Last night I hosted a Christmas Party Open House. About 32 people came; including the Ambassador! She was the first one to arrive, which was quite unnerving. She is very gracious and commented on how lovely and Christmas-y the house looked. I got her a glass of white wine and anxiously awaited the arrival of more guests. The house filled up nicely. I had hired a cook to make the appetizers, but I made all of the Christmas cookies; spritz, peanut blossoms, strawberry bon bons, Russian tea cakes, and chocolate chip cookies. I also hired two girls to hostess. There was a nice mix of people from all over the world. A couple of things happened that I wanted to share with you.
When the maid/hostess first arrived, the light bulb went out in the living room lamp. I gave her a new bulb and told her to change it out. Next thing I know, the bulb is shattered all over the floor. I got a new bulb and went over to help her. I found out she had only "placed" the bulb in the socket; she had not screwed it in....which is why it fell out and shattered all over the floor. As I was screwing it in, I happen to ask her: "Do you have any lights like this in your house?" She said no. It dawned on me that she probably does not have electricity and certainly does not have anything with a light bulb in it. She looked at me like she had never even seen a light bulb before. in her life. I couldn't believe it! She works at the US Embassy as a cleaning girl. Imagine a world where you have never seen a light bulb.
I sat down with my friends from Lebanon and one of them had his wife arrive a couple of days ago from Beirut. This friend happens to have a pet money, Chico, tied to a tree in his backyard. I have been around this monkey a few times and he seemed harmless, although the idea of tying a wild animal to a tree depresses me greatly. So, when the wife arrived at the house, the monkey attacked her and she has bites and wounds all over her arms and legs. She described her ordeal and it seemed as the monkey was biting her, she could not move because the teeth were so far in her that it would tear her skin more to have struggled. It must have been terrifying! I thought to myself, when was the last time I was at a Christmas party discussing a monkey attack with an actual victim? Welcome to Africa.
As I said, the party included a nice mix of people. I invited people close to me and people I appreciate, so the party included the following: The US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, my boss (the second in command), colleagues from work, an attorney for the Special Court of Sierra Leone (who is from Ukraine), my friends from Lebanon and Egypt who are diamond dealers and land developers respectively, my cleaning lady, Mary and her husband...who I'm sure thought they were at a Hollywood party, (I bet they don't have electricity either, as she once asked me how to operate my vacuum cleaner, remember?) my other friends from Lebanon who have friends who work for non-profits here in Freetown, the outgoing and the incoming "high level security forces" in the US government, a couple of people from IMATT (International Military), an international journalist from Canada, a visiting woman named Sarah who started a company called "Brighter Tomorrow for Africa," and Hank and his wife Lisa; Hank is an accomplished singer/songwriter/ musician from Texas. Hank played his guitar and sang for us to close out the evening. I had a wonderful time and I think all my guests really enjoyed it too.
So far, I love this job!