Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I’ve developed this very awkward way of lighting my oven. I have a gas stove, but the lighter doesn’t work and the knob to control the amount of gas that comes from beneath the burner is broken… so inevitably the gas comes out full blast. My technique, therefore, has been to have a match ready, turn the gas on, duck beneath the level of the stove and toss the match towards the gas... hoping not to singe my hair/eyebrows/self.

One of my flat mates, an UNMIL military observer, laughed to no end as he witnessed me doing this.

After showing me a slightly safer stove top strategy (of placing the match on the burner, then starting the gas), he also taught me my new favorite phrase:

WAWA. WAWA stands for West Africa Wins Again - not the football frat, for all us Hopkins alums, or the chain convenience store for all those in living in the mid-Atlantic.

WAWA should be used to express the frustration that comes with the common inconveniences of life in Liberia (and neighboring states).

“For example,” he explained, “If, after the end of a long day working outside in the heat and humidity, you come home for a shower and the water’s been turned off, that’s a WAWA situation.”

Or, you come home all excited that you found fresh apples at the grocery store… but then you find a worm in three out of four of them.

Or, you pay 10 USD for a sandwich at a hotel restaurant (which would cost 3 USD anywhere else) just so you can use their Internet… but the moment you turn the computer on the power goes out.


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