Jul 30, 2012 1
And which type of post would that be? A blog post, or a wooden post, or a foreign office post, or a mail post, or a guard post? All will be explained in due course.
I am currently at the brussels airport (enjoying internet connectivity that does not occasion reminiscences of the “how many baud do you have?” variety), returning from work on my project in liberia. I realized just before leaving that it may be my last time there, depending on how things go. Although to be quite frank it is pretty low on the list of countries I’d recommend visiting, it’s still a sad thought after five or six trips during the last several years, meeting people and getting to know monrovia.
This time around did not start auspiciously: my multiple entry visa from last year was due to expire the day after I arrived, and it wasn’t clear to me whether that was legal or not — in some countries it is and in some it isn’t, but naturally nobody could tell me about liberia. Thankfully our staff in country secured me an airport visa to be waiting upon arrival, and given that the immigration folks were not inclined to let me into the country until I mentioned it, this was fortuitous. Of course I had to exit security and the airport (unaccompanied, sans paperwork) to pick up the actual visa from our driver, which somehow didn’t seem to bother anyone. Ah, liberia.
My luggage, alas, had not made the tight connection in dulles and therefore wasn’t on my flight to brussels nor the flight to monrovia. Fortunately they were on the next flight. Which was two days later. I was able to pick them up the day after that. Since my entire stay was only four days, this was also the day before I left. Hence I found myself in the air brussels office in downtown monrovia, both picking up my delayed bags and simultaneously checking in for my return flight! I had called the local air brussels baggage phone number a day earlier to make sure that everything was on track, and the woman who answered agreed that it was, after apologizing for her child crying in the background, since this was apparently a mobile phone that she simply had with her. I said it was no problem, really. Ah, liberia.
Driving along we passed Alfred’s business center and then the competing God is Good business center. One also notices a lot of public service messages, on billboards but also stenciled onto walls. These range from “Please pay your taxes to Mama Liberia” to “Only dogs can pepe here” to (less-than-reassuring, and illustrated) “Rape is very serious – You will be prosecuted – Don’t do it”. My new personal favorite, which I hadn’t seen before, is: “Don’t bury dirt”. Dirt, it seems, connotes trash. Ah, liberia.
Meanwhile our office also has some interesting reading material: “Introductory Econometrics” on the shelf next to “Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book” next to “Just Give Money to the Poor” next to “Constructing Grounded Theory”. Since some of the admin staff apparently did not find these sufficiently compelling, they spent quite a bit of time surfing the web. In order to cut down on this, our office managers had to block facebook as well as several search keywords… such as “sports” and (wait for it) “church”. That’s right: they were frittering away time not on porn but on religion. Ah, liberia.