I’m not starving to death.

The bugs have not eaten me alive.

My house is quite sturdy and nice.

I feel like maybe I’m misrepresenting my time here without intending to. I know I have a running commentary on food and water or the lack thereof, but the severity I’m feeling is really in the contrast. My bay area life against here – my recollections of my South African village against this hospital compound. And it is different. And it is more challenging than my previous experiences, but I’m not wasting away into bone and skin and a mound of hair.

My friend Tom sent me a message that he wants me to visit him in Dar so he can feed and take care of me. And as much as I’d love to take him up on that, I hate to think that I have him worried.

I could eat differently. More abundantly. It is possible. My IFESH buddies over at Cuttington eat well. The recipe for more satisfying meals has a few ingredients…access to a freezer and larger refrigerator (ours is a little dorm style one), more frequent trips to Monrovia, money, and time.

The last two pose an interesting dilemma. I could spend substantially more money when I’m in Monrovia and bring food home – things that you generally don’t find in the interior. I could – but I don’t. equally, I could get creative, do more prep, be more invested, make things like bread like Ulitave (Emme’s sweetie) does-like I did in South Africa. The other day I had dinner with Ulitave and Emme and we had animal protein (chicken) and home baked bread…it was delicious. it is possible. I simply don’t do it.

For better or worse, beans make the most sense for me. I eat them often. Too often. I’m sure once I’m done here I won’t look at beans again for years. But coupled with rice it is a complete protein, and unlike pasta I’m not starving again in half an hour.

As for the water…the water table of our pump seems to have risen slightly. Folks have been hammering away at the pump again – although it takes much longer to draw a bucket of water than it did when we first arrived. Today was my first excursion to pump in a few weeks…I cheated as is my custom and waited until someone was finished up so that the water didn’t have time to retreat all the way back down before I started pumping. Even so I was pumping for a while to no avail.

A few minutes into my fatigued flailing two young men came walking down the path and gave me that quizzical look all young people give me when I’m pumping. One of them handed the small chick he was carrying to his buddy and took the handle from me. With energy and muscle I simply don’t have, he leveraged that pump up and down for quite a few minutes. When he slowed, his friend took over – neither allowing me to step in to help. My bucket full, they nodded and smiled and walked on their way.

so you see, even the water isn’t bad.

Millions of people grow and thrive and rejoice and mourn and succeed and fail and live and live and live…in Liberia every day. My musings are a moment in time…perspectives juxtaposed against my cushier incarnation…simply ordinary living for a good portion of the world.

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