Digging out

February 16th, 2020

We’re still digging out from the delivery of our household effects last week, but things are coming together slowly, but surely. It’s just a lot of work – made more difficult by the fact that I wasn’t healthy enough during pack-out to go through and get rid of excess clothes and things, so I’m trying to do that now. We have one more crate arriving next week with the last of things from storage – argh!

Tuesday was a local holiday – I worked most of the day at the office, but was able to get some things done around the house.

In local news, there is a horrible gas shortage in the country, so there are long lines at the pump. Many of our local employees are having problems getting to work.

We had our neighbors Ian and Brooke over Friday night for pizza, and really enjoyed their company. Last night we went to the DCM’s residence for her husband’s birthday party. He’s a professional musician (he’s done arrangements for Broadway), so the night had a musical theme with an in-house concert. Several local singers performed, with Rick on piano and local guitarists and percussionists. Another woman sang “My Funny Valentine,” as well as a song by Nina Simone who lived in Liberia for a few years. The song recounted the story of Nina going to the disco and having so much fun, she stripped naked! The singer said the story was confirmed by her aunt, who was at the disco that night. Click to see her performing the song in 1987 – it’s pretty catchy!

Sort of like Christmas

February 9th, 2020

Our stuff!

Big news! Our household effects and my car arrived last week – hurray! It’s fun to see our stuff again, but very overwhelming. We basically had the movers unpack everything and just put on the floor or wherever they could find, so now we have a big job ahead of us to get it all put away. It will take a while, but eventually we’ll get it done.

I think there were seven of these huge crates (and one more to come!)

It was another busy week. I met with a very nice UN official one day at her office to discuss an upcoming conference in New York. We have a new TDYer from Senegal, and we had to say goodbye to our beloved Fikir from Ethiopia.

We went to a nice dinner last night with the book club, at Kris and Chad’s house. Interesting company, and we listened to an excerpt of Tolkien reading from “The Lord of the Rings” on an old record album (yes, they have a turntable!).

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Moving along

February 2nd, 2020

With Jim at brunch

Things are moving along here – I can’t believe we’ve been here for two months already!

We had a chance to see Jim again last Sunday for brunch – the restaurant has an excellent ocean view. We so enjoyed getting to spend time with Jim and can’t wait for a return trip!

My co-worker Lea and I went to meet with some Liberian officials this week to discuss adoptions – interesting discussion. We took the opportunity to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant on that side of town. They had good dumplings, but it was a pretty strange place – not sure we’ll be going back.

Lea and I took our Argentinian TDYer Fernanda out to dinner on Thursday – we had such a good time. Fer is just delightful and we have so appreciated her during her three weeks with us.

Friday night John and I went to an open house at the newly remodeled rec center on the grounds of the Old Embassy Compound. They had a nice wine tasting, and we enjoyed visiting with folks after a long week.

I’ve decided Saturdays are my lazy days, so I didn’t do anything very productive yesterday, which was nice!

I want to make a plug for travel insurance! We had purchased a policy for our ill-fated trip to Alaska, and were pleasantly surprised when we received money from them this week! It covered quite a bit of our hotel expenses while I was in the hospital in Seattle, our airfare back home (I had to buy three seats to accommodate my leg), some of the hospital deductibles, and part of the medical evacuation costs – we were thrilled!

John found a little bit of Stuttgart, Arkansas, at the local grocery store!

A bit of home at our local grocers

More fun in Monrovia

January 26th, 2020

At a local restaurant

The weeks are flying by. I keep saying we’ve been here a month, but it’s already been seven weeks! Work has kept us crazy busy, but we managed to have a lot of social outings this week, starting last Sunday when part of our consular team went to brunch to welcome our new TDYer from Ethiopia, Fikir.

Monday was a holiday, and we were invited downstairs for a yummy home-cooked Indian lunch with Sujoya. Great food and company!

Indian lunch at Sujoya’s

We had an aborted attempt to have dinner with Jim Monday night, but he got stuck in horrible traffic that wiped out the evening. There’s only one road, and unfortunately traffic from a big soccer match paralyzed the city. Jim spent four hours trying to go 11 miles! One of the consular officers and the two TDYers were stuck for three hours trying to get home from the beach.

We re-grouped with Jim Thursday night, and he introduced us to a nice restaurant where we could sit beachside, literally yards from the beach (separated by chain link fence). It was so relaxing to listen to the waves crash and visit.

With Jim and John

Friday night, we had Sujoya over for drinks and order-in dinner – we talked for hours! Very nice.

Yesterday we went to a breakfast book club to discuss “The Power,” a Margaret Atwood-ish book where women take over the world and have an electrical “power” – very interesting, although violent at times.

We topped off the evening with Brooke and Ian, our downstairs neighbors who we worked with in Pakistan. Such a nice and fun couple – we had an excellent evening with them.

This morning I have woken up to some kind of gathering across the street with a couple of hundred Africans listening to a Sikh. There’s occasional music and cheering – not quite sure what’s going on. With Monrovia, you just never know!

Nearby on Sunday morning


Small world

January 19th, 2020

Locals look for reusable materials at a recently demolished building down the street from us

The highlight of the week was getting to see our good friend Jim who’s in Monrovia for work – what a treat! We were so excited to see him that I forgot to take a picture, but maybe we can remedy that later in the week when we see him again. We talked for hours – he’s been coming here to work for a long time, and has a deep understanding of the culture and history. When we met Jim and Joan in the late 90s in Costa Rica, I never thought that (1) they’d be living down the street from our friends Mike and Wayne in San Antonio or (2) that we’d have Jim sitting on our sofa in Monrovia twenty years later! The kind of things that make life interesting.

John was gone all week to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for a workshop all week. He had a great time, and came home with stories of a lovely city with modern streets, highways, and tall buildings (at least in the main part of town) – a stark contrast to Monrovia. (For example, his ride home from the airport in Monrovia took almost two hours, yet it’s only about 25 miles.)

Last weekend, a second TDYer arrived from Buenos Aires, so our consular team met her for coffee last Sunday morning. She is as delightful as our other TDYer from Chad. We had a very productive week and are learning so much from them. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Minga on Friday as she completed her time with us. The embassy closes at 1PM on Fridays, so some of us went to a local restaurant for sushi. Afterwards, Minga, Fernanda, and I poked around in the little tourist shops to see if there were any treasures we needed, then we came to our apartment for sundowners – a very nice afternoon.