March 14, 2006

Séjour en Transylvanie / Journey in Transilvania

I feel that I may have a hit a low. I am sincerely wondering whether I should continue or not, though I wonder deep down in my heart if I may be feeling this way because I am (once again) in a restricted environment. While Sierra Leone felt like there was a certain amount of freedom, Liberia is the most restricted country I have ever been to.

Je suis dans un creux de vague. Je me demande si je dois rester dans ce travail, mais je me demande aussi si mon manque d’enthousiasme n’est pas lie au fait que je suis (encore une fois) en poste dans un pays difficile. Alors qu’au Sierra Leone j’avais un peu de liberté, je dirai que le Liberia est le pays le plus restrictif que j’ai jamais visite.

When I arrived in Liberia, the security officer was waiting for us. He gave us a cell phone each, and we hopped in the pick up truck for the drive to Monrovia. During the 45-minute drive, I read the security handbook and observed the biblical landscape that was flowing around me. Liberia is so green, so lush, that it strikes the imagination. The Garden of Eden comes to mind.

A mon arrivée au Liberia, l’officier de sécurité nous attendait à l’aéroport. Il nous a donne un cellulaire chacune, et on est monte dans le camion. Pendant le trajet de 45 minutes, j’ai lu le carnet de sécurité et regarde le paysage biblique alentour. Le Liberia est tellement verdoyant, la végétation est si luxuriante, que ça en frappe l’imagination. Ca me fait penser au jardin d’Eden.

I was very tired, and passed out on my bed at 4PM, only to wake up at 1AM, starving and very awake. My room is does not have a balcony, my hotel does not have a bar or a terrace. It is forbidden to smoke everywhere. So I stepped out into the hotel yard, and had the claustrophobic impression of being in a box: there was a tarp roof over my head, and the gate was closed, bolted, and a security guard was sleeping against it. At that particular moment, it dawned on me that I was in the most restrictive country I had ever visited.

J’étais très fatiguée, et je me suis couchée à 4h de l’après-midi, pour me réveiller à 1h du matin, affamée et les yeux grands ouverts. Ma chambre n’a pas de balcon. Mes fenêtres donnent sur un mur. Mon hôtel n’a ni bar, ni terrasse. Il est interdit de fumer partout. Alors je suis allée dans la cour de l’hôtel et j’y ai eu la sensation claustrophobe d’être dans une boite : le toit de la cour au-dessus de ma tête, les murs alentour, même le portail ferme, barricade, et le gardien couche devant…. A ce moment en particulier, j’ai réalise que j’étais probablement dans l’environnement le plus restrictif que j’avais jamais visite.

These last days have been difficult. I gave up meat, and there nothing to eat here. I feel no desire to watch TV or to read, no energy to write. There is nothing to do, no one to befriend, no trust to have. Taking a walk after dark is prohibited by the agency’s policy.

Les derniers jours ont été difficiles. J’étais devenue une vraie végétarienne au SL. Ici, les choix culinaires sont très limites. Je n’ai aucune envie de regarder la TV, de lire, ou d’écrire. Il n’y a rien a faire, personne a rencontrer, personne a faire confiance. Il nous est même interdit de marcher dehors après le coucher du soleil.

I feel like I’m in a bad movie. I can’t wait to relax.

J’ai l’impression d’être dans un mauvais film. J’ai hâte de relaxer.

The Beaver

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !


Saur♥Kraut said...

You poor thing. I wish I could give you a hug. Why did you give up meat? Poor nutrition is known to contribute to depression. Make sure you're getting protein in SOME form right now.

I looked up the stats about Liberia and found that their civil war of 20+ years was recently settled two years ago, but things are still unstable there. I also found that the average life expectancies are:

total population: 38.89 years
male: 37.03 years
female: 40.81 years (2005 est.)

How grim.

Be careful, this is not the time to be vulnerable mentally. Perhaps you should consider going back to eating meat for a short time(?)

Beaver said...

Saur, Thanks for your kind words :o)

I gave up meat for several reasons:
1) it's Lent - we all should give up something.
2) it's an easy weightloss program.
3) I feel icky when I eat meat.

I do make sure to get my protein usually, by eating hummuss, dairy products and fish.

Indeed, Liberia is a place where there are a lot of weapons and still potential instability. However, it appears our security officer has been slightly overdoing it. I think he is afraid of losing his job if things settle down.

We now have permission to walk on main roads after dark. This allows us to walk to restaurants who have an acceptable level of variety.

I also found a decent pizza place that delivers. Things are looking up for me! Hopefully, so will they for the liberians, eventually...



Cricketina said...

Poor Beav!

You're a strong woman. Just remember this is just a stop over point. You'll be on to wonderful new places soon.

Thanks for always being there for me. Things have been too busy and rough for me to find time to post lately. Grad school hunt isn't going well.

Hope things are looking up soon enough for you!!

Much Love,

Saur♥Kraut said...

Beav, good! Glad to hear it. Hummus is soooo yummy, isn't it? I've given up a great deal of meat over the years. Like you, I just feel better (and safer!)

007 in Africa said...

I'm thinking about you...Congo will be a breaze next to Liberia.

juliana said...

I gave up meat too for about 2 years. I still ate fish, dairy products, and eggs. It's not being a true vegetarian though. After the 3 years I realized that I still had cravings and that I still loved the taste. So I decided to eat it again.

Good luck with your work and travel. I really envy your job and I hope I can get something half as interesting when I get older.

Thanks so much for the comment on my blog. I didn't want to make the 'friend stealing' seem like too much of a big deal (mainly because my friends read it sometimes) but I have to admit it was on my mind for a while. Thanks for reassuring me that it's really not a big deal.

So, you actually work in Baltimore sometimes? Definately let me know when you're back then.

Kingston Girl said...

It's hard when you're somewhere for only a short time as you have to trust the advice that you are given - you can't really find out for yourself how safe things are etc. But glad you've found pizza!!

Salt Water said...

I trust you have begun to glow again on your own, but I have sent you the best pick-me-up I know of just incase...