Movie week

October 25th, 2020

Another pretty sunset

John and I watched four movies this week. “Tim’s Vermeer” is a documentary about a quirky inventor who thinks he figured out how Vermeer painted his amazing pictures, produced by Penn & Teller – very interesting. We re-watched one of the sweetest movies ever, “A Man Called Ove,” which we highly recommend, and we re-watched “Gosford Park,” also highly recommended with a brilliant cast. And we watched the new Sachs Baron Cohen movie, which is very raunchy but funny – and breathtaking to see him “get” Rudy Gulliani in a compromising position with an actress posing as a reporter. Paraphrasing someone in the news: if he can’t recognize a fake reporter, how he could recognize a foreign operative?

We went to a small going-away dinner at Anglers for a neighbor/co-worker. I learned that the Atkins/keto diet here is called “Banting” so I’ll have to look that up. It’s a West African thing and supposedly incorporates more local ingredients. Hm. Eating here is my biggest challenge due to lack of fruits and vegetables. I am happy to report that some basil cuttings are thriving in my Mexican pots on the balcony!

We held a virtual awards ceremony this week. John and I were included on a couple of group awards for our work during COVID, which was nice. I was happy to see two of my former employees receive awards I had nominated them for.

Also at work, we invited three people from the civil registry for a socially distanced meeting at the embassy to discuss the issuance of birth and death certificates here to try to get a better understand of the process.

I ventured out yesterday to a West African chain called Orca. It was fun to browse around lots of kitchen and home decor things for a change. I didn’t realize it was here until a friend mentioned it – just a little retail therapy. While I was out, I drove around trying to find a new co-worker who got lost on his first outing alone, bless his heart! It was a bit harrowing because he ended up in a not-so-nice part of town. John came to our rescue by plotting his location in WhatsApp and talking him through the turns to get home – whew!

Socializing a bit

October 18th, 2020

Flavia enjoying the sun in her favorite spot

I continued catching up with friends in person and via video chat, starting last Monday – a federal holiday for us. I had a great visit with Pam in Toronto and a whopping two-hour chat with my former boss in Pakistan, Nomi, who’s now in Tijuana. Yesterday I had my biweekly call with Pam, Ann, and Jackie in Little Rock, and also talked to David and Alison. And, I had a call with an officer and his wife coming from Montenegro who’s interested in coming here for his next post – a referral from my cousin Chris, who’s the #2 in Montenegro.

Friday night we had a lovely dinner on the veranda at the Ambassador’s house with Alyson, Rick, Matt, and the owner of the Mamba Point Hotel, a colorful fellow who’s been here since 1984 and is full of interesting stories. Last night we went to Stephanie and Justin’s for Indian food and Catan. They took us up on the roof of their building for sundowners – what an incredible view!

This was the first week in the office for our wonderful new local staff ACS assistant (the wife of an officer) and the new immigrant visa chief. It’s so nice to have a full complement of officers back, and to start replenishing our local staff positions after all these months.

 

Much-needed boost

October 11th, 2020

Another pretty sunset!

I talked to several friends this week via video chat – lots of fun! Last Sunday, John and I visited with Wendy and Nick in DC, and got to see their baby who was born before we left for Africa. I also talked to Jamie and Jackie, my cousins David and Alison, and Mary – who became a grandmother this week! Welcome to the world, Samantha!

It’s been a good boost to see friends’ faces, as we grind along here in Liberia. This week marked ten months with no break, other than weekends, and even those we usually work at least one day. There’s no end in sight for the foreseeable future, since there’s really no where to go. COVID cases seem to be ticking back up again.

On the upside, the new immigrant visa chief is out of quarantine, so I took his family shopping yesterday. It will be a big relief to have him in the office. And with more people transferring in, the embassy is starting to feel less empty and some sense of community returning.

John and I watched “Military Wives” last night with Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, and really enjoyed it. It’s one of those feel-good movies based on true events that embarrassingly always makes me cry!

Still rainy

October 4th, 2020

Sunset

We’re still getting rains, which we continue to enjoy. I love waking up to hear it, and most often it has stopped before I need to go to work. Yesterday afternoon we had a big thunderstorm in the afternoon, which was a little odd. I was on a video chat with Ann and Pam, and they could even hear it.

We had a great visit with lots to talk about. Pam got a new puppy, so we got to meet her. Pam also has another big change afoot, but we’ll wait to talk about that when it happens. And of course we had to dissect the President being diagnosed with COVID-19 after months of denying its existence or seriousness. I also called Mary to see if she’s a grandmother yet – but nope, still waiting!

I went to the office and worked all day on a messy adoption case, and also did a grocery run for Matthew, the new consular officer who’s still in quarantine. We finished the diversity visas (as many as we could under the court order), and one of the entry-level consular officers who had been on authorized departure for almost six months got out of quarantine and returned to the office.

John and I have been watching a new Nordic crime show called “Wisting” that we are enjoying, and we’re in season 10 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which still makes us laugh.

Gradual re-entry

September 27th, 2020

Laundry Day

I feel like we’re very gradually moving into a slightly more normal time. COVID in Liberia has subsided for the time being, officers are returning to post from the long hiatus, and new officers are arriving. We went to a socially distanced welcome party last night for the new political chief and his wife (she’s coming to work with us in the consular section!) – the party even included some foreign diplomats from the EU, so it actually felt like a party.

Friday night we had a small get-together downstairs to welcome another new officer – we meant to play Catan but didn’t stop talking long enough to get a game going.

I had a good video chat last weekend with Ann, Pamela, and Jackie. John worked last weekend and this weekend at the office – it’s year end, so his financial folks are quite busy. I also worked, but was able to do it from home, which was nice.

We watched “Young Wallander” this week, a Swedish crime show that we enjoyed.

On a sad note, Pamela’s poodle Gus passed away this week unexpectedly after a short illness. It’s so hard to lose our companions after they’ve been our buddies for so long. Rest In Peace, Gus.