Friend week

August 16th, 2020

Thank goodness for video chats! I remember living in Costa Rica in the late 1990s when email was just getting started and the only real way to communicate was by phone. We had some kind of bootleg system where we’d dial a 1-800 number and then get a callback to be connected, but it was still relatively expensive. Love the new technology.

Last weekend I had a birthday chat with Cousin James, and John and I did a chat with Jim and Joan – so nice to catch up! Later that day, I talked to Jaime and Jackie, old college friends. Yesterday I had my bi-weekly meet-up with Ann, Pam, and Jackie where we approved of Biden’s VP pick, Kamala Harris, and discussed instant pots (lol).  John and I were also on a Zoom call to say goodbye to departing colleagues during the week.

We had two small going-away ceremonies for colleagues this week, one for a long-time local staff member who received a special immigrant visa for his years of service to the embassy. He played a critical role during the Liberian civil wars, especially in 2003 when the embassy received mortar fire and thousands of refugees made camp on the land the current embassy sits on today. Given the trouble with flights and all of the different Presidential Proclamations limiting entry to America, we all breathed a sigh of relief when we got word he and his family made it through immigration in New Jersey this week – a mere two days before the visas expired!

Last night we had a really nice (socially distant) dinner on the veranda of the Ambassador’s house hosted by Rick and Alyson, with Matt and Kateri also in attendance. It was a bit windy and cloudy after an afternoon rain, but very pleasant with the sound of the waves crashing just below us. They served a really yummy steak salad which was a treat for me.

Yesterday I finally ventured out to the salon for a hair and nail fix for the first time since March – needless to say, it was long overdue. I was the only customer there and the staff wore masks, etc. so I felt pretty safe. It was a good reward for what was at times a frustrating week at work.

 

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.