The day started by joining the LCL staff for their morning devotions, greeting the group on behalf of Pastor Schultz and the other team members, and meeting people I had not yet seen due to the New Years weekend. Bishop’s wife, Linda, just dropped off their daughter, Yonger, to start grad school back in the US (coincidentally on the same plane I had just arrived on this past Friday). I tried to meet with several people to get updates on where the block machine and solar shipments were, who would be my driver up in Gbarnga, and settling payments due to Saah for his work while I was away.
I drove into Monrovia again to find a trailer hitch without success, so I went back to the only auto parts place that had one. The salesman knew he had me and given the law of supply and demand, was able to command a price any Rossman would have passed out from hearing. But, I took a puff on my emergency inhaler, downed a shot of whiskey, and bit down hard on my molars as I counted out the cash. It was especially difficult given the fact that this trailer hitch assembly doesn’t actually fit the Foton so will need modification and some welding in place.
I continued to cross town (literally…I crossed the bridge by Providence Island) to Vai Town where the Foton dealer is located. I wanted to see if they could weld it for me plus by this time, the A/C wasn’t working and they needed to fix that before I headed to Gbarnga. As I approached an intersection, one of the friendly Liberian National Police invited me to visit the curb and share my documents. I had gotten an international driver’s license (valid in Liberia, among other countries) while at home since I got stopped during my last trip and they complained (incorrectly) that my US license wasn’t valid. This time…I had ’em…I thought. The officer questioned when and where it was issued and whether it was valid in Liberia…I don’t think he’d ever seen one before and didn’t believe me. He looked at my registration and insurance…I still don’t have actual license plates because the government office hasn’t issued mine yet. He hounded me about not having proper documentation (false!) and continued questioning me saying he was going to “park the truck” (impound). I told him that wasn’t possible because I had limited time in Monrovia and wasn’t going to have my truck taken for the entire time. He asked who I worked for and who I was working with. At this point I’m getting a little annoyed because I know where this is headed (can you say bribe?!). After I told him the Bishop of LCL and pulled out my phone to call him, started dialing, and suddenly, “Since you’re helping the people of Liberia, I will let you go.”
Onward to the Foton dealer. I showed the shop mechanic the customization needed for the hitch and he had an excellent idea on how to modify/weld it in place…I think we were on the same page. Nothing like a Lebanese mechanic working on a Chinese truck with after-market parts from Dubai for an American customer in the Liberian capitol to make your United Nations head spin.
Since I needed to leave the Foton overnight for my international welding job, I took a cab back to the LCL compound. I asked the dealer how much it should cost so I wouldn’t get taken advantage by being told the more costly white missionary price…he said it should be $20 Liberian Dollars (LD). When I arrived, the cabbie asked for $100 LD. I gave him less, much to his disappointment.
I spent time updating my water tower design after getting some engineering feedback from the drawings I emailed to Doug Larson (thanks Doug!) then invited Isaac and his friend Christine to join me for dinner. We had a nice time at the Royal Hotel (even though it’s about 4 blocks from LCL, Isaac had never been inside). Christine is rather quiet and I’m not used to quiet women (hi Kathy! or maybe, hi Meyer women!) so I kept asking her questions to keep the conversation going.
I’ll see what tomorrow brings as I’m without transportation until the truck is finished.
(sorry I don’t have any fun photos to share yet)