Friday, September 17, 2010

After Rain, Sun.

Tuesday, September 14
I think its about time for me to say something about Peace Corps Liberia's inability to do... well, much of anything. Ok, maybe I'm being a little harsh, but its how I feel right now. It's a new program and I understand they are still learning about what works and what doesn't, but if they aren't ready for a country full of volunteers then they shoudnt have us here yet. There I said it. And I feel much better now.
I got a call today "reminding" me of meeting in Monrovia next week. Meeting in Monrovia next week? Missed that memo. "Oh, well someone was supposed to call you and tell you about this really important meeting with UNICEF, WFP and Peace Corps to discuss how we are working together and how things can change." Hmmm. Yup. Pretty sure I missed that memo. Or maybe... the memo was never sent?
Either way, I just got back from Sinoe and have a week full of monitoring visits scheduled for next week and now Im told I have to be in Monrovia. Oh, and what was that? You want me to take a bush taxi in the heaviest part of the rainy season? Let me tell you how the bush taxis get to Monrovia during the rainy season. They slide in the mud as far as they can and when they reach the overflowing river, they make everyone get out and swim across. Then they stuff something into their muffler and drive through it... water up to the steering wheel, praying they don't get washed away. This is a first hand account from a trusted source who was in a Land Cruiser, also with water up to the steering wheel, watching it all happen. Sure, see you in Monrovia on Tuesday.
So, this meeting. Whats it all about? When I arrived in country I was told that I would be working with UNICEF and WFP, but as time went by it seemed to be more WFP than anything else: I live in their guesthouse, work in their office, sport their official UN ID card and ride in their vehicles. It turns out UNICEF was in the middle of some management changes when we got here and PC was waiting for things to settle down with them. Meanwhile, as things have been settling down in Monrovia, things have been getting busy in Zwedru. I have been learning about WFP, participating in activities, meeting with other NGOs in the area, and developing learning tools to use in our trainings. Now, with the little information I have received, it sounds like this may all change. I could go on here about what changes I have heard will be taking place (moving out of guesthouse, taking taxis rather than WFP vehicles to the clinics I need to work at, etc.) but rather than let my mind get the best of me, I will wait until I get to the meeting to find out for sure. For all I know the meeting could be about how things will change for the next group of volunteers, and they will let me carry on here as I have been, live as I have been and work as I have been. Why fix what ain't broke? My work with WFP has been so beneficial to me and from what I can tell, to them as well.
And when it rains, it pours. After this phone call I was told that renovations are being done at the guest house and I need to move out of my room and into the basement. Ha. Is this a joke? Have you even SEEN the basement? Fine, Ill move today.
I spent about 20 minutes catastrophizing, and then decided to go to lunch. And of all days they decided to change the price of lunch from LD$50 to LD$100. WHAT? Is it because I am white and you think that because I make a whopping USD$350 a month you can just double the price of lunch on me at anytime? Come on, its rice and some potato greens cooked in oil and you want to double the price TODAY?! Of all days?! Fine take your $100LD (I am ashamed to say that $100LD works out to be about USD$1.45 and I was upset about it). I wasn't full after the rice so I decided to stop and get some fried plantains to bring back to the office. WHAT? LD$5 for 3 pieces? It used to be LD$5 for 4 pieces! Today of all days?! Fine take your LD$5.

But, after rain, sun. When I got back to the office to eat my 3 pieces of plantain, my new Bhutansese friend was waiting for me. Ever since he fixed my internet, he has been coming everyday to sit and chat about visiting Bhutan, the idiosynchrasies of Liberia and the driving (dis)abilities of Liberians. After we finished chatting, my new friends from the UNMIL Indian battalion came by and invited me for chicken curry and chipati at their compound this weekend. And most importantly, I was able to convince Ruthia to meet me for "Happy Hour" after work right before CellCom (my phone service provider) went down. We met after work and what started as 3 PC vols sitting around commiserating, ended up being 12 ex-pats sitting around drinking cold beer and eating hot cheesy pizza. After rain, sun.
Yes, here in Zwedru, we drown our sorrows in cold beer and hot food. I find nothing wrong with that, don't think I have any sort of problem, or even think there could possibly be a better way. I needed a freakin beer and a pizza. And of course a group of great friends to laugh with.
When I got home I found my ever so wonderful secruity gaurd, Way Lee Deh, waiting for me by the gate. He gave me the fist bump, chest pump and assured me that he has been keeping my place "very safe." Thank you Way Lee Deh. After rain, sun.
So, yeah, I still have to get to Monrovia on Tuesday (although I am determined to find another way), but I've got pizza in my belly, a generator pumping out current, and a security guard keeping me safe. That's more than a lot of people can say.

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