Out of Liberia

Hi ya!

Yes I’m still alive and thinking about my blog and everyone who drops by to read it!! I can see that its still attracting readers even though my last post was in October, just after I left Liberia!

My goodbye cake was pretty delicious!

My goodbye cake was pretty delicious!

These photos were taken at my farewell from the mission in Liberia and when I look at the faces again, I know how much I miss my African brothers and sisters and all my colleagues. I served the section there for 4 days short of 4 years! I learned a lot and that is helping me in my new role in Cyprus. I know I gave a long speech that day, but what touched me during the farewell was how people spoke about my work. I can’t claim to have had a huge impact but I do hope that our staff in the county offices knew there was some hope of help in HQ when they needed it. In the end I think we had a good time at the farewell and there were plenty of jokes and laughter. Even though mission life is about transition and comings and goings, hellos and goodbyes, the lessons and memories of time with good friends can be taken with you wherever you go. Everyone contributes into my life and I hope I contributed into others lives too. I certainly do miss my friends from Liberia and I thank them for expanding my life experience.

There always has to be a group photo!

There always has to be a group photo!

The medal cum reward for my service! Handshake with the Chief!

The medal cum reward for my service! Handshake with the Chief!

There’s absolutely no way to compare Liberia and Cyprus! But the UN is the UN whatever peace-keeping mission you’re in and so the adventures continue in a new setting with new challenges and new colleagues.

As for this blog. I will continue to talk about Liberia but I’ll expand it to include photos and stories of my travel throughout the African continent. I still have 10,000+ photos that need to edited and shared!!!

Another birthday, another chance to reset my direction

I’m in a reflective mood brought on by the fact that its my birthday! So allow me to ramble a little as I sit in Addis Ababa looking out over a green flowery garden, listening to the birds twitter. This is paradise for me at the moment, because it is beautiful and because it is not Monrovia. I have to admit that my main objective seems to be to ensure that the 19th June is not spent in Liberia! My first birthday since working in Liberia (2009) I flew back to Australia to escape, in 2010 I went to Senegal, 2011 to Durban RSA, and this year to Ethiopia! That’s a fun way to remember my birthdays! I wonder where I’ll celebrate next year! But, beyond the surface, I really like to get out of Liberia so that I can reset my thinking and direction.

I think when milestones come along, they should be celebrated – marked in a special way.  The birthday date serves as a marker and a milestone. Another year has passed by and what have I done with it? What do I want to see happen for the coming 12 months? At the moment, a big part of me would love to settle into a comfortable life in Liberia with good friends, a comfy house, and some semblance of normalcy – that is very attractive! It could almost be possible. Another part of me wants to see how far I can stretch the limits of my abilities and how much I can contribute to this planet. Its a dilemma to balance these two conflicting desires because I don’t know how to blend them together. I hope it is possible to push ahead with the career motivations but within a network of loving, supportive friends who encourage and give you the courage to give your best. I doubt that this international life will ever be normal, but I can see from my friend in Addis, that there are ways to create a loving, exciting, and challenging lifestyle within the constraints of the abnormal settings where we are temporarily located. That may not make sense to many readers, but its very real to me! I want to shake up my pathetic career and I want to live a more connected and real life with loving friends. It will be interesting to see how far I’ve moved towards that by June 19th, 2013!

Love ya!

PostAWeek2011 – what it meant for me

There are times when I think that attempting to blog in a country with minimal and erratic internet speed and service is just a recipe for frustration. I started this blog 3 years ago when I came to Liberia with the high ambition of having an avenue to share my impressions and images with my friends and anyone who might be interested. For the first 2 years I struggled! Either I was too busy or the internet was too slow to upload anything. So from its Sept 2008 birth, at the pathetic rate of about one post a month, I kept my blog alive but barely!

Then came the PostAWeek challenge and a faster ISP in Monrovia (I use LibTelCo). I remembered my original goal! My imagination was fired up again! There were possibilities and they could be achieved or so I believed!

Therefore I proudly declare that in 2011 I added 55 posts to my blog! I achieved my goal. Okay, I admit the December frenzy of (10) posts helped me get there, but I really wasn’t that far off my target even without that blitz. That makes an average of one post a week – a few ranks improved from pathetic!!

As for the readership, oddly enough the number of visits to the site in 2011 was double the total visits for the previous two years! Go figure! The more active you are, the more visits your site receives! The more your post, the more readers!  Thanks to the challenge, my blog is alive and healthy and getting closer to becoming the type of site I imagined from the beginning.

It is good to have an end of year review and recognise the milestones and achievements. I feel encouraged by what I have accomplished because I admit that it has not been easy especially under the ISP conditions I live with. But it is worth it. I have enjoyed reading other people’s blogs and have even started to subscribe to a few myself. I find myself drawn increasingly into the WordPress world.

So what is my blogging plan for 2012? More of the same, but with a few changes. I might remove some of the pages that I enthusiastically added in order to write about my safaris. With my constant time-crisis, I simply cannot work on them. I will also try to do the weekly photography challenge, just for fun. But mainly I will continue to share small snap-shots of life in Liberia as I experience it and I’ll write about my holidays when they happen. For as long as the internet gods bless me with sufficient internet speed, I will continue!  

Having said that, dear subscribers whose inboxes have suffered from my recent blogging blitz, I will now return to a more intermittent posting schedule because I am going on holidays! If you are lucky I won’t think or write about Liberia until sometime in February!! Happy New Year, happy holidays, and thanks for reading! 

 

2011: Every holiday was a safari!

Well I must say that the true genius of 2011 was my holiday planning!! On that score the year rocked! If anyone questions my planning and organising skills, I’ll just point them to my awesomely planned holiday schedule!! Aside from my annual journey down-under, in 2011 every holiday was a safari!!

I won’t gloat too much, but 2011 allowed me to enjoy safaris in 3 national parks in South Africa, plus a sublime month-long safari which took us through Botswana, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania/Zanzibar!! I simply haven’t had time to edit the 15,000+ photos I took in that month!! What a blast that was…2011 was the ‘year of the safari!’

So, allow me to indulge in a few safari references to illustrate the year that was.

The 6 am rises for the morning game-drives quickly settle into the ‘safari rhythm’ and you start to appreciate the momentum of the morning dawn experienced while bumping across the savannah and the sundowners enjoyed to the fading light of the sunset. [2011 was my 3rd year in Liberia and life had developed a largely dull and unchallenging routine. I can’t say that I like it much, but I am grateful to be here and there are some enticing opportunities emerging on the horizon.]

The anticipation of the chase and the kill are definitely high adrenelin moments of any safari. You have to be alert and ready because even though the hunt can take time, the kill can be over in seconds. But after the kill, you do think of the victim – the sweet baby antelope that just happened to become the leopard’s dinner. [There were moments in 2011, when I felt like I was being hunted by a pack of nasties trying (and failing) to make me their victim! Lesson: stay alert and don’t become anyone’s ‘kill’!]

 

 

 

 

 

The safari experience is best enjoyed with like-minded friends and/or photography buffs. Sharing the vehicle with restless bores is definitely excruciating and I find I don’t have patience any more for difficult and complex people in my social life!  [In 2011, more friends left my social circle than entered it so I have ended up in a deficit of like-minded people around me…except that my new friends are outside my work-life and they’re pretty cool!]

Open spaces, rare opportunities, and splendid skies. Safaris always restore my sense that it is great to be alive and moving in god’s creation, spotting rare wild creatures under an enormous blue canvas sky. [Even though Liberia’s skies are often hazy and grey the wet season can bring some spectacular thunderstorms, enormous clouds, and beautiful sunsets. Whatever the weather, I am grateful to be here: alive, exploring, and ready for more!]

I hope that 2011 was a splendid journey for all my friends and readers.

I wish that 2012 will be a superb safari for you all!

A year of adventure, unexpected surprises, natural beauty, 

and wild possibilities!!!

Life is a safari!

A small goal and a small reward!

The end of the year is almost here so I think I’ll set a small goal to finish 2011 with a flurry of blogging bliss! I started this blog page back in Nov 2008 and yet I have only posted 81 posts  – yep, i’ve gone to print only 81 times in those 40 months. That’s a pretty sad effort really but its mainly been due to my time limitations and internet deprivation. Now that I have an ISP that allows access to wordpress in proper formatting in the luxury of my own house – I will try to attain 100 posts before I catch my scheduled plane out of here. That is possible if I post everyday and twice on Sundays 🙂 (well almost!)

They say that having a reward is a useful incentive when setting goals and milestones. This is definitely not on the menu in any restaurant anywhere in Monrovia, Liberia, and quite possibly not in West Africa!! It will be my reward upon arrival at my destination. 🙂 I don’t know what connexion there is between blogging and pasties, but it won’t stop me enjoying the challenge and the reward.

On safari

I have just returned from a month on safari!! The recent posts of life in Liberia were prepared before I left Monrovia and have been posted from east Africa thanks to the luxury of fast internet service provision! I wanted to get something on the board for September.

Safari? Yes indeed. We enjoyed the beauty of the Okavango Delta in Botswana; Vic Falls and South Luanga Park in Zambia; Serian Camp in the Mara North Conservancy, Kenya; the mountain gorillas in Rwanda; and then chilled out on the beach in Zanzibar, Tanzania. If you include the 1 day in Zimbabwe then we covered 6 countries in 30 days of wonderful safari bliss seeing the best of African nature and wildlife. What a privilege!

If you have never had the opportunity to go on safari then its very hard to explain the experience, but it is a unique way to spend a holiday. You quickly get into a routine of 5am wake-up calls, early morning game drives, cups of tea sipped in the savannah, afternoon naps, afternoon game drives, sun-downers under the savannah sunset, shared dinners and excited conversations before collapsing in bed thrilled and anticipating more of the same the next day. In the midst of the tea breaks, there is always a sense of anticipation when on a game drive. You never know what you will find around the next corner – wildlife viewing is fascinating and unpredictable. Even in the moments when there are no animals to be seen, there is no boredom because you can breathe in the fresh air, absorb the beautiful landscape and the vastness of the open spaces and blue skies. On top of that, if you love photography you will be in heaven as a safari gives so many photo opportunities. I took close to 16,000 photos in 30 days, so now I’m set to constructively pass my spare time for the next months!

My main mental challenge now is to manage the post-safari blues that have hit me since my return to Monrovia. 😦   I will do that by concentrating on photo editing! Rather than get sucked into commenting on the election dramas underway in Liberia (Tuesday is the day for ‘da voting business’) I can write about ‘my brilliant safari’ and share the best photos in future blogs (ISP gods allowing).

By the way, I passed another milestone recently. 28 September marked my 3 years in Liberia! The only thing I’ll say about that is that it feels like its time to make a ‘go forward’ plan.

second milestone

28 sept.

2 years of livin”nliberia! who would’ve thought i’d be here so long and come to accept it as normal? when i landed in monrovia and bumped along in that shuttle bus for 2 hours on a crap road from RIA to Monrovia ‘city’ (pre-road-repair) i wondered where the hell i’d landed. wot a spin-out. then i was met by old friends and we drove further out to riverview compound – an outlying oasis of tranquility – and on the journey they tied to fill my jet-lagged brain with all the ‘u need to know’ details of livin”nliberia. that added to my spinning sensation!

my 1st year here was lousy. i swear they were testing me. hell, wot crap, wot stress, wot unnecessary bs! i swear i won! i learned african maths. i started to see the african patterns and problems and pose all the ‘why africa?’ questions…’why liberia?’ thankfully, now that i’ve passed my second milestone, i know i’ve got this thing sussed. i’ve been accepted. this place has become normal and i’m no longer in constant stress fighting stupid battles. that’s not to say that it mightn’t be a good time to move on…but if i can’t…if i’ve gotta stay here a while longer, i know i’ve got it into the ‘this is possible’ bag. that is worthy of a blog comment, even if it is a few weeks late.

livin”nliberia. yup. its not something to aspire to, (don’t make this your life goal)

but its an okay launch-pad for an adventurous period of this earthly life.

til next time!