I hauled my first water…and my second. Apparently the stuff flowing from the taps isn’t potable so instead, we (or in this case, I) join the ranks of my community members and pump a metal handle furiously for five minutes until the water finally emerges slow and shy and crystal clear –though still not clean enough for drinking. And after hoisting the bucket to my head I began the developing world ritual: haul water from one source and pour it into another and then transfer that water into another. In South Africa my father brought huge barrels of water from the farm in the back of his truck and we transferred it to smaller and progressively smaller holding tanks. Here we haul it from the pump to a bucket to the water filters we have perched on various surfaces.

Even so…I love the dichotomy of my experience so far. On one hand I have a hand pump in the yard with chickens scurrying about and on the other I have at least intermittent access to wifi and regular access to electricity. Contradictions abound.

Still inching toward a full life here I slept in this morning and did nothing that resembled work. The challenge for Peace Corps service is often figuring out not only what to begin but how to begin it. Peace Corps Response is even trickier because there is less time to figure it all out. And so instead I walked around with one of the established volunteers, figured out where they go for lunch and hung out a little with their self-adopted host family: mommy, mommy jr, and the four little girls. Courage, about 5 years old, seemed fond of me while Bidi, 9 months, stared on stoically, eyes following the foreigners but neither a smile or a even a grin passing her lips.

Later I was introduced to the internet source at the hospital and from there met one of the missionaries that lives in the area and a Cuttington University (one of two elite schools in Liberia) agriculture student. J, as I’ll refer to him, appears to be a potential friend. He fled to this area during the war. His schooling interrupted, he picked up computers and now works part time as a tech at the hospital while he attends classes.

J provided the first real exchange that I’ve had with a Liberian not associated with PC in some way. He talked to me about local markets where we can purchase vegetables, the viability of planting a garden here –which is apparently high even for such a short stay- and potential travel he’d like to do.

One of the volunteers pointed out that unlike most other PC service where you are alone and become attached to people in your community; our setup lends itself to a more insular lifestyle. I hope J is the first of many Liberian friends that prevent that from happening.

Of course, riding high on both internet and a new found friend, I neglected to see that the gate surrounding the hospital is slightly raised and managed to kick it forcefully and trip fully and publicly in the middle of a small gathering of patients and hospital staff. Graceful even here, I’m thankful that I didn’t break anything and simply laughed at myself on the way home.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply