Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NB: Liberia

Because two major film crews have just come and gone, both blogging (Bourdain here, the ESPN guy here) about the challenges of their visits, I feel it's only fair to let friends, family and the wonderful complete strangers who read my blog know that it's not as hardcore here as they make it sound. Ever since the Vice Travel Guide to Liberia, quite a few bloggers who write about Liberia have been at pains to point out that things aren't as tough or hard as they sound (my favorite one is here). This is just me adding my own thoughts on what it looks like from the inside.

One of the scariest things, when I was thinking of moving here with Nate, was the post-conflict element. Wouldn't the whole nation be traumatized by war? What about the epidemic levels of sexual violence that continue to affect young women and girls? Nate visited first, just to make sure it was viable, and then we both came six months later. What we found during our reconnaissance was a sleepy little town with minimal violent crime, a vibrant if sometimes sensational local media and people who were vocal, open and extremely hardworking. And we moved last May.

I love living here, and I think the place is still growing on me. I love Robertsport, with its welcoming community full of enthusiasm for our own commitment to the place, always ready with a joke and a big hello. I love living by the ocean and going surfing whenever we can. I love that there are more foreign NGOs that businesses, and that starting anything entrepreneurial is met with enthusiasm and a list of staff recommendations. I love that start-ups are so accessible here, without the blocks to foreigners working that there are in other places in Africa. I even love that it rains a lot--as long as we have a good roof, which at Tides is another post entirely...

But the posts make me realize, also, that being here can be tougher for people than I sometimes realize. Sure, I try to take time daily for yoga and fun and writing, eat and rest well, plan fun explorations and adventures, but it's easy to burn-out--I see it a lot around me and I don't want to go there. It's also good to recognize that our visitors maybe having a much harder (and, from the sound of it, hotter) time than I am and that it's good to schedule pool days at Kendeja, even if they only serve one slice of meat on their club sandwiches...

Just a little shout-out to Liberians to say thanks for having me in your country. It's awesome and I'm loving every day.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments! They help to inform my posts and are very much appreciated.