As I've mentioned before, I'm currently not staying near the hospital, but am staying closer to the capitol so that I can chase down the letters I need to for the coming medical team. I need five of them (letters that is). The first letter I need is pretty important because it gets the ball rolling and I can't do anything without that first letter.
I requested the letter before I went home in November, hoping that it would be sitting here waiting for me when I got back. Oh, silly Emily. When I got back and realized I didn't have the letter yet, I had my friend ( a Sierra Leonean who helps with the teams when they come) get on the phone and see what he could find out. We ended up sending two people to the area to get the letter....but with no success. I am absolutely NOT saying this was the case, but it appears he may have been holding out for a bribe. Well, I decided I'd head over there (about a 4 hour drive) myself to find out what the hold up was.
Some of you who know me, have travelled with me.....or really even just ridden around my home town with me, may know that I was born with an unfortunate lack of a sense of direction. Literally. Zero. I still get turned around and slightly lost in the town I've lived in for 15 years. And it is NOT a big town. One of my biggest (and probably most realistic) fears about living over her is taking a left at the "that one village there" when I should have taken a right and ending up in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception, no fuel, no water, and a full bladder. Nightmare!
Since I try to live by the "safety first" motto (besides moving to a third world country with bad water, little health care and lots of animals that want to kill you) I usually take someone along with me keep me from getting lost and to help me change any of those pesky flat tires. (Although I got new tires on our container and I literally get comments every time I drive my car about how "strong" my tires are). Thanks Aaron!!
I digress. The guy who came with me this time is someone I've known for awhile and has accompanied me on road trips before. It's always a hoot. The differences in culture often make it appear as though some of the Sierra Leoneans have no social filter but this guy...wow. Definitely no filter. He keeps me on my toes, but also makes for interesting road trips.
This guy's M.O. is that he asks a ton of questions.....and then makes strong statements. We'll sit in silence for a while and then all of the sudden you can tell exactly what track his mind is on by the questions he asks. Here are some of my favorite questions/comments of the trip.
"Emily, why didn't you get married while you were home in America?" (For the 2 months I was there)
"Emily, someone told me that if a woman is wearing a bracelet around her ankle, it means she's a lesbian. Is that true?"
"Emily, forgive me for using this language, but you are more beautiful than your father." Sorry Dad! He's not into you. :) I'm telling you, I'm way better looking over here. The marriage proposals from the street make me think that my American passport is a nice accessory.
"Emily, is it true that you cannot relieve yourself (urinate) on the street in America?"
"Emily, sometimes when I've worked with Americans, I will be with them for four, maybe five hours and they never urinate. Do you all take drugs for that?"
"Emily, is it true that if you have an earring in your nose, it means you're a prostitute? (Me: No. I really wanted to get my nose pierced a few years ago.) Him: I would not talk to you if you had your nose pierced. I mean, I would greet you, but I wouldn't really talk to you. (Me: Ouch)
"Emily, if you have children in Sierra Leone would you breastfeed them the way our women do?" (For those of you who haven't been here....let's just say that there is no battle over breastfeeding in public here. It's a free for all (Me: Er, um, eh....?)
Anyway, those are just a few snippets of the 8 hours in my car. :) Incidentally we got the letter we were after so....win win!