11, 01, 2017
I know I’m late but Happy New Year! It’s been a while but I’m back.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I spent the last two weeks of 2016 in Liberia. Let me tell you, it was the best!
Though I was born in the US (Hollis, Queens, New York to be exact), both of my parents were born and raised in Liberia. Any first or second generation child will tell you that it’s sort of a rite of passage to go “back home” and visit the country that holds your culture and heritage. It’s been 25 years, but my rite of passage came in December. And it wasn’t just a special moment for me, but for my mother also who hadn’t been home in over 20 years.
In the months leading up to my departure everyone had been asking me about my emotions; was I nervous, excited, scared, anxious? I didn’t even have the opportunity to feel those feelings. I was busy finishing up work and school, making sure that I could truly enjoy my vacation responsibility-free, so there was no room for me to even think about my trip. December 17, 2016, the night before my 8 am flight, was when it all sank in. It finally hit me that I would be going to the place that has always been so close to my heart yet so far away.
It was pitch black and if it wasn’t for the loud thump once we hit the ground, I would not have known that we’d arrived. As the plane descended and the pilot announced that we were at our destination, all of the passengers applauded and cheered with excitement at the thought that they were finally home. The young lady sitting next to me just could not stop talking about how much she missed “this place.” To be honest, I didn’t feel the same level of excitement. I didn’t feel any excitement. I was actually nervous. I wanted to like Liberia and I wanted Liberia to like me. I felt like a school girl who just worked up enough courage to talk to her crush and is hoping it leads to something.
Once I stepped into RIA (Roberts International Airport), felt the humidity slap me in the face and waited as my mom went to search for our bags, I had a moment to take in everything. The noise, the people, the chaos, everything was familiar to me. Even though I was in a different country, nothing felt foreign. I instantly felt at home. In this moment I knew that there was nothing to be nervous about; I would not have a problem liking Liberia. Now, would Liberia like me? That was a whole other question.
I didn’t really have any plans for things to do. It was my mom who had the jam packed agenda. Before I left, one of my aunts gave me this piece of advice: “don’t have any expectations. Just be open. And be ready to take bath with lots of cold water” (she was totally right about the cold water by the way, but more on that later). I took her advice to heart and just wanted to experience all that Liberia had to offer—well experience what I could in two short weeks. While I looked forward to seeing family that I haven’t seen in a while and meeting those I’ve never met before, my only agenda was to fall in love with the beauty of Liberia.
And that I certainly did.
Throughout the 2 weeks I experienced beautiful beaches, met dignitaries, enjoyed the nightlife, got clothes (of course) and explored the land that my family, and myself, call home. I made new friends and I LOVED meeting my family.
The most beautiful memory of all was getting to experience my mother’s hometown with her (Harrisville, Grand Bassa for my Liberians who are wondering where she’s from). Quick background, my grandparents (my mother’s parents) died when she was very young. I don’t think she was even 2 years-old yet when they passed away. Obviously her nor I got a chance to experience who they were. During our trip, we took a moment to paint their grave. We visited the house she was born in (yes house, not hospital) and heard stories of my grandparents. I loved discovering new information with her. It meant the world for me to be able to do that with my mother.
Now, I had fun. But Liberia isn’t a developed country which means that I didn’t always live like I do in the States. There were many days of no running water, a few cold baths (which is more of a pro because it’s SO HOT) and moments without electricity honestly were not as bad as you may think. I actually didn’t mind it. Side note, no running water doesn’t mean I did not have water, just means it was in a bucket instead of flowing out of a faucet. There were definitely things that I disliked (way too many people in the city and horrible traffic), but it still won my heart.
To answer the question, does Liberia like me? Well, it has no choice because I’m going to keep coming back. That may have been my first trip but it certainly isn’t my last. On my way back I know I’ll be the ring leader of that roaring applause on the plane because there’s no place like home.
Check out the pictures from my trip! Or check out my video chatting about the experience.