Guess where the photo comes from? Thank you, Sean Brody.
Okay, I know it's not the weekend anymore, but I wanted to share how being back in Robertsport after our longest absence to date was. Plus, it was a really fun weekend.
Nate and I drove up on Saturday morning after a nice lie-in, since we decided there was no reason to kick ourselves out of bed really early only to feel tired for the rest of the day. We'd been to a friends' going-away barbeque at the PAE compound the night before, enjoying a South African brai of fillet, lamb and barracuda. The Thai owner of the Golden Beach Restaurant, which has overpriced and disappointing food, made wonderful golden shrimp and spring rolls, which meant I started to harass and plead with him later in the evening in an attempt to convince him to put Thai food on the menu.
A word about the PAE compound. PAE is short for Pacific Architects and Engineers, a division of Lockheed Martin that's training the Armed Forces of Liberia. Enough said. Their bar, which is open to the public, was a covered hut by the pool with an American and an MIA flag hanging behind in. They served beer, liquor and soda, but no juice or water. They also have a kick ass pool and a fleet of tough looking vehicles all backed into their parking spaces ready to go, but no trees.
Anyway, our drive to Robertsport was fun. We had a Response Corp volunteer (the post-conflict version of Peace Corps) staying with us for a few days, so we set up the campsite, which now has a bunch of new benches made by Alfred and Ben. Then we went surfing at Shipwrecks, where I caught nice little shoulder-high waves and managed to stay on them pretty much all the way to the rocks. It was a good session, followed by a paddle-out at Cotton Trees when the waves got very, very big. So big that I didn't want to go in, but I sure as hell was not going to paddle into one. It was even an effort to make it in at Inner Cotton Trees in one piece.
Two cool things happened with Robertsport Community Works projects: 1) We made local surfers Alfred Lomax and Benjamin McCrumuda the Campsite Manager and Groundskeeper of Robertsport Community Campsite, respectively -- a hiring which I'll blog more about later this week -- and 2) the Women's Sewing Cooperative resolved its management schism by officially splitting into two five-women teams, one led by Tina and another by Bendu, with a third team coming shortly as we continue to scale up.
Mostly, I just felt welcome. We've only been in Liberia for a little while, but I guess the community had gotten used to us. Five minutes after our car pulled up and parked under the cotton tree, Tina ran up to give me a big hug and took me over to Nana's, where I was summarily scolded and greeted with exaggerated displays of happiness. For example Augustine, whose invitation to buy him prayer beads and a Muslim hat for Ramadan I had to deny, insisted on kissing my hand, which Tina then rubbed off. It was awesome to be back.