Back at work

This week was a regular work week for me, but a couple days were shaved off it while I was in transit back to Nimba. It has been nice to get back to the normal schedule of Nimba life. None of the normal annoyances really bugged me because I was happy to be back “home”. I started looking forward to the second half of my time here and realized that because I took my break a little late, the second half is actually only 7 weeks or so. And it was a strange feeling indeed to imagine that that won’t be enough time to get everything done. When I got here, the 6 months seemed like an eternity, but once I figured out how to keep the trains running on time I realized how little time there is for new work. And how few months to get it done in.

One nice thing that is happening here is that the economy in Saclepea is booming. People told me this in my briefing, but it has been nice to see while I have been here. Lots of new stores have been opening, and people are finishing houses left and right, adding previously luxurious touches like paint and cement pillars. Also, there are a huge number of new wheelbarrows in town, which I assume means that the vendors are doing a brisk business and upgrading their place of work. Nathalie and I were talking about this today. I told her that it did seem that the people really have all gotten tired of starting wars all at the same time, like an epidemic burning out. She pointed out that Liberians are lucky, because they do not have anyone bringing war to them right now. In Congo, where she worked last, she said the people were equally tired of war, but neighboring countries were bringing new combatants to the border and across it, who are all ready to fight to get whatever their political leaders convince them the war is for. It doesn’t matter if the war virus has burned out in the local population. A new strain comes flooding in from the environment and the antibodies seeking peace are overwhelmed.

This is why the regional wars that slosh back and forth across borders in West Africa are so destructive. If there is a built-in peace drive in human society triggered by the privations of continual war, it is disabled by war brought by “others”, because human society has a very strong mechanism for mobilizing against a threat from an outsider. This is the same mechanism that is so well understood by politicians all around the world, and used to keep people in fear and voting for them. If you have ever looked very closely at the “War on Terror” you will find the same system at work. There is in fact a serious terrorism problem, but the War on Terror is not aimed at the problem, just at maintaining a continuous state of fear.

My garden has been eaten by mold again. The growing conditions here, which seem so favorable, actually make it very difficult to grow vegetables. Even with tropical sun it takes a long time for vegetables to mature. The competing organisms like weeds and mold, have all that time to wreak havoc. And the quiplu seeds I brought with me have no immunity to the local pests. I have not put very much effort into gardening, because at the beginning I was too busy, and now I feel overwhelmed by the aggressive competitors here.

I am beginning to make plans for Christmas and the rest of my life after Nimba. I will be in Geneva staying at a friend’s house. The only plan I have so far is a fabulous week of skiing in Switzerland, and eating lots and lots of cheese. I have plenty of new friends in Switzerland now, so I will also go to see some of my old Nimba family in their home towns. That will be pretty interesting. Eventually I will return to the States to see friends there, and maybe to head to Mexico to visit my parents. I use my Spanish from time to time here to translate, and it is clear I am losing it and need to go practice some.

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