29 May 2010

Our house, and wow! groceries are pricey

Here are a few pictures of the house that I didn't have time to upload last night.

The living room:
The dining room:

Our first visitor:


Today's grocery shopping was quite an adventure. It seems that Shop Rite has cornered the market here, and their house-brand stuff is everywhere. It's also insanely expensive. Really, everything is insanely expensive. We expected prices for brand name American stuff to be pretty high, but had figured that there would be cheap local alternatives. Not so much - while we didn't buy the $22 package of Charmin (seriously, $22) or the $14 Cheerios, we still managed to spend a ridiculous amount. I predict a lot of peanut butter sandwiches this summer.

28 May 2010

Monrovia!

After about 24 hours in transit, we made it to Monrovia very early this morning.

Our adventure started at JFK on Wednesday evening (picture courtesy of Storey):

The flight to Casablanca was uneventful, though it was really difficult to sleep, so we were completely wiped out by the time we got there. Thankfully, Royal Maroc Air (our new favorite airline) graciously put us up in a pretty swank hotel for our twelve hour layover. Though we’d planned a grand adventure in Casablanca for the day, we ended up sleeping and sticking our feet in the beautiful pool instead. We’ve got six hours on the way to Cairo at the end of the summer and we have promised to make the most of Morocco then.


After a little misunderstanding about exactly which timezone we had landed in, we rushed back to the airport thinking we were about to miss our flight. Thankfully, we’d also misunderstood when we were leaving, so we ended up having plenty of time to make our flight. On the flight, I got to see my first African sunset:

Near the end, we saw the amazing outline of Bamako (in flight picture attempt was a massive failure). Once we dropped below the cloud cover on our approach into Monrovia, it was pitch black and then the Liberia coastline suddenly appeared in a really spectacular view. Stepping off the plane, we were hit with a wall of sticky heat, and it’s been unrelenting since.

On the way from the airport, Amy and I marveled at the incredible road (newly paved by the Chinese government, we’ve been told), which was better than Highway 99 by a long shot. We got to our apartment after one, and made a slapdash and sweaty attempt at putting up our bug nets. Not pretty, but they worked(ish). Once Molly arrives we’ll have her show us the right way to do it.


All our stuff arrived in more or less fine shape, save a few toiletry mishaps. Let’s just say, if you have extra Ziploc bags, you should double up. Or maybe triple up. Intercontinental travel is not the time to scrimp on such things.

Our apartment is great and much cushier than I’d imagined. We’ve got TV and air conditioning, neither of which we have in Princeton. Given our limited channel selection and the fact that most topics I like to discuss are somewhat off the table here, Amy and I have decided that we will use our newfound ESPN access to learn everything there is to learn about the World Cup. Consider yourself warned – we will be soccer geniuses by the end of the summer.

Tomorrow's adventure: grocery shopping. We've been told the prices will make us cry (I got the impression that they will not be tears of joy).

25 May 2010

Fun with photos

Nothing to report yet, but wanted to make sure I could post photos of an appropriate size and quality before I left my IT support on a different continent. Let me know if this is taking an inordinately long time to load or is otherwise funky. Also, I can't believe I'm leaving Storey behind for the first 10 weeks. This is going to be rough.

And now for more photos, this time of the packing madness:




And one of the cat, adorable, but decidedly un-psyched about the packing that is taking over the entire apartment.

18 May 2010

Obligatory "Yay I just set up my blog" post

Welcome to my summer blog...
I'll start with the warning that I'm not sure how frequently I'll be able to update. Between my general failure at blog maintenance and the questionable reliability of Monrovia's power and internet services, this may be a very sporadic enterprise.

But that's boring. Let me set the stage a bit better. I'm moving to Monrovia, Liberia for the summer. I'll be working as an intern with the federal government of Liberia, specifically focused on the reconstruction of local government capacity. I'll be there with three of my classmates from Princeton, and will be living with two of them in Sinkor, Monrovia.

On 26 May (have I mentioned that one thing about international work which makes me super happy is the ability to switch back to correctly ordered dates?), my friend Amy and I are flying from JFK to Monrovia. We've got a 12 hour layover in Casablanca, Morocco and are planning to make the most of it with a quick tour around the city. We'll arrive in Monrovia first thing on the morning of 28 May, and we'll see where things go from there...