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A New Kind of Normal

June 14, 2011

Life here is normal in such a surreal way. We got in Sunday evening and drove to St. Theresa’s convent in the dark. A dinner of rice with spicy sauce and sweet cornbread waited for us on the table as everyone formed a line to hoist baggage up the narrow stairs. Our American and Liberian colleagues welcomed us and we headed to our rooms. We have electricity and running water, but our LR-1 friends assured us this will feel like a palace in a few months (weeks? days?).

We’re divided up two to a room, each of us getting a twin bed draped with a mosquito net. Laura has pink and flowery sheets, but mine are a total mismatch—it feels so much like home! The fitted sheet is covered with large pink peonies and my flat sheet is blue with large pictures of (wait for it!) the Incredible Hulk. This, of course, perfectly matches the ballet bunnies and rainbows on my pillowcase. We’ve been here two nights so far and each one I’ve slept like a rock, even with the torrential rain.

Training is happening in a large air conditioned room and so far we’ve watched Power Point presentations about Liberia, malaria, and safety and security. Yesterday we also started our Liberian English lessons and four of us met outside in the courtyard as Luther walked us through the proper pronunciation of “goo mornin” and explained what “tryin’ smal, smal” means. By noon each of us had a cell phone and people immediately started texting and calling home. I waited until late at night when I was sure my parents would be home. As much as I wanted to talk to them, I almost wasn’t ready to. I don’t feel grounded here yet and I worried a tug from home might undo some of my progress. They were happy to hear from me so soon, though, and were extremely supportive. The reception was so good my mom couldn’t believe I was calling from Africa! (Are you sure you aren’t still in New York!?)

I’m also starting to figure out the exercise part of my Liberian equation. I’ve unrolled my yoga mat at least once a day since arriving and this morning Preston and Emily took a small group of us on a run past the beach and the embassy. Hopefully it’ll keep my body calm and strong. So far I feel great, not even stiff or sore from traveling. My only complaint is that my feet and ankles have swollen dramatically. I’ve been doing Netta’s legs-up-the-wall pose before bed, though, and they seem to be deflating, albeit slowly. No good TRX anchor points found yet, but I might try slinging it over my room door later to try to get something.

Anyway, life in Africa is good. The shower comes out at a trickle and the toilet tank has to be refilled with a bucket, but I think I’m already starting to love Liberia. Good work. Good people. So much hope. I can’t wait to meet my host family in a few days.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 9, 2011 4:04 pm

    Great to hear of your safe arrival. What an adventure! Look forward to reading your other entries, and thanks for taking the time to share your journey. Love, LP

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