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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 13, 2011 The American Building

The day started out with all sorts of shouting and banging, which was not appreciated after my late night out at Groovies. The Lebanese contractors had returned, though, to do some work in our apartments and there was no getting around the sound of drilling as they installed curtains in the kitchen and master bedroom of each apartment. (Note: One of the Lebanese guys is now the first Facebook friend I’ve made here.)

Adisa and I took a cab to the biggest grocery store in town, Harbel. The locals know it as Abi Jaoudi (I think I misspelled the name in an earlier entry), though. There may be an interesting story behind the change in ownership; I hear rumors that the store changed hands in a game of poker! I met one of the store’s owners; his two children attend our school, but I didn’t think it appropriate to ask if he was a lucky poker player.

I had been to Abi Jaoudi’s already, but since then I had made a list of things that I needed that I wasn’t able to get at other groceries in town – a laundry basket, a squeegee, scrubbing brushes, etc. I also broke down and bought a few things to remind me of home – chicken nuggets, Bisquick and Duncan Hines cake mix! When I checked out, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a discount because I’m affiliated with the Embassy. Food here isn’t cheap, and the 10% discount was an unexpected surprise.

In the store, I began to feel like a local because I ran in to several people I knew, including Ed, Javier, and the school office manager (james) and his wife!

I accepted a ride back with Javier and Ed; Adisa still had more shopping to do around town. I’m happy I did because the night turned out very differently than I had imagined.

Javier took us back to his apartment. It’s actually not too far from the school compound, although I wouldn’t want to walk that distance. It’s situated in what is referred to as “the American building” because the Embassy has leased most of it. Javier’s place is lovely with matching furniture, African art, lush carpet, his own distiller, etc. The apartments have a pool, tennis court, gym, and a nice view of the ocean. Those Embassy folks live the life of Monrovian royalty, and I can’t think of someone more deserving that Javier to enjoy those amenities.

Lisa, the WHO worker, was at Javier’s apartment preparing dinner for us – a Moroccan chicken dish with chickpeas and apricots! Before dinner was served, we were briefly visited by a Brit named Peter. What an extraordinarily motivated young man! Peter is organizing the first marathon in Liberian history. Over 1,200 people, including runners from Kenya and Hawaii, are signed up to run on August 28, and it’s his vision to transition the role of organizer to a local Liberian so the event can continue in perpetuity.

Javier told me that Peter works for an initiative affiliated with Tony Blair, which I plan to research when I finally get the internet on the compound. I’d love to talk to Peter more about how to get involved in future events like these – maybe not necessarily athletic events – but I have a feeling that he’s a busy, busy man. He was leaving the next day to go home to London for two days to buy the marathon supplies like walkie-talkies, water-proof runner’s numbers, etc.

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