in Monrovia are walled and gated for security, which is kind of a bummer because it makes it really hard for me to spy on my neighbors when they are “making palava” (a Liberian phrase meaning domestic dispute). The barricade between their property and the SFL guesthouse make it impossible for me to satisfy my inapt curiosity, no matter how much racket they are making.
I recently detected a peculiar sort of wailing coming from the house next door. At first, I thought it simply a despondent child crying for their mother. As the days progressed, I became concerned that no one seemed to be attending the obscure cries. I listened more carefully.
I am reluctant to say it, but I began to wonder if perhaps the wailing was coming from a handicapped or worse, possessed child. The eerie cries came bursting out at a freakishly repetitious rate and continued on and on without tiring.
My unease grew into fear. What if there was such a child and no one was watching over them? Another day or so passed and the unusual crying began to morph into a sort of rhythmic chant. It sounded like an old woman moaning some kind of mystical spell…over and over and over…or, that’s how my twisted imagination interpreted it.
We asked one of our Liberian co-workers about it. He said casually that it was probably just one of those Pentecostals…that they sometimes walk around the community praying blessings, etc.
This explanation did not satisfy me. I decided to investigate.
The actual culprit?
What a funny guy…He sure got us, boy!
Or, not so funny. The crying has now stopped. I can only assume the neighbors are having goat soup for supper…a traditional Liberian dish.