Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Balancing Act

In case you don't know, Liberians can carry anything [see photo below] on their heads. I am always amazed at what women can carry on their heads--they gracefully walk and turn their head from side to side without using their hands and without their load even wobbling. I understand, it frees up their hands. I can't get over the weight of the loads sometimes either--a 5-gallon tin of oil or water...which I can hardly carry in my hands. Grace. Balance. Strong Necks!

Last week, Ma Mary and I bought 2 cases (6 tins each...33lbs. of milk, plus the weight of 6 metal canisters) of milk in Red Light. Ma Mary had the man put the case on her head, and without blinking, told the man to put the second case on my head. Now, when I first came to Liberia, I went with the motto: "When in Liberia, do as Liberians do", so I ended up carrying cement blocks on my head. After about 6 blocks, I got yelled at: "Put the block down. Your neck and head are not used to the weight. Your head can be hurting." I think that might have been the last time I carried anything on my head. So, as I was walking through Red Light with the milk on my head [and as everyone was commenting on the 'wha womah wit da low on her heah'], I couldn't look from side to side, and after about 20 steps I could feel my neck straining. And I was using my hands! Phew! Anyway, the point of all of this is to be able to show you this fabulous picture from the other day. I pulled out of my gate, and this is what was passing by:
[Woman on the right--an average Liberian load. Woman on the left--never seen anything like it. Yes, it's a toilet! And yes, the women aren't using their hands!]

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