|I've never been happier to see 98.6 F on a thermometer|
After combating my illness, I decided to join Sasha and Meredith and go to Martin’s place at Black Johnson Beach for the Fourth of July. I hadn’t been to Martin’s since my very first weekend in Sierra Leone back in February, but Martin has visited us in Freetown a few times. He’s weirded me out ever since I met him, but his creepiness factor has gotten significantly higher since I discovered that he’s recently taken on a Sierra Leonean wife who cannot possibly be more than 22 years old and she’s probably even younger than that. Martin is at least 45 years old. Don’t get me wrong – Martin is a nice guy and he’s got some incredible travel stories and we bonded over our shared love of astronomy, but this whole situation with his young bride makes me extremely uncomfortable. I was, however, comforted by the fact that Meredith and Annisha also find it to be really strange. His wife, Effie, is very quiet around us so it’s hard to know what she’s really like when it’s just the two of them. This type of situation is quite common in Sierra Leone, but it begs the question – what motivates a middle aged European man who’s traveled all around the world to come settle in Sierra Leone and take a “bush wife” (as Meredith puts it) and why does he make such awkward comments about the situation? But it’s really none of my business. There is one really interesting thing that was happening on the Monday after we left. They were going to have a traditional fertility ceremony. It involved slaughtering a chicken and Effie’s grandmother coming to perform a ceremony where she would rub oils of some sort on Effie and pray that she would get pregnant. Martin doesn’t really seem like the father type to me (considering the fact that he thinks he probably has multiple children around the world and has no desire to find any of them…), but again it’s none of my business. I can still think it’s very strange though. Anyway, apart from all that the Fourth was not very exciting. We did, however, have this delightful “Product of USA” to eat and I may or may not have opened the can, ate a few and declared, much to Meredith’s amusement, “Tastes like freedom.”
|View on the way out of Freetown...I'm really going to miss this :-(|
|The hangout at Martin's|
|This sky made up for the fact that we didn't have any fireworks|
Last Saturday we had a delightfully American brunch. Sasha thought it was so disturbing that Meredith and I like syrup on our bacon and eggs. Clearly he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The rest of last weekend was pretty uneventful. I met one of our new TDY-ers, Michelle. She’s from California and she’s pretty cool. Sasha and I watched tennis (after having worked from home on Friday just so we could watch the men’s semifinals) and were disappointed that Federer lost.
Anyway, this week hasn’t been too bad. Eve left which is sad. Annisha has been coming over after work most days because her boyfriend, Ahmed, is in Kenema for a week or so at the school he runs there. We’ve had some tasty food including Annisha's naan. I was also asked if I wanted a contract with CRS and I’ve been avoiding giving them an answer because I’m going to be really awkward when I say no. While I’m so glad to have had this opportunity and I’ve enjoyed working for CRS, I think it’s time to move on. Anyway, Sasha wasn’t feeling well today so we worked from home. Actually, I worked and Sasha slept. I was more productive today than I’ve been all week at the office. Tomorrow is the end of Ramadan so it’s a public holiday which is fantastic. I don’t think there’s anything better than getting a day off for a holiday you don’t even celebrate. Typically Freetown is like one big party during this holiday (Eid al-Fitr), but it will be interesting to see what it’s like tomorrow given the Ebola situation. What exactly is the Ebola situation right now? It’s not good. In recent weeks we’ve seen a spike in cases in Port Loko, Kambia and Western Area Urban (aka Freetown). In Port Loko the cases are confined to two chiefdoms and Operation Northern Push is hopefully working to stop the spread there, but the sudden, fairly large increase in cases in Freetown was unexpected given that we had gone 18 days without a new case here. I attended the Ebola Frontline meeting at UNDP this week and, after getting over the shock of the facilitator opening this high level meeting by having us mediate (clearly Ebola has made people a little crazy), I learned that we should be expecting even more cases. That’s not exactly surprising, but it’s a bit depressing. In addition to the increase in cases here, Liberia reported new cases after having been declared Ebola free back in May. That was devastating, but it’s reassuring that they seem to have things under control and were able to catch things quickly using their surveillance system. Sasha and Annisha are absolutely convinced that Ebola will never end here. I have my moments where I start to agree with them, but those pass pretty quickly. Nothing’s impossible. Ebola will end here. After it ends, it will likely come back again eventually, but stopping the current outbreak will be a huge achievement and when the next cases develop people will know what to do.
P.S. I'LL BE HOME EXACTLY ONE MONTH FROM TODAY!!!!!