Returning to Liberia

I returned to Liberia for the third time last week, but this time was somehow different. I had worked here back in 2004, and returned in June of this year to undertake field research for my MA. Leaving in 2004, I was certain that I would be back, but I never thought it would take me nearly 3 years to get here. Landing at Roberts Airport in June was such a mixture of emotions – exhaustion from the trip, elation to be back, excitement to see how Monrovia had changed, and something I just couldn’t put my finger on. I remember breathing deeply, taking in the scent of sea, smoke and rain that had made its way into my subconscious as the embodiment of Liberia. It was great to be back.

Arriving here last week, as I said, was slightly different. No longer was the city an unknown – I felt like I was walking back into my life which had been on hold for a few months. It was also a bit scarier – this time I was here to stay, which brings with it all the anxieties of moving to a new city anywhere. Will I find a job that I’m happy with? Will I find people I connect with, make friends easily? What kind of social life will I have? Will I be able to find everything I need? Especially troubling in a transient field like development, will anyone I knew before still be here? Will things have changed drastically?

I have been here nearly two weeks, and in many ways I still feel like my Liberian life hasn’t begun. It has been an amazingly relaxing time – something I don’t usually do well. But until I find a job and start making friends, it somehow doesn’t seem real, like I’m really setting up shop here. But for now I am enjoying the little things – getting into a routine, going to the gym down the street, making dinner and even watching tv. Little domestic things I haven’t done in a long time. Trying to just take things slow and not worry too much about the future, enjoying my down time now while I have it. I’m sure the ‘adventure’ will begin soon enough!

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