after my complaining about having a houseguest (who is a marvellous cook, i do admit), i will be spending the next week on my own in the big city of monrovia.
truth be told, i wish i was also heading out to the field to see more of the country, but instead i will be making the most of my time. i have found a few shops that i want to check out: afropolitan and Jola House Creations and i'd like to take a trip to waterfront market to buy some lapas, but am a bit nervous to go alone partly because i have no idea how much anything should cost and partly because i envision it being a cacophonous and seemingly chaotic place. i could be entirely wrong, but may enlist mary's help to navigate it.
one of the challenges to life in monrovia for me is that there are few options for transportation and i feel as though i can't be as independent as i'd like. we don't have a car, although i recently learned that we could have one if someone had renewed his license (and knew how to drive standard...). the yellow shared taxis that ply the roads are seemingly ubiquitous, but also come with a queue of people ready to fight their way to squeeze into the car doors and i'm not sure how exactly payment or the system works, which will cause me quite a bit of stress.
there are the motorcycle taxis, driven by young men often with a version of trendy (and sometimes lens-less) sunglasses regardless of the time of day. the un security briefing includes a prohibition against using these, but we tried them out on the weekend and i must admit that it was a much more pleasant way to come home after a day in the city than being stuck to the synthetic seats of a dilapidated taxi. very breezy and rather exhilarating, if not a bit dangerous.
the typical mode of transportation i use is a car service operated by 5 guys. their cars are not always so reliable, as we found out while we were stuck for an hour this past weekend, but they are very friendly and a great resource about all things liberian. they tend to be available when you call, but it means that you have to hire them for short journeys or by the hour. and when i am in a shop knowing someone is waiting for me, i can't help but rush through my shopping. i think that this is something that i will just have to get used to otherwise i will spend the next few months rushing about and worrying about how long i am taking. the other downside is that if you just want to wander about and catch a taxi home, you can't. i either plan a pick up time or location or call them and hope they are free to collect me when i'm ready.
after my week of living like a bachelorette again, i will be packing my own bags to head to dar es salaam, tanzania to celebrate christmas on the other coast of africa. let the countdown begin!