Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The past few days have been more than usually eventful (. . . although that isn't saying much, given how boring my day-to-day life tends to be). Let me divide it up for you:

THE GOOD: Because of Easter, we had a 4-day weekend, and I decided to take advantage of it to do something I haven't really done since I've been here: travel. I didn't go very far – just to the next county over, River Gee, to visit another volunteer who is teaching there. He showed me around the town and we dorked out and watched nearly a full season's worth of Battlestar Galactica (side note: HOLY SHIT SO GOOD . . . how had I never watched this show before??). I traveled back on Sunday in the “YOU SEE?,” a run-down yellow cab. The trip back was interesting (though not particularly comfortable – 3 hours of sharing the passenger seat with a large woman, trying to make myself as small as possible so as not to get in the way of the driver as he shifted gears). We saw, among other things: a man wearing some kind of small marsupial-like animal around his wrist like a bracelet, an abandoned overturned truck, and several dead monkeys for sale hanging from sticks along the side of the road (if you're wondering what the going rate for dead monkeys is, one of the passengers bought one for 275 LD – about $4).

What really struck me about that part of Liberia was the isolation. The road was a narrow, unpaved, red-dirt affair, cutting through thick, green jungle. Periodically we passed through a tiny village, but other than that, the road was almost completely deserted. And my friend informed me that there are many more villages beyond the small ones we passed – villages that are not connected to the rest of civilization by any road at all.

THE BAD: I'm sick again. Once again, it's (fortunately) not bad enough to really worry about, but it is enough to be unpleasant. I've spent the majority of the last day and a half either in bed or in my bathroom. Of course, I can't really complain, since it's probably my own fault. You would think I'd have learned my lesson by now about eating questionable things, but apparently not . . . although, in my defense, nearly all of the food options here are pretty questionable . . .

THE UGLY: I think that someone tried to break into my house Sunday night. I was awakened at 4:30 AM by a very loud noise, which sounded to me as though someone was trying to get up onto my roof. (Although, to be objective, it might have been my imagination; I've been really paranoid lately about noises in the middle of the night. Another volunteer's house was broken into while he was at work not too long ago, and since there was no sign of forced entry, they deduced that the thieves had been able to enter through the gap between the walls and the roof. Ever since then, I've interpreted every little unidentifiable sound – every mouse squeak, every roach skitter – as somebody trying to come in through my ceiling. So it's possible that my half-awake brain interpreted the loud noise as someone on the roof simply because that is what I'm most afraid of).

Frightened at the thought of being locked into my house with an uninvited intruder, I opened the front door and went out onto the porch (noticing that my screen door, which I'm in the habit of latching before I lock my main door, was unlatched, suggesting that someone had been trying to enter through the front door). There, I spied a man with a flashlight hiding in the shadows of my neighbor's house, looking toward my bedroom. He flashed the light on me and then quickly flashed it away, and then casually walked out of the compound towards town with another man who appeared from behind the neighbor's house.

The next day, I asked my landlord if he had any idea why two strange men would have been hanging out around our houses in the middle of the night. He talked with my other neighbors, who had also been awakened by the sound that awakened me and who had gone outside to investigate. Apparently, when they saw the two men and inquired as to what the hell they were doing, the men just walked away without answering.

Needless to say, the whole thing freaked me right the fuck out. I talked with Peace Corps, who talked with the local police, but there's really not much that anyone can do (Peace Corps did offer to ask the police to camp out outside my house, but that seemed like overkill to me . . . especially since I don't know for sure what those shady guys were up to). My landlord reassured me that my house is constructed in such a way that it would not be possible for someone to come in through the roof, which made me feel better. And I'm definitely going to be much more careful now about closing and deadbolting the heavy wooden shutters over my barred windows; I can't imagine that anyone would be able to get in through them without making enough noise to wake me and alert the neighbors. Still, I won't lie – I definitely won't be sleeping as soundly as I have been . . . which between the heat and the mouse, rat, and roach noises has not been all that soundly anyway . . .


  1. Creepy...stay safe. I am obligated by Texas state law to inform you that I think it would be a great idea for you to just go buy 23583 guns for your own protection (I don't really think that's a good idea).

    BSG is pretty sweet, but it kinda goes down hill after the first two years. Still, it's hard to beat some Edward James Olmos. I won't ruin it for you, but it's definitely awesome for a while.

    Also, apparently Hello Kitty makes wine now. Thought you should know.