The laughter emerging from the back porch was continuous. And loud. Raucous even. Strands of conversation in different voices bounced off the screens and escaped on the cool breeze snaking its way between the mesh – keeping us cool.

The “us” was me, BushDiva, Wry-ly, Emme, and Benin*. Emme is an IFESH scholar working in Bong County and Benin is an RPCV now working with an INGO in the area. They, like me and BushDiva, are both black American women. We marveled at the improbability of it. Blacks Americans are not widely represented in development work so to have us all here within walking distance of each other is incredible.

BushDiva and I had met Emme when we first arrived but Benin was a new addition. She walked toward the house earlier that day and asked for Wry-ly who wasn’t there. I was juggling a long distance call and trying to make sure I captured any message. Benin was rather quiet, but as she turned to go she mentioned in passing that she was a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) which of course peaked my interest. Distracted, I got off the phone and called in to BushDiva to come out.

We compared stories and histories and laughed for a bit. As she prepared to go to her guest house (she actually lives in Monrovia) I invited her to dinner. As luck would have it, Emme (who had been MIA for a week or so) called and she agreed to join us as well.

I pulled together some lentil soup and couscous and we sat around and talked and laughed until it was late.  Wry-ly, generally quiet, didn’t say much but seemed to enjoy herself as well.

Dinner behind us we decided it was time to end the evening. So out we trailed, all five of us, to walk Emme to meet her motorcycle taxi and Benin home. Only halfway to Starbucks (which is also the taxi stand) we realized we hadn’t locked the back door. So Wry-ly headed back to the house.  Then we realized Emme’s usual driver wasn’t available and finally dissuaded her from jumping on the back of some random driver (most of the drivers are ex-combatants from the war) and to just stay the night.

That left only Benin. We began walking to the opposite side of the compound –tripping and laughing and generally having a great time at 10pm on a dark and pitted dirt road. After meandering around, following the road one way, gazing down another with a row of seemingly identical houses in the absence of light, we realized Benin had no idea where she was staying. This inspired hysterical laughter on our part. Our evening of dinner and laughter was about to turn into a slumber party.

But no, one more street to try, we finally found the house – only to discover the gate was locked. What to do. Benin began the connect-the-dots phone calls she needed to make to actually contact the woman in the house. At the same time, a man came outside and began talking into his phone, “they have been walking up and down the street…not sure where they…” we couldn’t her everything but we heard enough to prompt BushDiva to ask, “are you calling the police on us?” Of course not, instead he was calling his neighbor to let us in…since clearly we were unable to help ourselves.

One ward for the night taken care of, we headed home and in route saw a university bus pull up to the hospital. Peering inside we made friends with George, father of Princess, Peace, and Love, who agreed to carry Emme back to her home on campus. So we all piled in for the short ride.

On the way back, George talked about e work he was doing – how he did it to make sure his kids could go to school. He talked about things getting better “small small” but was adamant that he could see it. And he talked of hard work and how after the war young people didn’t seem to want to do it. But he was willing…for himself and for his kids.

We arrived back at the hospital in time for George to pick up the nurses he had originally come for (it is one of the shift changes) and we thanked him and waved as we walked home.

*most names in my Liberia blog have been fictionalized for privacy

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1 Comment on sisters of the yam…er…lentil

  1. Linda O'Dell says:

    Sounds like a wonderful day and night with ggod food, friends, adventure and good conversation!
    Linnea, I love your web page, it is beautiful! Luv ya, Aunt Linda

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