Trying to catch-up

So yup, still way behind on the blog.

IMG_1550One of the notable things that has happened recently was the full moon party at Nana’s Lodge in Robertsport. Back in October Leah and I were talking about the lack of beach parties in a country with amazing beaches. So we decided to have one. We continued to talk and decided that what we needed was not just a party but an all inclusive weekend. So we talked to Musa, co-owner of Nana’s Lodge. We asked if we brought him 50 people paying $100 for all you can eat and drink for a night and two days if he could take care of the rest. Knowing a good deal when he sees one, Musa said yes. After further discussion we decided that 10% of the proceeds should go to a local charity in Robertsport. We didn’t want it to look like a bunch of white people were just partying it up for no good reason. So we gave $500 to the St. John’s Episcopal High School reconstruction fund.

beautiful church in RPWe got to take a tour of the school and it was amazing. It was one of those few places you go to in Liberia and realize how nice the country was before the war came and ruined it for everyone. I hope the money will go far towards restoring the place to its original beauty. In this picture you can see the old church building on the school campus.

IMG_1558My favorite part of the party was the midnight moon light surf. I’m told that we picked the brightest full moon in the last 25 years for our party. So surfing at night was a lot of fun. The best part was that the water was so clear. We could see our shadows on the sand below as we floated over in the water with just the moon light. It was so amazing. One of those moments everything is so amazing it makes you wana believe in God.

Christmas in Monrovia - expats christmas dayChristmas has also happened since I last wrote. A mass exodus of expats occurred, but me, and a brave few, remained behind to hold down the fort. Christmas in Liberia was pretty nice. It was hot and sunny like every day here, so it didn’t feel at all like Christmas. Things quieted down a little and it was nice to relax at Christmas instead of running around from event to event. I spent Christmas day at my friend Christy’s apartment with my roommate Vishal, Leah, the people form Orphan Relief and Rescue, and Jacob and Keith, who do health work here. We had brunch, which seems to be very much in style amongst expats in Monrovia. Vishal and I headed out for a Christmas day surf.

Christmas in Monrovia - Capital HillIn celebration of Christmas Monrovia decked the halls, or at least decked a few sidewalks and street lights. The street lights were quite impressive. As you can see from this picture on the left, lights were strung from light pole to light pole in front of the executive mansion. Lights also graced Broad Street and the bridge to Bushrod Island. It was beautiful. While it does seem kinda like a waste of money while people are hungry, laying in dilapidated hospitals, and standing in class rooms with no chairs, but it is a very nice sign of progress and hope. Not long ago the Liberian Electric Company (LEC) wasn’t operational, now they can power Christmas lights. Not bad.

Christmas in Monrovia - Santa ClauseRight down the street from the mansion, at UN Drive and Camp Johnson road, was this wonderful display of Christmas tackiness. How a mechanical dancing Santa made it to Liberia is beyond me. I’m just glad that this isn’t how the government chose to show its Christmas spirit.

Handing out rice to security guards for xmas(2)In this picture flat mate Vishal and I are giving our security guards their Christmas present. We bought a 50kg bag of rice for the day shift, and one for the night shift. I think that made us their favorite tenants. We also gave our maid the week off. I don’t think she really understood it at the time, I don’t think she’s used to taking a Christmas holiday. I also realized later that she probably thought we were trying to get rid of her with out giving her a gift. So we called her up and had her come back over and take the first crack at the bag of rice. She seemed happy after that.

A lot of Liberians asked me for “my Christmas.” Another popular saying was “my Christmas on you-O.” While I do like to help those I can, the entitlement that people asked with really bothered me, especially when people who I’ve already helped a lot were asking me for their cut. It was obvious that it wasn’t about friendship or being nice to the ones you love, it was about them getting something out of me. Granted, they live on the edge of absolute poverity and starvation, so they have every reason to take advantage of any situation that presents itself, but just the way they go about it, is so… not enticing. I’d really like it if one low income Liberian would get it, and figure out that they’ll do so much better if they really are my friend.

But all in all it’s been pretty darn good, and I’m blessed enough this holiday season to give out a few “my Christmases” to people.

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