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Long and winding road

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Modern Gas Station

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Drumming in Saclepea


SACLEPEA  ........  Not many people found a reason to stop in Saclepea.  I wouldn't have if it were not that several of my best Peace Corps friends lived there.   And, since it was about halfway between Monrovia and Zwedru, I stopped there whenever I traveled the long and winding road.  Three hundred miles of travel in America wouldn't need to be broken in half.  But, travel in Liberia was an entirely different story.  And, Saclepea was my home away from home.

It didn't take much of an excuse for me to hit the road.  Sometimes it was just the fact that gasoline had come to town and that surplus needed to be enjoyed.  And then, there was my job of collecting Liberian folk tales.   I had to go to Saclepea -- or anywhere else -- as a part of my research.  Of course, there was that little rule (which was completely and shamelessly ignored) that said Peace Corps volunteers should only travel twenty miles from home on a motorcycle.   I modified it to multiples of twenty. 

A few volunteers helped support an interesting little industry in Saclepea -- drum making.  I went out of town to watch Augustus cut a log with a cutlass.  He whacked away at the log and it was cut as smoothly as if a saw were used.  Next we hollowed the log.  I helped some, but I quickly blistered.  Another Liberian said it would take me a month to complete the drum.   I smiled and politely told him I'd be leaving town on Thursday.   He was welcome to return on Friday.

After hollowing, we shaped the outside with a cutlass.   Then, we scraped a ten inch circle of goat skin, soaked in water, and stretched it over the drum.  It took a long while for the skin to dry and then get tied down on the drum.  

Copyright 1999 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.