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Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11, 2011 That little white girl is nice.

I have to admit that the past two days have sort of sauntered by. I wasn’t busy, but I was completely drained. I’m told that yesterday was the last day of my jet lag. Ha! What these people don’t realize is that I can sleep almost any time and anywhere. I wouldn’t mind, though, being able fall asleep before 2:30am.

Here’s a few things of note that happened over the past two days:

1. I saw the presidential motorcade. Everyone had to clear the road for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her attendants to pass. I find it miraculous that these bikes and cars, which normally scurry to and fro like madmen, were able to clear the president’s path so quickly and readily.

2. I got more furniture. The embassy was holding an auction of some if its old stuff, and the school staff living on campus was able to go and pick things out. I added a dresser and bedside table for my guest room, a dining room table, set of drawers for storage in the bathroom, and a living room coffee table and side table. Now, my place really does look like a home. Albeit, the mix-match style reminds me of what a first-time apartment in the US would look like.

3. Another, bigger gecko made an appearance in my apartment. Must be Irving, Sr.

4. The basin around my shower is leaking. In my efforts to mop up the mess, I took a nasty fall. Wonder what that bruise will look like tomorrow? The contractor who is responsible for having renovated old classrooms into our new apartments. Much is made of the fact that he’s Lebanese. By this I mean that there is a certain stigma attached to Lebanese as being good workers who suck up to the foreigners and treat the locals poorly.

5. I had the most messed up dreams last night – about three or four different episodes. One segment featured me pooping out full-grown crawfish. In the dream, my mom told me not to worry – that that happened because I had diverticulitis. Anybody want to analyze that for me?

6. I’ve now eaten at Christine’s multiple times. So far, I’ve tried cabbage, bitter ball, potato greens, and cassava leaves. All the dishes are the same consistency – just different colors – and served with a separate dish of rice. The flavors are great, but my inexperienced mouth burns! Most often the dish features fresh or dried fish. Albert pointed out a piece of cow skin in one dish. Needless to say, I ate around it. Each time I visit Christine’s I make sure to say hello and good-bye to the ladies in the “kitchen.” They asked my co-worker Albert were I was when he stopped by without me. “Oh, that little white girl is so nice,” they ooh’ed and ah’ed.

This morning, we had our first faculty meeting. Eight of us were in attendance; two were missing. Quite honestly, I still don’t know what grades I’ll be teaching. I was hired to teach 2nd and 3rd, but another lady (who will arrive in Monrovia on Sunday) was assigned 1st and 2nd. Whatever happens, I know I’ve got my work cut out for me since I haven’t taught 2nd or 3rd grade before. I am a planner, and it’s driving me out of my mind to not know what I’m teaching or to have ample time to get myself mentally prepared.

I’m still having to frequent the Royal Hotel in order to use the internet. The director at school has arranged for internet at the school compound, but the company is giving grief about sending a technician out, wanting to charge us even though they haven’t completed their end of the initial set-up. Ed has threatened to take our business elsewhere, so I don’t know when we’ll get WiFi up and running.

Oh, I mustn’t forget to mention the oddest thing that happened to me today. I heard a light tap at my apartment door. I opened it to find Aletha, one of our two custodians. She asked if she could talk to me so I invited her in. At first, I was touched; she explained that some people make your heart “tick” and for them, your heart opens. She told me that she had that feeling when she first met me. Aletha had claimed me as one of her daughters. In real life, she has six kids – 2 sons and 4 daughters.

As the visit continued, I realized where all the flattery was going. Aletha’s daughter who should be in 8th grade cannot go to school this year due to a lack of funds. She explained that she wants me to take her daughter, my sister, Mitta into my care. To work beside me on the weekends or after work. I can show her what I want done around the house and offer her what I think is appropriate compensation.

Part of me understands. If I were Aletha, I’d want my daughter to go to school and to surround her with educated young women she can look up to and learn from. Before I traveled to Liberia, I had already been told that it was customary to employ local people to wash your clothes and help clean, but had put this to the back of my mind when I realized we had washing machines. The other part of me wonders if I’m seen as a mark – someone who work easily fork over the money.

I haven’t made any decisions regarding the matter and told Aletha upfront that I needed to think. I want to talk with my coworkers and feel out the situation. God knows, though, that I hate to sweep and mop and this might be a mutually beneficial relationship to have.

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