Gbarnga – Monrovia Express

 

I met John 2 at Iron Gate this morning around 6am to get a head start on our day trip to Monrovia.  A little cloudy and rainy for part of the journey but not much otherwise – I love an uneventful excursion!  It’s nice to have John 2 driving so I could close my eyes and nap along the way.  My cold is subsiding…just a bit of chest cough and not that endless runny nose and sneezing.

One of my reasons for going “in town” was to meet with LCL leaders to say hello and to sign NGO documents with Hawa Norris.  When I arrived, everyone I intended to meet was in a meeting.  I took the opportunity to run to Stop & Shop to top off my meal provisions with things I can’t buy in Gbarnga.  I also found that the ERA Supermarket across the street has some delicious fresh baked “mini” raspberry croissants for just 50₵ –  a bonus find! I also needed to renew the liability insurance on the Foton which expires the end of this month.  I tried a different agency this time and found them to much more professional, organized, prompt, and …. cheaper!  A lucky find.

Upon my return to the LCL compound I met Hawa.  Unfortunately, she did not bring the documents I emailed her last month.  She then had email problems and couldn’t retrieve the documents.  I didn’t bring my laptop to Monrovia so I couldn’t be of any help resending it.  So a bit of a delay on that front.  While trying to work through the IT issues, I learned that Hawa is involved with developing businesses and savings groups among village women that have been very successful.  Many women have savings for the first time in their lives.  I want to follow up with her and get more details.

When the leader meeting adjourned, I was able to visit with my friend, Isaac Dowah (Assistant to the Bishop) and Bishop Seyenkulo.  Bishop says hello to Pastor Schultz and the board members and conveyed his sorrow about the recent property theft on our campus.  He was recently in the US for a “medical visit” – basically he appreciates the US healthcare system enough to have all his medical checkups, “over-50” procedures, and dental work done during a single month-long visit specifically for that.  (Hey Tara – I found that Younger has graduated high school and is being tutored by the German missionary, Sebastian, in order to “lift her education standards” for applying to college in the US).

John 2 and I headed over to Eagle Electric to load the truck with supplies.  Amin, the branch manager, was happy to see us again (as you can imagine when money walks through the door).  Actually, the entire staff at Eagle has been amazing (very customer-centric and professional) so I’m always satisfied with their service.  While the booty was being loaded and strapped down, I bought several loaves of “100 dollar bread” to bring back to my friends in Deanville.  Every time I return from Monrovia they ask if I’ve brought the  bread (“bwō-oo” in Kpelle…at least that’s the best phonetics I can think of).  img_6729

It rained a bit on the way home but was clear by the time we reached the school warehouse to unload.  It’s a long day of driving the Gbarnga-Monrovia Express!

Just to give you a typical view out the windshield, this photo shows a small car packed with bags of charcoal on their way to market.

Yesterday I gave Sando a few things:  my laundry (the Phebe caretaker, Steven, has apparently been told to retire because he’s too old to make the 1/2 hour limp from his home down the Gbarnga Highway to the guesthouse each day so he’s no longer available for this duty);  a few of Kathy’s old clothes that were in the “give away pile” in our mudroom (which I gave to Sando); and beads with ear ring and necklace clasps for creating some beaded jewelry (compliments of Kathy, too).  I suggested she make necklaces for her daughter with “Dusu” on it using the alphabet beads so Dusu would learn how to spell her name.  When I returned from Monrovia this evening, I stopped by to grab my cleaned clothes and was attacked by cute kids wearing “name necklaces”! Just when I thought they couldn’t get any more adorable.  I was also happy to find out (and Kathy will be happy, too) that Sando actually sold 2 necklaces already ($20LD which is only 20₵ but it’s a start).

The other excitement of the last couple of days was my “new” printer.  My neighbor across the street at home placed a few used items at the curb (which is common by us…it’s our version of “free recycling”) and one was a small HP printer.  I picked it up and plugged it in at home and it worked fine.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said nothing other than the colored ink wouldn’t print, plus he had another better printer.  It was as simple as buying new cartridges and it works like a dream.  I packed it in my checked luggage and it made it to Liberia in one piece.  I tried it yesterday when the power came on and , voila!, it works.  I can now scan and print (subject to electricity) in my guesthouse.  Ah the simple pleasures of technology.

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