25 June 2006

21 June 2006

Random things today:

  1. I finally got anti-malarials, after two pharmacies and the driver finally paying for them for me because in a moment of great mortification I had to buy the entire box and it cost $10 (after a $2 discount) while I only had $3 on me. (I thought I was okay because really I only wanted ONE tablet. But they wouldn’t sell them that way.) I only bought them at all because I started feeling psychosomatically feverish after talking to some coworkers (from Africa, even) who told me that I had a “death wish” if I wasn’t taking them because any lingering immunity goes away after five years. So I got them and I took one.

  1. I shall never be a human resources person, particularly not in Africa. Doing some statistical work on applications people have sent in to the organization I’m working for, I wanted to hire all of them. I felt bad putting them in less-education piles, even when they had less education. I felt bad knowing how many of them desperately needed work, enough that well-educated people had applied for menial jobs. I wanted to be on their side and get them all hired. The other interns from my school think I’m heartless when I want to tip less than 20% (20%! In Africa! Where a dollar or two for a $50 tab is more than any wait staff expects! My friends are destroying the market.), but I’m not really. I would just rather it go to other places. I would rather pay someone with no job to carry my bags, for example, than give that money to someone who already has a job in a restaurant. I can’t stand the idea that people want a job and can’t get one.

  1. I walked around a bit by myself in downtown Monrovia today, for the first time. I loved it. Everything in Monrovia feels so familiar but yet all new. And no offense to other white people, but being in a crowd of white people is just not the same. There is more anonymity in being white alone than white in a crowd. Not much more anonymity, but some. I see things better when I’m not trying to stay with people. I notice different things. Monrovia more than most cities is a place where you have watch your feet. Partly this is because it isn’t like so much of Kigali or Arusha, where living is separate from the center of town, other than the people who live above their stores. No, Broad Street, Randall Street, Center Street – there are houses, old containers serving as houses, little alleyways to houses, all clustered between little stores and big stores. And living inevitably involves water, generally just thrown out onto the sidewalk, such as it is, or on the road, plus it is rainy season, so things are a little wet. Not good for sandals. Monrovia also seems to me to have a funny setup, maybe because of its peninsular format. The university and all the government buildings are clustered together between most of the living areas and the downtown. And then there is a police training center IN the downtown. How does that work? Sadly, it blocks access to the beach for much of downtown Monrovia.

  1. I bought some peanut butter, spreadable cheese (a whole ‘nother entry) and chocolate frosting today because I’m getting a tiny bit bored with spreadable cheese and cream cracker sandwiches and I thought, “What better to spice up peanut butter and cream cracker sandwiches than chocolate?” And I don’t really like Nutella. Something about that hazelnut flavor. So, frosting. And then, get this: it turns out to be made in the US and it contains, I still can’t believe it, BEEF FAT. Written just like that. Some company in Illinois makes frosting with BEEF FAT and sends it off to all parts of the world. The peanut butter-cream cracker sandwich turned out to be incredibly bland and stuck to the roof of my mouth, so I had to use the frosting, but I have felt slightly sick to my stomach ever since just knowing that I ate frosting made with BEEF FAT, which is made of cows, in case you didn’t know, and I think tomorrow I’m going to have to spring the extra 40 cents for the Betty Crocker. If the Betty Crocker for export doesn’t have BEEF FAT in it, too.

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