Another Day in Paradise

Today, I decided to use this site as a bit of a diary. Here’s a glimpse at life in Liberia on a school day in March. Buckle up 🙂

We wake up around 7am to the sound of one of the neighbor kids sweeping the yard between our two houses (well, I wake up at 7, Amy is up with the sun). The yard sweeping is typical, as it is often windy at night, so lots of leaves and litter blow through. I put a kettle of water on the propane stove so we can have coffee.

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Don’t mind the artificial light, we have no windows in the kitchen area. The tea kettle was a gift from our neighboring PCVs, and we dearly rely on it.

Amy spends the morning working on her school’s test schedule, and getting her finals ready for her Chemistry and Biology classes. I spend the morning making several trips to the pump to replenish the water barrel, and grab four additional buckets for laundry. We snack on beef jerky intermittently, courtesy of our latest care package. I do a load of laundry with an old episode of The Walking Dead on my laptop to entertain me.

 

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Remind me never to complain about going to the laundromat again.

 

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Amy helped me rinse – we can’t flout ALL the gender norms, after all.

Once the laundry is finished, we hang the clothes on the line outside to dry. The line is strung between a nail in the roof and a palm tree about twenty feet away.

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Once the clothes are hung, we walk into town and run a couple of errands. Amy goes to print copies of her finished testing schedule and the tests themselves (this is NOT EASY-O in a country without Kinko’s/where we don’t all have printers or even current in our houses). I go to speak to another teacher in town about a training at the Peace Corps training center that I’ve invited him to attend with me. After that, Amy goes to school for a review day with her students. I go to find a bag of bag water. Yes, a bag of bags of water.

After doing a little bit of cleaning and a little bit of schoolwork, I head out to the main road to get some food. Street food is a staple in our diets here, and the options are plenty in our town. I pick up four fried potato wedges (deep frying in the left side picture), two sausages (hot dogs) and a couple of fried cassava nuggets (right side) – which look strangely like cheese curds, no?

I bring the food to Amy at her school, because she is hungry and I’m very sensitive and thoughtful (and also pompous), then we walk home together. Then it’s time for me to get ready for school. I teach late in the day on this particular day of the week. I fill a bucket about half full with water – this is what I use to shower. Once my bucket bath is complete, I put on my business casual teaching attire. It’s the only time of the week that I wear long pants.

 

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Disclaimer: Amy was strongly opposed to my use of this particular photo.

 

I walk, in the blistering 4:30pm heat, to my school for my 11th grade review day. When I arrive, most of the campus is deserted. This is often the case the day before exams begin. I enter my classroom, not expecting anyone to be there, but I feel it’s my obligation to be in the room when class is scheduled to begin. To my surprise, two of my 11th graders are there. I spend twenty minutes or so going over the various topics for the test, then I dismiss them.

Next, I come back home and change clothes. Amy and I chat for an hour or so, then get hungry for dinner. Most of the cookshops around here close around 3 or 4pm, when they’ve run out of food. By now it’s about 7:30, so that option is out. However, this is not our first night in Liberia, and we have contingency plans for this. Tonight’s strategy involves grabbing to-go spaghetti from a tea shop nearby (this place, we’ve recently discovered, serves spaghetti only during the evening hours). It’s good spaghetti, but it’s missing something…perhaps protein? So, I walk down the main road a bit, and come to a Ma tending a coal pot. That’s right, more street food – evening edition.

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I visit this stand far too often.

Not unlike the various hot dog and gyro stands that appear in downtown Columbus every night, we have street meat here as well. And it is generally quite affordable – roasted chicken legs are 100LD, hot dogs are 25LD, that monster of a fish you see on the right is 400LD, and…well, I’ve never bothered to ask how much those chicken feet in the back left are. Maybe I’ll ask sometime. You know…to be thorough. Anyway, please note that the current exchange rate of USD to LD is about $1US=135LD.

Now, the meal is complete: Spaghetti, a chicken leg, a hot dog, and a delectable cabbage and onion slaw (with LOTS of mayonnaise) whipped up by the street meat Ma, and a side of bread of course.

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It’s far more delicious than it looks, I promise.

Once we’ve eaten, it’s about time for bed. We lock the doors, close the drapes, blow out the candle (no lights, remember), and get into bed, tucking the mosquito net between the mattress and the bed frame around us. We read for an hour or so; I’m currently reading Stephen King’s IT, and Amy reads far too fast for me to keep up with which book she’s on now.

Well, I certainly hope this has been interesting for you. We’ll try to write posts like this one periodically, to keep you all informed of what the day to day activities here look like. Until next time, Sláinte!

 

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Don’t worry, that’s not well water.  We used food coloring to make green beer 🙂

 

-Nick

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Rae Anne & Brad says:

    We love ready nag about your life in Liberia. We are so very proud of both of you! Love, hugs and prayers!

    Like

  2. Jeffrey Weinland says:

    Great blog. That is a full day. Thanks for all the great imagery. Very coo! Love you two.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  3. Sharon Velliquette says:

    Love to hear about how your days transpire and I will never grumble again about having to throw clothes in the washer or dryer! I give you both so much credit for what you do…

    Like

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