If you're keeping up with Anthony Bourdain's television show, No Reservations, you'll know they just shot an episode in Liberia. They were in Monrovia, staying at Kendeja (where I spied him drinking at the bar and lounging in the pool), driving upcountry to Gbanga and spending the last days of their trip in Robertsport.
Their fixer had arranged with Alfred to have a community barbecue at the campsite and had asked me to help out. Only it became one of those things where I was trying to organize someone who didn't want help and didn't want to be organized. Fair enough, I had to tell myself (over and over again, feeling disappointed because it would've been cool--for me). Part of building capacity is letting people do their own thing when they want to. Because he hadn't really organized anything by the time the crew landed, though, they switched locations to Mrs. Peabody's place next door.
Mrs. Peabody is actually an older Americo-Liberian woman named Agnes who has fixed up her grandmother's house on the top of the hill and runs a bed and breakfast. She spends the dry season in Liberia and the rainy season back in the States. She's also cut down all but two of the trees on her land and fenced her part of the beach. But it's the only place in RP with air conditioning and half the crew was planning to stay up there, while the other half were staying at the campsite.
I had T-Boy on the phone the day after they were shooting, reminding me to please bring him a cutlass so he can open coconuts and kill snakes, so I asked him how the crew's stay went. "How was their meal?" I asked. "Oh yes," he said knowingly. "They ate in America."
I was a little confused. "They ate in America?" "Oh yes," he confirmed. Alright then. Where did they stay. "They didn't stay at the campsite," he said. "They stayed in America."
Now, I'm pretty sure the No Reservations crew didn't fly back to the States to film their Liberian barbecue scene, so I did some quick thinking. And then I got it. "You mean, they ate up on the hill?" I asked. "Yes, yes," T-Boy said. "They ate in America."
I find it hilarious that Mrs. Peabody, who is a Liberian citizen with long-standing roots in the country, gets to be called "America" while we, who actually are American, somehow are not. And now Nate and I have a great nickname for her bed and breakfast: America.