Bucket babies and other Liberian tricks

I received an early morning phone call from Rupert, the current Rotary club president, that my grant reimbursement checks were ready and could be picked up at Cuttington University where he works. John 2 had not yet arrived so I waited a bit after breakfast for him to drive me there before running off to Gbatala for more crushed rock. It appeared he was late so I drove myself and met Rupert between classes he was teaching. I turned right around and returned to GLTC shortly after John 2 arrived. We jumped back in the truck and drove to Gbarnga so I could go to the bank, he could pick up the generator being repaired, and students from LOIC could be transported to GLTC (more on this in a moment).

I dreaded the prospect of spending 4 hours in the bank and my anxiety spiked when I stepped through the bank doors to see a line leading from the lobby down two flights of stairs and into a crowded waiting area by the tellers. There must have been at least 100 people since I could look over the balcony railing and see 6 rows of occupied chairs, people standing two deep by teller windows, the 25 or so patrons lining the stairs, plus those seated in the entry lobby. I felt compelled to play the inferred “white missionary” card by stepping into the doorway of the also-crowded bank manager’s office. I needed his authorization signature on the Rotary check being deposited anyway so I just lingered amidst his office chaos for a while after obtaining his check approval till he acknowledged me again and asked one of the security guards to take me directly to a teller. I could hear rumblings of “white man” as I passed some but I’ve heard it for a few years now so it doesn’t phase me. I felt no guilt for turning four hours of wasted time into a 45 minute transaction, allowing me to get back to laying water lines to the chicken house.

With fresh money in my pocket and a check in the bank, I walked over to my favorite bread seller on Broad Street. The foot long bread sticks are like good sub rolls and I love making a scrambled egg sandwich for breakfast out of it. I think tomorrow should be French toast! I continued on to Mr. Barbar’s shop and bought more PVC glue.

I stopped at Deanville to walk through on my way back to GLTC. My friend Rose was there preparing rice (She moved away then had a baby she named Kathryn after my wife…is now back in Deanville for some reason). This photo doesn’t convey the process at all but I’ve got great video that I’ll upload some time when the network is good. She beat the rice repeatedly with a mortar and pestle. Sometimes she’d show off on the up stroke of the long wooden pole used as the pestle by releasing it and clapping before re-gripping it on the down stroke in time to hurl it into the rice-filled mortar. I didn’t try the trickery but I did attempt a few pounds with the pestle. Rose removed the rice and threw it in the air on her flat woven basket, then flipped the pile of kernels like a chef does an omelet in a frying pan, working it all methodically to separate the chaff from the precious staple starch. Occasionally she’d do a bit of a dance and slowly rotate in place while tossing the kernels. I can’t even imagine the thousands of times she’ll prepare rice like this in her lifetime….and with a smile on her face!

A group of girls were beginning their walk from Deanville to school for the afternoon class so I joined them on the path. They giggled and talked the whole way.

After checking the poultry plastering progress, inspecting the new welder’s work on the support poles, and acknowledging the nice straight trenches by the digging crews, I worked my way to the guesthouse for lunch. I stopped to appreciate the cooks and found an interesting childcare tip to share with my children for trying with their offspring … baby in a bucket!

Offering the latest in cylindrical child support, the BabyBucket 2000XL is a must for the modern millennial on the go. Ergonomic, economic, and rather comic, the 2000XL is multifunctional. No other product serves the whole family from baby bath and infant carrier (with integrated fold down handle) to river water transportation device and stylish mop bucket. All for just $19.99 – but wait, there’s more. Be one of the next 4 million callers and get a free CassavaMatic 2000 with your BabyBucket 2000XL order (just pay shipping and handling). You’ll never make fufu the same way again. Act now, scammers are standing by!

Back to our regularly scheduled blog. Sumo has engaged a group of students at LOIC (Liberian Opportunity Industrialization Center) in Gbarnga who are receiving agricultural training. They require practical experience so they are preparing cassava gardens on our campus property with the harvest benefiting our school and staff. Just another way Sumo is expanding the reach of GLTC. I love how neat their garden grid is.

2 thoughts on “Bucket babies and other Liberian tricks

  1. Great blog, as usual. Loved Rose’s baby named for Kathryn. And your riff on the 2000XLBabyBucket was a winner; very creative. It reminds me of Dan Akroyd’s SNL bit in selling the Bass O’Matic, one of Douglas’ and my favorites. “It’s a real rush!”

    Be well, Herk

    Like

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