CORPS LIBERIA 1988 - 89.......
My time of service ended
two weeks before the civil war started in Liberia. These pictures
show a much happier time than the current situation in the county.
It is my hope that one day all the country's problems will be resolved
and the people dwelling there will enjoy, as a popular song called
it, "Sweet Liberia".
I remembered stepping off the plane and being hit by a blast
of hot air that I thought was from the jet engine. It wasn't.
The heat was unbearable -- and it wasn't even the hot season.
I took two showers a day. Later it went up to four.
Peace Corps experience is called "the toughest job
you'll ever love". It was certainly a mixture of a
lot of emotions. I'd say the first thing I felt was fear.
When we arrived, one of the Liberian instructors told me he could
tell I'd been around a while. I was so relaxed. I don't
think he correctly read the way I felt after the bus ride to the Peace
Corps training site in Klay.
We had an official
welcoming by some representatives of the Liberian government.
The ceremony was very formal and included the traditional African
presentation of kola nuts and a white chicken. And then, there
were the dancers. One, called a devil, looked something like
a walking haystack wearing a crown. Another dancer who looked
a little like a scarecrow danced around the devil. Neither were
as cute as the little boy who danced to welcome us.
I made several
trips from Klay to Monrovia. Once a taxi truck passed us but
it already looked full. The driver said there was plenty of
room, and we did all manage to squeeze in. One time a driver
wasn't pleased with the lack of space the passengers made. He
stepped on the gas, slammed the break, and all the people were scooted
forward. Room was made for more riders.
There was a
fine art to shopping in Liberia, and I quickly mastered the situation.
The local souvenir dealers (called Charlies for some reason) frequently
visited the Peace Corps rest house. I laughed at their prices,
joked with the men, laughed some more, and got better prices than
most of my friends.
Of course, if
you really wanted a cultural experience, you did your shopping at
Waterside. It isn't clear in the photo, but beyond that bridge
is a sea of humanity. It was the best place to buy fabric.
I should know too. I made more use of the tailors than any other
volunteer. I didn't smoke and didn't drink Club beer.
So, I spent my money on my fashion statement. What was my favorite
shop on Waterside? It had to be Rambo Textiles where you could
see a painting of Stalone holding a bolt of cloth like a machine gun.