On Sunday, February 8, at noon when we crossed the Nuon River separating La Glorious Côte d’Ivoire from Liberia, I was so relieved to be back in friendly territory again. The Ivoirien gendarmes even offered me a drink of water, which reaffirmed my opinion that RCI is the best place on Earth to be. Our stay in Monrovia became more hectic during our last week and a half there for two reasons. I became sick, and David made a good Liberian friend who took him places. So while I was languishing in bed, David was out roaming the city, changing taxis like a pro, and meeting many new friends. My sickness began with an infected ear from swimming in the ocean each day.

David and I made a ritual of going to the beach late each afternoon, despite the locals’ warnings that the current was dangerous. It was the safest and cleanest water I’ve been in on the coast of West Africa. David and I had been investi-gating the possibility of returning to RCI by boat; as small fishing vessels traveled south along the coast all the time. When we found someone who offered us the ride and dis-cussed the price, we were pleased. The man stated that for $3,000 he could take us to Harper, which was about an hour from the RCI border. This was good because we had fig-ured we could pay US$40 each, which was about L$1,750. Just before the deal was clinched, with us planning to leave the next day, we realized the man meant US$3,000! Wow! How far can you fly with that much money? Our heads reeled that the Liberians thought we had that much to spend on a measly boat ride!

When my infected ear started a fever that rose to over 104ºF for several days, we realized that the infection was more serious. A consultation with the American Embassy’s nurse recommended a doctor at the public hospital in Monrovia. This doctor ordered a chest x-ray which confirmed a lung infection and prescribed intravenous antibiotics right away. David and I weren’t happy with the doctor’s haphazard way of dealing with me, and we were worried by several disturb-ing symptoms that he didn’t address. I was now vomiting violently, even when I didn’t have anything in my stomach. We didn’t follow up on the doctor’s advice and the Embassy nurse came around to talk to me, concerned. She recom-mended that I check into the Catholic Hospital, where she assured me the care would be the best possible in Monrovia.

The following morning I was admitted to the emergency room and put on an IV. Blood test and the x-rays confirmed bronchial pneumonia on top of dehydration which led to partial kidney failure, hence the vomiting. We had gotten to hospital just in time. I stayed there for four nights, con-stantly on IV, which chained me to the bed, but I wasn’t wanting to move around much anyway. I was placed in a private room so David spent the nights with me, and the care was more than adequate though my drip kept stopping. They had to put restart it four times; once in the middle of the night they couldn’t locate any suitable veins and I was punctured three times before the nurse gave up to leave it until morning shift arrived.

Just before I became sick, David and I met a Liberian named Gus at ACFI, and I was pleased to speak French to someone again. He had been living in Senegal for several years, and spoke it fluently. David was pleased to speak English with someone as the Liberian English can hardly be called that. Gus has spent a lot of time around Americans and his dicta-tion was exceptional. Plus, he understood our ways of think-ing, so we were glad to talk to him about issues that we saw the Liberians facing each day. Gus is an exceptional man.