Full moon

August 9th, 2020

Morning light

Last weekend was a full moon, and its effects lingered into this week. On the upside, the moonlight over the ocean was beautiful to wake up to! The downside was the effect on people’s behavior, which we often have to deal with in the consular section! We continue to work on pop-up emergencies this weekend, but it keeps us busy and out of trouble.

I had a nice video chat with Mary during the week, and we had two friends over for a socially distanced pizza/game night last night. The local grocery store had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and grapefruit  this week – and they restocked Royal club soda, which had gone missing for months. My cup runneth over!

Liberian Independence Day

August 2nd, 2020

Hibiscus on OEC

We enjoyed a nice three-day weekend last weekend. We had JR and Sabina over for masked, socially-distanced coffee, followed by a game of Wingspan. They brought some of JR’s delicious walnut sourdough bread (maybe with raisins or dates?) Delish. They’re so nice and fun – I hate that they are leaving. After they left, we took a walk over on the old embassy compound on a walkway that runs above/along the ocean – it was a beautiful afternoon with some cloud cover and nice breezes.

We had a going-away team call on Thursday. In addition to Sabina leaving, our wonderful Lea’s last day was Friday. Although she’s been working remotely for the last few months, I rely on her heavily, so it is a blow to lose her as she goes to her onward post in Mexico. John loses out, too, since her husband is his financial management officer. We will miss them.

At John’s suggestion, I read “Mighty be our Powers” this week by Liberian peacebuilder, Leymah Gbowee, about her life during the Liberian civil wars and her efforts to start a women’s movement to work for peace. It’s an incredible story of a horrific time.

 

July 26th, 2020

The president of Liberia lifted the State of Emergency, and it was evident as John and I did our grocery shopping yesterday. Despite the mandate to wear masks, we only saw a handful amongst the crowds of people out on the street – it’s definitely business as usual again. The only exception was the grocery stores, where they continue to enforce masks, temperature checks, and hand-washing. Hopefully the relaxation of guidelines won’t lead to an upsurge in COVID-19 cases – we’ll hold our breath and see.

I had a Zoom call last week with a Hendrix student interested in the Foreign Service, followed by a fun call with my friend Pam in Canada.

We celebrated Pablo’s birthday this week – John made balloons so I could decorate his cubicle, and Fahan sent cupcakes for us to eat during our conference call (yummy).

We finished Tara French’s “Dublin Murders” last night – we enjoyed it!

Nuttin’ much to report

July 19th, 2020

It was a pretty slow week with not a lot to report, which is a good thing these days! I had several conference calls throughout the week, including dialing in to a call to listen to our colleagues in the DC visa office try to help posts around the world sort through the Presidential Proclamations restricting entry to the US with its myriad exceptions and rules. It’s a big bowl of spaghetti that we are trying to make sense of — some days more successfully than others.  We also had a call with our consular colleagues in Beirut to help to discuss our Lebanese diaspora here in West Africa — largely business owners (including most of the grocery stores).

Yesterday I had my bi-weekly call with Ann, Pamela, and Jackie which is always fun. We were able to wish Jackie a happy birthday and watch her open gifts.

Seven down

July 12th, 2020

John and I have been here in Monrovia for seven months now, which is difficult to believe. Since people started taking the authorized departure from post in late March, the embassy has been a ghost town with most local staff told to stay home and routine consular services closed.  I still have emergency appointments, and are trying to process narrowly defined mission-critical services. We have started preparing briefing materials for our new ambassador-nominee, a career Foreign Service Officer nominated by the President last month.  Surprisingly, there is still a lot of work to do and we do the best we can, as safely as we can.

Yesterday I took our TDY embassy doctor around to a few grocery stores, and stopped along the road a couple of places to buy fruits. The grocery stores are good about hand-washing, mask-wearing, and temperature checking before entry, but the rest of the Liberian public largely ignores these protocols. There’s still a 6PM curfew supposedly in effect, but I don’t know how well it’s adhered to. Mostly it looks like daily life has resumed. There have been a few commercial flight in/out of the country, too.

Otherwise it was a rainy and routine week (whatever that means these days!). John and I are watching a Finnish crime drama and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” during the week. We watched the depressing but utterly lovely “A Marriage Story” yesterday – I thought it was just wonderful with amazing performances (and who doesn’t love Laura Dern?!).