Happy July 4th, 2020

July 5th, 2020

No embassy Fourth of July parties this year; instead, we sent custom U.S. flag masks to our contacts. Cases continue to go up here, although our absolute numbers are low (under 1000 cases, under 100 deaths).  The embassy is still hunkering down, and I continue to worry about ever getting caught up! There’s ostensibly a 6PM curfew and mandatory masks in public here in Liberia, but the Liberians  aren’t exactly diligent about it. With the airport reopening with at least a couple of commercial flights, we worry about more community spread of the virus.

I worked on Friday, trying to get through some case work to sort out what visas I could possible issue to help reunite families. With the Presidential Proclamations restricting travel based on visa class and flight routing, it’s tricky.

John and I had a great phone call with our friend from Pakistan, Rick, last Sunday. He’s now working for DHS in Texas. Wednesday I had a fun chat with my friend Stacie, who just arrived next door in Abidjan. And yesterday I had my video chat with Ann, Pamela, and Jackie back in Arkansas, which is always fun.

It’s been super-rainy, which is fine with me – except when it coincides with two recent grocery store trips and deliveries to friends here in quarantine. John made some yummy Indian food yesterday. We  watched some fun movies this week: the Mr. Rogers one with Tom Hanks was surprisingly good, and not so much about Mr. Rogers, but about a reporter writing a piece about him. We loved “Ford vs Ferrari” – again, surprising because we’re not really race car fans but it was a good story with good acting. And last night we laughed at “Eurovision: the Story of Fire Sage” – it was thoroughly silly and fun, and I loved seeing some familiar scenery from Iceland.

Five years

June 28th, 2020

Between rains

We had a busy week. Commercial flights are set to resume tomorrow in Liberia, so we are getting lots of calls about visas, entry restrictions into the United States, and whether there will be quarantine upon arrival here in Liberia. There are a lot of moving pieces, to say the least, and we are doing our best to stay on top of it all.

We had one very loud, stormy night and one lovely, completely rainy day here this week. The clouds move quickly, so one minute the sun may be shining and the next minute it’s pouring rain. Temperatures stay between 75-85, often muggy.

A TDY doctor arrived Friday evening, so John and I took her some groceries and welcomed her to her temporary apartment. I took more things over after a run to the grocery store yesterday.

This was the anniversary of Mom’s death five years ago. She would be glad to know that Tiger is a fat and happy country cat living with my cousins in Hot Springs! I’m forever grateful that Sue and Ann provided a home for him!

Fat and happy

Summer Solstice

June 21st, 2020

It’s hard to believe John and I have been in Monrovia for over six months now – here we are in mid-June! How did that even happen???

I spent last Sunday enjoying a rainy day and reading an easy fiction book, while John whipped up several delicious creations in the kitchen. Eating here is such a challenge, so I was especially delighted in having some new, tasty dishes to eat. Those DC cooking lessons are paying off!

I had two nice video chats this week. One was a group video for our friend Barb who in retiring in DC – it was fun to see her face when she walked into a conference room and was greeted by a surprise virtual retirement party. I also chatted with Ann, Pam, and Jackie yesterday where we continue to try to solve the world’s problems!

Last night we went to a friend’s house for a small dinner and a couple of games of Catan – fun!

Rainy season

June 14th, 2020

So far, I love the rainy season. Yesterday was sort of dreary and cloudy, and this morning it’s raining. Remind me that I love it when I am soaked trying to get to work – but for today, it’s nice. It’s also given us pretty sunsets and blue water. In the dry season, the water and sky look white due to the sand blowing in from the Sahara.

We’ve been sitting outside on the balcony for a while in the evenings enjoying the cool breezes. One night this week we went to Mary’s and visited with her on her balcony. Another night we saw blue-breasted kingfishers flying around – pretty blue birds with red beaks. John’s also identified the Senegal coucals that are resident at the embassy; their calls sound like they are laughing.

Yesterday John and I hit a couple of different grocery stores (and when I say grocery stores, please picture something like a cross between a 7-11 and a very old Piggly Wiggly from the 1960s). One store had a large variety of Indian spices that he used to make a delicious red lentil curry last night. The stores are funny – such a random assortment of things. Most of the owners are Lebanese, so we see lots of products from that part of the world. Last weekend I saw an entire piglet in the freezer section (keep moving). Random items from Kirkland’s.  We can get some American brands but they are usually ridiculously priced – I saw some steel-cut oats for $8.75 yesterday. It’s fun to browse around because you just never know what you’ll find!

 

Flight number seven

June 7th, 2020

Pastel sunset

We worked our seventh evacuation flight on Tuesday, sending 113 U.S. citizens back to the United States. Like last time, we did it with just a handful of embassy workers, mostly due to mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19, but also because we have just become more efficient. It was a long day, but things went smoothly.

We are watching the surreal events surrounding the death of a black American, George Floyd, from afar. It’s difficult to picture the big demonstrations in DC and elsewhere, use of force against peaceful protestors, and the fortification of the People’s House. We had a small group of peaceful protestors here on Friday in front of the embassy expressing solidarity with black Americans. I hope we all come out of this as better people.

John and I sat outside on the balcony a few nights this week, enjoying cooler breezes and pretty sunsets. We finished season three of (confusing) “Westworld” and watched a few (easy-to-understand) “Madame Secretary” episodes. I spent some time in the kitchen yesterday (get a camera) where I smoked up the room so much  from trying to cook a hamburger patty that I didn’t even smell the eggplant burning even though I left it in the oven for about three hours!

Yesterday I had a short video chat with Cousin David (happy birthday!), and a long chat with Ann, Muffy, and Jackie where we attempted to solve the world’s problems and debate possible Biden VP picks – I’m not sure we were successful, but we had a lot of fun trying!