6 Feb 2015
CURRENT BOOK: Have not picked one yet. CONTAGION was my read at home, but not a vacation read by any means
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Running is not my sport – it never has been and it never will be, but I can sprint like a Mighty Girl with a big bag, if it is required, just to keep from missing a plane connection. “On your left!!” “Clear the way! Old lady with stick coming thorugh!!!” “Get out of the way you sonofabitch!”
SONG: Fly Me To The Moon? Come Fly With Me? (feel free to make suggestions)
MY 2 LIBERIA'S
Expedia won't give me the flights I am looking for. I keep going back to “change destination” since I am sure that the appearance of LIBERIA in the list of airports is a mistaken cyber memory on the part of my computer. How it knows I went to Liberia, I am not sure, but I did not make the reservation for my original trip to West Africa and so the memory is, of course, an error. I am frustrated over and over and the alternate airports I am listing for our trip to Costa Rica that keep coming up with NO travel dates that can be assigned to us, no matter how I rearrange the dates.
So I call Lia and ask her, “What is the name of that airport near where you stay in Costa Rica? I can't seem to get any dates for the ones I am putting in.”
“Liberia. It's just a short ride to Nicosa from there.”
My notorious geographic challenge arises yet again – and so I think I will address that first.
Physiological program error (brain defect): It is not a new problem. Finding my way out of that paper bag has been a difficult task all my life. Without Siri I need to factor in an hour onto any drive time in a direction unfamiliar to me. That includes large parts of San Antonio and I have lived and worked there for about 30 years. The time I factor in will account for being lost at least that amount of time. Peter and I were asked once if the real reason we took such long trips was because we spent so much time being lost. For the most part Peter is just as bad as I am. Some of our biggest fights have been in the car on the way somewhere. Maps have to be in direct alignment with the direction in which we are driving. If you remind me, I will tell you the story about “Just pretend your a little car!” That was a really big fight..
Sign warning us of a tree in the road. We get it!
Ethnocentricity: USAtians (could also be United Statians) – (while we are 'americans', so are South Americans and Central Americans. We are North Americans so I will differentiate us with my own word USAtians which are similar to Croatians or Ukrainianians or Haitians…you get my drift. Anyway, we are, as a culture, notorious for not being aware of any geographic location other than the general location of own entire country. Within our own country, rarely do you find one of us who can say precisely where another state might be unless we have had to go there many times. And then it is possible we might not be able to relate it to a location with its surrounding states. Some probably know in general, N,S,E or W. For me this reality recognition comes only on a cloudless day and it needs to be early morning or late afternoon. I locate myself in relation to the sun but this only allows only for East and West. North and south still elude me personally. Clouds wreck it all and seeing the north star at night is just stupid because, who will know where you are when daylight comes?
Geography is part of our supposed “history” curriculum in school. I even remember taking History and Geography as a single course each year in high school. It would appear that I must have been absent on the day the Geography lesson occurred each semester. I continue to have to look up every country I am going to to locate it in relation to my “current location.” And some I have been to more than once. My most flagrant moment – which I have shared with very few, ever, was when I arrived for work in NJ. I was driving down through New York. I had lived in NY for about 2 years and still did not have a clear image of that state, but I did not need that information because I was rarely allowed out. I was in the convent at the time. So, back to the point, I arrived in Atlantic City, NJ. I commented out loud to my companion that it was interesting that I could smell the sea. “It might be because we are 2 blocks away from it” he replied. Fortunately I did not say aloud what I was simultaneously thinking. “I did not know that NJ was next to the sea!” My greatest fortune (among a few others,) is that I do not say aloud every single thing I am thinking. I know that will come as a surprise to some of you who believe that I have something to say about everything. Self-limitation is not my strong suit
So apparently there are many more like me in this ethnocentric sense of placement. In working with international teams, it has been pointed out to me that we are pretty much all alike in this. The USAtians, that is. We seem to feel that if it is not pertinent to our immediate “need-to know” function, we sure as hell don't need to know where it is.
So it is in this context that I will address “My 2 Liberia's.” I am, as I write this, en route to Non Ebola Liberia which I will refer to as NEL from now on to differentiate it from EL (Ebola Liberia).
EL (Ebola Liberia)
And if that is not pretty damned politically incorrect, I would be very surprised, but at least I know where each one is on the map. I am on my way to the vacation one to meet up with Peter.
We have not taken this kind of vacation for a long time. It is our 2d trip to Costa Rica – the last one being in 1994. It is by the standards of the Puritans and their cohort, a trip that is frivolous and purposeless. There of course the possibility that you may have moved yourself into a Be Here Now cult that counts relaxation and restoration as a very purposed and mindful activity. Lucky you! Peter, from the time I first met him in Tortola, (yes I really had to look it up!) has taught me all I know about this latter concept – purposeless and frivolous time out. I am eternally grateful to him. He is the yin to my yang. I am the purpose-driven sort. It is not amazing that I “do” things. The reality is that I am hard wired to DO things. The world has a place for people like me. I have had to work hard and learn about BEING. Whew! It has been exhausting. And now I am off to DO some non-doing stuff. I once studied some philosophy too. Being and Nothingness had its own following in the 70's.
When we were in Costa Rica in 1994, we were really impressed that everyone we met, regardless of age, had some “meaningful” thing they were doing. We were just hanging around in between bus trips and jungles and beaches. Even Peter began to feel the weight of 'nothingness.' We finally started making shit up. First we said we were doing 'a study.' That was a sinker, because people would ask what it was. People everywhere in Costa Rica at that time, were collecting animal and plant samples, developing eco-friendly resources and guiding communities to self-sustaining projects. We were researching what those things meant. We found that what we could say, rather quickly, was that we were working on a project and just as quickly ask them if they wanted to go for a beer. In either case, distraction was in our favor. The beer would be something they rarely took time for or could afford. In the walk to the cantina, we could distract them to some other subject – mostly their own story which they did not get much chance to tell and were happy to do so for us. The intrepid ambassadors of “feel good” were on! And everyone got a beer out of it.
Being back in that country, at this point, we will hit the single part of the country that we did not visit in that 2 month trip back then. We will take 2 weeks in the NW part of the country's interior and then head to the coast to see Lia for the last week. I feel sand in my toes as I speak. I smell Deet wafting up my nostrils and am longing for room temperature beer. Three weeks of the 'good life' are in view. In the meantime, even tho it is an “international flight” there are no free meals and not even peanuts. I have gummi bears in my bag, but some chips and salsa would be nice.
When we return, I will have a week of lag time and am already packing for the EL (Ebola Liberia.) I will be going back to West Africa to work with MSF (Doctors Without Borders) again – doing some form of work in Ebola. Peter will be keeping KPE alive and manning the work in Pipe Creek. I will keep you posted if you care to join me. For the next few posts, depending of course on location and WiFi access, you will find y thoughts coming from NEL and hopefully you can remember where it is.