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Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 22, 2011 Ladies’ Luncheon and Escargot

The faculty met from 10:00am – 1:00pm to finalize the Welcome Ceremony and discuss grading, homework policy, etc. There were some mildly tense moments, I must admit. As teachers, we have strong opinions about what should and shouldn’t be in the school’s “policy.” Thankfully, we all made it out alive.

Afterwards, James took our pictures so that he could process the paperwork for our new bank accounts. Then, Amos opened his office to us so we could pick up any office supplies he already had in stock. Unfortunately, most of what I put on my “wish list” was not available in the storeroom.

Linda, Adisa, and I bummed a ride from Amos, who was heading into town on a school errand. We ate at Dona Maria’s, which has large sandwiches for $5 and a fast internet speed. I actually had the chicken fettuccine and would recommend it.

While having out “ladies’ luncheon,” Linda told us about how she met Aminu and married after only months of dating.

Adisa’s phone rang to remind her that it was Mefloquine Monday, an affectionate nickname to remind her that it was time to take her weekly meds. Linda relayed her misadventures with Mefloquine, an anti-malarial medicine that sometimes induces night terrors and hallucinations. For Linda, the last straw was when she left her front door wide open after letting the leprechauns in her house go free. Needless to say, I began to feel more confident about my decision to take Doxycycline.

When lunch was over, the girls weren’t ready to quit each other’s company, so we decided to venture into the market close to school to buys some fruits and veggies. Before heading to the market, we actually explored some of the empty rooms in the compound. Walking through the high grasses behind the rooms caused Linda and I to pick up some briars. Adisa said some of the Liberians call them homework because they take forever to dig out of your clothes. Linda decided to change, so Adisa and I decided to sit outside and wait.

I sat near the AISM sign within our parking lot. That was a bad move!

As I got up and began to walk around, Adisa began slapping my butt. She was trying to rid me of the red fire ants that had begun to crawl over me! Thankfully, I only sustained a few ant bites on my right foot. I think I owe Adisa a bottle of wine because I can’t begin to fathom the pain I’d have felt if those buggers had gotten into my pants!

Linda returned and we walked the 50-100 meters to the market. Accurately explaining the market place really requires pictures. I don’t know if I can adequately relay the sights and sounds of that place.

First, I must say that the markets are located behind the street vendors I had been seeing on the sides of the streets. There was no indication that these stalls went back so far! Street vendors sell things from roughly hewn tables or wheel barrows (I saw one guy selling large snails from his wheelbarrow!) and make stands out of tin roofing material turned on it’s side and covered with cloth for its roof.

Second, the market is – well – imagine the dirtiest flea market you’ve ever been to and multiply it by 100. The roof is tin and held together with string and held down with rocks. The tables are blackened by the same filth that’s on the floor. The dirt here isn’t hard-packed. Rather, it’s fine and gritty and impossible to keep out of your shoes.

The tables varied from spices, peppers, fufu, vegetables, and fruits. It was when I caught sight of a massive amount of flies that I realized there were also tables with meat – pigs feet, chicken feet, livers, fish, etc. The smell was awful. I tried to hide the fact that I was gagging, and had to put a considerable distance between me and the meat tables until the urge to faint finally subsided.

Third, the people in the market are interesting to watch. Some are like vultures, sniffing out this white girl as financial prey. I always have to look to Adisa and Linda to see if the prices I’m quoted are reasonable. There are children playing in the mire and muck on the floors. I’ve noticed that many of the toddlers are taken care of by children on slightly older. Older women have no problems falling asleep on top of their tables, while younger women might be seen slaving away using mortars and pestles to grind what looks like butter or cheese. There aren’t many men here, but one kind guy did let me take his picture as he used a meat grinder to process some cassava leaves. (I had to promise to print a picture and bring it to him.)

After I made my way home with my meager purchases of bananas, oranges and sweet potatoes, I set about the task of scrubbing my flipflops. There’s so much trash mixed in with the dirt that I can’t stand the idea of carrying that in and around my apartment. So, part of my nightly routine is scrubbing my feet and my shoes with soap and water. I bought a special brush for the purpose.

Later that night, the electricity went out. Ed was out with Adisa and Albert getting some ice cream, so no one was here to turn on the generator. So, to date, I’ve had times in Africa without water or electricity. No, I’m not in the US of A any more.

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