Monday, December 03, 2007

ReedsNews Update: December Edition

Weather: Sunday night saw the most rain seen in a month. A thunderstorm brought first two hours of very heavy rain followed b y eight hours of light rain. About four inches of rain total. Otherwise hazy, hot and humid most days. Last year, we received virtually no rain from November 20 until March, so the occasional rain may indicate a wetter dry season. But of course, I have no idea. Now, some news:

Item: The Christmas season is here, and that means mostly two things: frantic, pressured shopping and rogues breaking into more homes looking for holiday booty. Vera, who helps us with laundry and weekday dinners, had some guys break her door in the early morning hours Friday. She called out and the rogues fled without taking anything.

Item: Renita’s left arm is in a sling and may stay that way for some time. She has what some people call “tennis elbow,” or an inflammation of the tendons around her elbow. Being left-handed, this has really cramped her style, and not being able to help as much is frustrating for her. But she’s sometimes in lot of pain, so she’s taking it seriously.

Item: We had an uninvited visitor Friday, a four foot long black cobra found its way into our yard and casually made its way across our lawn. Actually, there are three venomous black snakes that inhabit Liberia, the black mamba, the black spitting cobra, and the black tree cobra. Vera and Noah both thought they saw a hood, so this is why we thought cobra. The spitters are more likely to be in area, so that's the one we think it was. These are some of the deadliest snakes in the world, so naturally everyone became very excited. I was at a conference, so I could not join in the adventure. Apparently, there was enough human activity that the snake decided to leave the way it came. So just as some neighbors showed up with their cutlasses—all snakes are killed here on sight—the snake escaped. We discovered how it got in and plugged the hole in our wall with cement.

Item: The conference I attended while the cobra was in our yard was hosted by the World Health Organization. It was on substance abuse in Liberia. As I already suspected, substance abuse is at near epidemic levels, with both alcohol and marijuana at the top of the list. Both are very cheap here—a shot of strong liquor or a marijuana cigarette cost about ten US cents—and both are readily available.

Item: “O’ Henrietta, we hardly knew ye… but you were delicious!” As planned, we bid farewell to the pig our friends in Kakata gave us in the spring. Killing her was unpleasant but I felt an obligation to be there with her, so I helped hold her down while the deed was done. We invited many of our neighborhood friends for the pork roast the next day, and Henrietta supplied full bellies to about fifty folks. None of her was wasted except her hair, and Renita had me save the brain, heart and an eyeball to be dissected for science class the day after the festivities.

Renita, arm in sling. She has a rubber ball wrapped in the ace bandage that covers her forearm and elbow. This supplies additional support and counter pressure, which eases the pain.
The black spitting cobra, likely the type in our yard. Naja nigricollis woodi. Beautiful creature.

Now on to Henrietta. This was last Wednesday, as Rev Zar, Sam Befelon, Bernard the Butcher and I prepare an alarmed Henrietta for dispatch.

After the deed, Henrietta is cleaned of all hair, washed, then her innards are removed. Rev Zar was thrilled to take all the innards home for a "fine pepper soup" for his very large family.

After a night in our refrigerator, we roast her on a home made cooker. Here, after roasting for four hours, we are turning her over. She got a bit burned at first, but just on the surface.

Alex, secretary of FACT, cuts off some meat as some of the fifty guests that came that day enjoy Henrietta.