Monday, September 01, 2008

The Reeds on Three Continents

A Tale of Three Cities

Monday morning finds our family as spread out as far as we ever hope to be, although our kids aren’t even grown yet and then who knows what they’ll do. By Wednesday, after being separated for three months, and after me being out of Liberia for four weeks, we’ll finally be altogether in our West African home.

Just where are we anyway? We are hanging out in very different places, different cities, and the contrasts are worth enjoying . Let’s do some comparing and contrasting of this triumvirate of metropoli.

Renita— Monrovia Liberia, founded in 1822
Population: about a million. Located on the west coast of Africa. The Capital of Liberia. City best known for: Humidity, getting along without running water, sanitation, or electricity for sixteen years. Contributions to world culture: the handshake w/ finger snap.
Monrovia in History: First woman African head of state ever elected, 2005. Most famous landmark: The gutted Masonic Temple. Staple foods: rice, cassava. Favorite dishes: palm butter, cassava greens, fish, chicken, red oil-- really, anything.

The Masonic Temple. Former mecca of all the Liberian Presidents, now home for displaced squatters.

Liberian kids eating in the traditional group style. Looks like yellow peas. Where's the rice?

Bob-- Brussels Belgium founded 979
Population: about a million. Located in central Belgium. The Capital of Belgium. City best known as capital and economic hub of the European Union. Also HQ of NATO. Contribution to world culture: the French Fry, waffles, Brussel sprouts. Brussels in History: King Leopold II, father of the catastrophic African colonial movement. Most
Famous Landmark: the “Manneken Pis” or “Little Man Pee Pee” Staple foods: Beer, potatoes and bread. Favorite Dishes: Rabbit in Geuze (A sour beer), Stoemp, (potatoes mashed w/ vegetables, served w/ sausage) Chocolate desserts, pralines.

Stoemp with sausage, a Brussels classic. You mean I don't have to share?
The lil' guy has been standing here, peeing, for four hundred years.

Sometimes they dress him. Now he looks a guy on the side of the road in Liberia. Small world.

Hannah and Noah-- Grand Rapid Michigan USA
Founded officially 1850
Population: About 200,000. Located in Western Michigan, Great Lakes region of USA. City best known for: its wealthy conservative Republican Christians, its liberal use of mulch, well maintained, clean curbs. Contribution to world culture: The furniture catalog, the Bissel carpet sweeper, Amway products. Grand Rapids in History: Long ago known world-wide for furniture—aka “the Paris of furniture design.
Most Famous Landmark: The Calder Sculpture. Staple Foods: Potatoes and spaghetti, ground beef. Favorite dishes: Kraft Mac and cheese (with ground beef), Spaghetti w/ Chunky Prego and Ground Beef, Chips n’ melted Velveeta cheese (w/ Ground Beef n’ Chi-Chi’s Salsa), pizza, hamburgers—really, anythin. Except Brussel sprouts.

The Famous Calder.The Original Famous Calder.
Oh Velveeta! Oh Chi-Chi's Salsa! And don't forget that ground beef! One of Grand Rapid's many special dishes.