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A series of unfortunate events

October 24, 2011


Today we’ve been in Sanni for two months.  It feels like so much longer… but also so much shorter.  It could be last week that Lindsey’s UN friend pulled up in the front yard with mattresses and a gas tank.  It could be five years ago that I plugged in my ipod at Wilson’s and addressed a sweaty crowd on spin bikes.

Neither of those things are true.  What is true is that I’ve been in Liberia for five months and what seemed impossible at first is true at last.  I am happy.  I am comfortable.  I am home.

Last week was a series of unfortunate events, but, well, that’s life.  Sometimes it’s really good.  Sometimes it’s a little rough.  Keep swimming and ride the wave.

Monday someone accidentally cracked my computer screen… the night before our power got turned back on.  Students showed up for me in packs, often before 7:00am.  “Ms. RB, I beg.  I am failing your class.”  Yep.  I know.  I also know I don’t recognize you: bad sign.  I just kept getting farther and farther behind on sleep.  I was writing lessons an hour before I had to be at school.  Then the bat fell on me in the bathroom.  Then I fell hard coming out of Margaret’s shop (our new tailor) Thursday afternoon.

I was taking my retro dress back to have the sleeves removed and a group of knee-highs yelled “Quiepolu!”  I turned to give my obligatory wave and “Ka tuoo” and hit the ground hard, sliding down the gravel hill.  My dress came up and it was bare skin on sun baked dirt.  I had my share of spills in America, but even my bike wreck wasn’t like this.  There is something about the ground here that’s like sand paper covered with broken glass on my white skin.  I’ve fallen three times, always on hills, always waving at kids yelling some version of “white woman!”

A woman passing by stopped.  “Sorry yeah.  Is your watch ok?”  A few weeks ago I bought a giant orange one in the market.  “It allllright.  I sakay,” I tried to dismiss her as I watched blood start pooling in my sandal.  Fuck.  I was at least a 20 minutes walk from home.  I didn’t want to hike up my dress by the motorbike parking to assess the damage, but I knew it was bad.  I hobbled to the club, where Krista and I were going to meet, and texted her to hurry.  She told me to go ahead, but she usually carries the keys so I took a seat and Serena brought me and cold soft drink.

A group of pros were already drunk at the next table.  “Quipolu, what happen to you?” Rebecca slurred, sloshing her glass.  I mumbled something and was relieved when Serena pulled up a chair next to me and looked at me with cautious, quiet concern.  We sat in silence, exchanging knowing glances as one girl delivered a loud soliloquy about how she does business.  Krista and Romeo showed up just as I didn’t think I could take anymore.  I got drinks to go and we trekked home.

It was a total mess, but at least my dress was entirely unscathed (it’s the small things some days).  All the kids think it was a motorbike wreck.  “RB, did you cry?!”

The pump spoiled a few days ago and we have to haul our water from down the road.  We were almost out of water and Krista was getting sick.  I’d been fighting runny belly since Monday when a long, unpredictable day forced us to eat street meat. That same night the city power cam back on for the first time in over a week.  We rushed home to turn our lights on for the first time.  Nothing.  They never came to connect us.  Yes, TIA, but you have to be kidding me.

We still haven’t turned in our grades (over a week late) because we’re hoping to crunch everything in Excel.  Oh, Jesus.  All the grades are currently scratched on attendance sheets and heaped in a corner of the living room.  Far from ideal, but class rosters still are not finalized…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 29, 2011 9:42 pm

    Oh B that’s quite a spill!!

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