I am sitting on a wooden couch in a room lit by a small flashlight while writing this. Nick and Pa are talking about the football game blaring from the Video Club across the street. We are talking to Ma about politics, and cookouts, and that American football player that blew off his fingers with a firework. My sisters are laying on the floor listening. I am home.
It’s been a week since we moved to our new home- a week filled with new experiences, some awkwardness, plenty sweating from walking up the steep hill to the house, and lots of love.
I am learning everyday. Learning more about my new family. Learning how to hand wash clothes and navigate the market. Learning not to lean against a wall or grab anything without checking for spiders first… (that one I learned that hard way.) It’s certainly an odd experience being at the functional and communicative level of a toddler at times; however, it’s one we are trying to deal with through humor and patience.
Our days are becoming routine. We wake up every morning at 4am, thanks to an annoyingly persistent rooster that sits in the tree outside the bedroom window. Ma makes us breakfast: fruit, bread, eggs, or sometimes spaghetti. Our brother and sisters help us fetch water from the pump down the hill (note that pump down the hill = carrying water up the hill). I was able to semi-successfully carry a bucket on my head yesterday, much to the amusement of everyone we passed. We head off to training, and our Ma hugs us both on the way out.
It takes us a while to walk to, and home from, training. I set a personal goal to stop and talk small with at least one person a day, and so far we have had no issues meeting that quota. Plenty people want to say hallo-o, learn our names, and talk about the 56 white people conspicuously walking around town. Sometimes I miss the anonymity and privacy of walking around in America, but most times I’m happy to wave and introduce myself.
In the evenings, the house hums with the noise of children, and chickens, chores, and the kung fu movie playing in the VC. We are eating plenty Liberian food, and I can’t wait to learn some of Ma’s recipes. I think my favorite so far has been pumpkin soup. Mostly we sit on the porch, or inside, and just talk. At night, the chickens come in the house. One of the hens just hatched about 12 babies, and they are so precious. The children put the chickens into bags, which they don’t seem to like very much. The bags keep them warm, and from getting stolen. I am hoping we can get some of our own once we get to site, but I’m not sure if I’ll be up to the challenge of stuffing the chicken bags…
It is not always picturesque, and we are beginning to understand why they briefed us that Liberia is one of the most challenging Peace Corps posts. Just living (surviving) here is exceptionally difficult. But the people seem to manage it with grace, helping one another through the hard work, and I cannot imagine being anywhere else.
Tomorrow our family will give us our African names. Teaser: Nick and I have matching outfits for the ceremony.