Archive for July, 2020

Sunday, 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

Sunday, 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

Sunday, 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?!).


Happy July 4th, 2020

Sunday, 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.