Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Work Scene in Liberia

I am trying to blog again regularly. I was so good about blogging every single day, sometimes multiple entries in a day, until I hit Liberia. Now Liberia is certainly an interesting Scene on the Byway and deserving of much blogging. But the internet was crazy slow, making it a tedious process to upload an entry and almost impossible to upload a photograph. I spent one night waiting for hours for one photograph (1!) to upload. Additionally, while I would think of things I wanted to write about, I never had the time and energy to sit down and put those thoughts onto paper (in this case I guess I should say computer screen) because I was so insanely busy. 

I would walk out of my room (room 13 - best room at the hotel...only ocean view...13 is a lucky number for me...never mind that I discovered that was a room where a guy killed himself...) into our temporary office in the open air bar/restaurant (until we secured an office, we were working temporarily out of the hotel restaurant/bar) ...the temporary office with the amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean, but also with the incredible humidity that along with the crappy fluctuating power system would cause me to get a slight shock from the corners of my laptop about 20 times a day (good times!), causing me to jump and yell. It happened to others too so it became this funny thing...we would all laugh when someone would yelp because we knew what it was.

And there would be the deafening sound of the ocean crashing - right there, several yards away - so loud that it made it difficult to hear someone on a phone call from our little office/bar/restaurant. That sound never ceased. You would hear it in your room at night...fall asleep to its sound. I knew I would miss that when I left. Who doesn't want to have crashing ocean waves lull you to sleep at night? It is certainly nicer background noise than traffic. And when you would look out at the ocean occasionally during work, you would see boats - big modern ships and little traditional canoes, cruising along. Then every evening we were treated to amazing sunsets across the ocean. And for a few nights we were treated to a lightning show across the water that was one of the most beautiful things I've seen.

Anyway, I would be working in the office/bar until around 8 or 9 pm at night. By that time I was a damp mess, my butt hurt from sitting on a hard chair all day long, and my back was killing me as I was hunched over the computer all day. I would go to my room and take a much deserved air conditioning break (sweet paradise!) and a much deserved hot shower (no matter how hot it is, you want a hot shower when you feel so sweaty and dirty). 

Being outside in Monrovia you sweat all day long...I mean sweat like I've never sweat before...your clothes get soaked...your hair never really dries and long hair cannot touch the neck and must be worn up at all times or you feel like you are suffocating...your face always has a shiny sheen (which was actually great for the complexion)...and you always felt like you needed to put on more deodorant and some kind of body spray or something...anything you put on would disappear immediately, just sweat rolling off. It is the most humid place I've been (although I do recall Colombo, Sri Lanka being like that...but there I was usually in the air conditioning). All of our papers would be moist. I already mentioned the computer shock - due in part to the fluctuating bad quality power, but also due to the humidity. Any beverage you ordered, within minutes the ice was melted, the drink was warm and the condensation was all over the table soaking your papers. So...the air conditioning respite in room 13 and the hot shower, were pure heaven AMAZING. 

Then after a little time in the room, I would head back out to our office/bar which was now just a restaurant/bar and start to decompress from the long day and get ready for the next one. We would hang out with the motley crew that resides at the Atlantis Beach Hotel - guys who have been living in Liberia for a long time. Have a few drinks. Get some food. Listen to music. Share stories, be silly, argue, goof off...and then suddenly before you knew it, it was 1 am, 2 am. So then you would go back to the air conditioned heaven, maybe try to get on line a little to check email, and fall asleep knowing you would not get enough sleep before you had to wake up and do it all over again.

I am happy to be home, but I will miss my little open air office/bar...and the ocean view...and the sounds of the crashing waves...and the fascinating, fun people who populate that scene.

Temporary Office/Bar/Restaurant, Atlantis Beach Hotel
View from the "office"

Few of the regulars

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