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Things Fall Apart

July 16, 2012

Yesterday was terrible.  I didn’t leave Doe Palace until after 11:00am and there was no one to give me a ride to the parking so Leo and Sakey helped me carry my load.  We reached and it was deserted.  “All the Nimba cars na gone.”

Shit.

Sakey said we should go to the Total station and wait for an NGO car to stop and ask if they’d carry me. I shrugged and followed because, well, what else to do?  The next thing I knew he and Leo were shouting with a man on the side of the road and asking if I wanted to get in a truck to Gbarnga.  I did not.  Two stops was risky with such a late start on a Sunday.  “What should I do?” I whispered to them.  They shrugged, “Maybe you should wait.”

Just then the driver revved the engine.  “Let’s go!” the wrangler yelled, “Are you getting in?”  I handed him $300 and climbed up front with a man stopping in Salala.  Sakey threw his head inside just as the driver tried to pull away, “Give me your number, my man.  I beg you take care of my sister.  Drop her to Ganta parking and help her get a car.”  The driver rattled off his number while Leo frantically typed it in his phone.

And we were off.

Twenty minutes later we stopped to pick up an old Lebanese man and his Liberian colleague.  Their car had broken down and they too wanted to go to Ganta—what luck!  There would be three of us to fill the car quick.  It was a fast, enjoyable ride and I was in Gbarnga by 2:00.  By another stroke of luck that car filled almost immediately.  …but I wasn’t feeling ok.

My head hurt.  My stomach hurt. I lay down on the bench and closed my eyes.  “Oooh!  The white woman dead-o!”  “Not yet,” I mumbled.

The Lebanese man tried to give me juice and Coke but with the worst leg of the trip coming next I couldn’t risk it.  I really wanted to crawl in the back and sleep on an ol’ ma but he insisted I ride in the front with him.  I really didn’t want to, but he’d paid my load fee and I didn’t want to be rude.

Huge mistake!

He didn’t know how to sit in a taxi and I’ve never been more uncomfortable.  He wanted to make small talk and it turns out he works for ECO Bank.  They couldn’t open the safe in Ganta (go figure) and he was on his way to fix it before they opened Monday morning.  Ohhh, ECO Bank.

We reached Ganta just as I was about to lose it in three or four ways and I got the driver to take me to Sanniquellie parking.  For the first time ever I let the crazy man help me move my load, actually seeking him out and paying him.  I was in even worse shape than in Gbarnga, but thankfully we left quickly again.  This time I insisted on sitting in the back and immediately fell asleep, waking up only when the torrential rain started just outside town.

I begged the driver to carry me to my house and, surprisingly, he made no argument even though the car was lurching and chugging.  I looked that bad.  The girls ran to me screaming and we hauled my load to the porch in the rain.  (No, Festus was not actually there waiting for me.)  I talked to them small then excused myself inside.  My guts completely exploded and I fell asleep in my chair, shivering under a blanket.  I hadn’t eaten all day but wasn’t sure what was a good idea so I just let my stomach rumble and put myself to bed.

The next morning I slept late and woke, still feverish, to Grandpa yelling, “RB!  Someone na poo-poo on your pieso!” through the front window.  Yep.  Good to be home.

My new roommate, Kate, comes for a visit tomorrow.  God be with her.

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