Getting from there to here

What a freakin’ saga getting 22 hand-made baskets from
the interior of Sierra Leone to the coast so they can
be mailed to us. We sent money for the baskets to be
shipped last Feb., but could not contact the person to
let them know the money was waiting for them and to
give them the refenence number for getting the money
out (via Money Gram).

Finally, one of the brothers of our friends there
returned from college in Ghana, went to Kono, got the
baskets, and returned with them to Freetown, where he
shipped them. I am able to intermittenly contact him
by email, which is such an advancement in technology
over even cellphones. He gave me a quote for sending
the baskets, and I sent him the money to do it. He
had a miscommunication with his brother who got the
quotes, and only got a quote for shipping half the
baskets! Luckily, I’d added money in for him for his
lorry ride to Kono and back and for his assistance,
and this covered the basket shipping.

The Post Office there said it would be here in 2 weeks
– 2 weeks?!? I’ll believe that when I see it. I’ll
believe we’ll even GET the baskets, period, when I see
it! Anyway, we’ll hopefully get them in time for
Christmas so we can sell them again with our friends,
and maybe even get a system worked out for the future.
It’s amazing how fast part of the world is moving,
and yet how slow other parts are in just trying to
keep up to stay behind.

I remember having an arguement when I took a job in
the S. Carolina bible belt. My contention that the
world of religious politics was stupid because 99% of
people don’t choose their religion any more than their
skin color- your religion is determined by who you
were born to, and little else, so why do we fight over
which one is “right”. Likewise, we like to tout
ourselves in the U.S. as somehow deserving of the
prosperity and standard of living we’ve “earned”, when
really, 99% of that, too, is determined by where we’re

If I was born in Sierra Leone, it’s a fat chance I
could ever achieve even a semblence of our standard of
living we enjoy here in Alaska. If I worked twice as
hard, all the money I made would have no value outside
of my country (maybe I could use it in Guinea or
Liberia, but that’s it. You can change dollars to
Leones, but not Leones to dollars – no one wants
them). Then, as MONTHLY inflation is in the double
digits, I’d need to spend my money as fast as I could
and turn it into some sort of goods because my 10
dollars this month would be worth only 9 dollars next
month and 8 dollars the month after. You can’t save
for “retirement” or a “rainy day”. It’s always
pouring rain! Every dollar you earn is worth a
fraction of today’s worth tomorrow, so saving it is
the worst thing you can do. No one will sell you a
stock or bond with a leone. So, you do the best you
can, you live for today, and have as many kids as you
can because they – and not savings or assets – will
see you through your old age.

Here in the states, we like to think of ourselves as
somehow worthy of all we think we need to be happy by
buying ever growing consumables, but really, it’s just
the luck of the cosmic draw that are even able to
concieve of the properity we don’t appreciate here,
and “luck” that, unless you’ve been there, you aren’t
burdened by the first-hand knowledge of what’s it like
not to have been born here.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

Subscribe to Mark's blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.