Thursday, May 29, 2008

California Dreamin'

We went to the beach!  It reminded us of the movie "Castaway," the film where Tom Hanks is stranded on a deserted island with his friend Wilson, the soccer ball.  We could look both ways down this long, long stretch of perfect white sand, and there was not another soul to be seen!  Coming from California where we trip over people everywhere, even at the beaches (have you ever tried to reserve a campsite for Sunset Beach?), it was a rather impressive sight.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a great need for sand in Liberia.  Because of the increase of construction, large dump truck loads of sand are daily being hauled off the beach.  They have obviously not submitted an environmental impact study for this work.  They are carving out huge holes in the beach.  Not sure that is a good thing, but on the plus side, it is providing jobs for several men, as the large trucks are filled by hand.

As you look at our picture taken on the beach, you will be interested to know that "home" (California, of course) is only 7,000 miles behind us.

Monday, May 26, 2008

John, Paul, George, and Ringo (aka "The Beatles")

I saw the biggest, baddest, grossest beetle today!  It was at least 12 inches long!  It had fallen into a hole the gardeners had dug yesterday, but did not get around to planting the bush yet.  Not sure it is on their agenda for today, either...they seem to have a different agenda than do I.  Anyways, I went out this morning, innocent, refreshed, and full of happiness and goodwill toward all and I peeked into the hole to see what exactly the dirt looked like under the sand (it looks just like more sand!  amazing), and there was this monstrous beetle (at least 10 inches long).  It had long pincher thingies that looked like they could easily hurt someone.  (They can!  I asked a gardener.  He said, "You betcha, baby!" or something like that).

I screamed, as any good Dutch girl would do when faced with a beetle at least 8 inches long!  Dave sauntered out of the house, as he is not running any more when I scream, and was actually quite impressed with my large beetle (who was at least 6 inches long).  I checked with the two ladies here who have spent a lot of time in Africa and seen much more than I ever want to see, and they both had never seen a beetle of that size.  Which, strangely enough, made me feel somewhat better, as apparently there are not a jillion of them around the Rafiki compound.  Whew!  Thank goodness for that.

The gardeners told me that it came from the "bush" (I am assuming they mean the jungly-type vegetation surrounding the Village, and not some specialty plant which actually grows such large, gross beetles!) and it was probably attracted to the light on our front porch.  So you can be assured that I will not be answering a knock on my front door at night without first checking the peephole to may sure it is not a jumongous, big beetle.

Dave took a picture.  Do not worry.  No gardeners were injured in the taking of this picture!  It was attacked by ants while stuck in the hole and the ants killed it.  Man, I almost feel sorry for our 4-inch beetle, being attacked by ants like that.  (O.K., not really sorry; it WAS a huge, disgusting, mean, nasty beetle, for Pete's sake!)  and yes, it really, really was about 4-5 inches long!

That is the end of today's traumatic event.  Tomorrow, I will tell you about the lion...(just kidding!)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First Week in Liberia...

We are in Liberia, at the Rafiki Village about 45 minutes outside of downtown Monrovia.
We have experienced several downpours already, accompanied by severe thunder and lightning.  It dumps so much water that we can only guess 3-4 inches of rain in 2 1/2 hours.  The whole village is a huge puddle.  The next morning, it is all gone!  This is amazing to a couple of farmers from the California Central Valley, who are used to slogging around in mucky clay for days after the rain has stopped!

The Rafiki compound is a sand hill, which explains why the rain disappears so quickly.  There is little vegetation at this time;  mostly sand.  Some trees and bushes have been planted, but they are small yet.  Getting more plants growing is certainly one of our goals.  Roses and almond trees are out of the question, but we are keeping our eyes open for interesting trees and vegetation.  There are a couple of mango trees at the far end of Rafiki property that are huge and beautiful.  We may need more mango trees.  Also, spotted a tree in downtown Monrovia today called a...ok, I already forgot what it's name is...but it had huge glossy green leaves and fruit that supposedly is good to eat.  Obviously, I need to do more research!

The children are sweet.  Fourteen of them right now.  Yesterday, it was "Dress Up Day" for playtime.  Not surprising to me, the girls really got into this, with skirts and headdresses.  Several of the boys put on sunglasses and then proceeded to play race car driver.  Yes, like children everywhere, girls like to look pretty and boys want noise and speed!

We are well and adjusting to this part of the world that is all new to us.  Thanks for thinking about us and checking out the latest news from Liberia.