At 5:30 this morning I drove through a fog so thick it felt like I was passing through a large batch of “fufu” (a big dumpling-like Liberian food made from ground cassava). I could hardly see a thing. I met John 2 at Iron Gate and we were off to Monrovia. It was an uneventful ride and I appreciated not having to do it myself.
When we arrived, the first order of business was to pick up the replacement solar panel since we were passing right by ELWA Hospital. I was so paranoid about breaking this panel that I bought a $15 foam mattress (sold all over the place in Monrovia) to cushion the ride tomorrow. While waiting for James to arrive and lead us to the shipping container, I noticed the huge tent complex which I had seen on the news and in the papers during the Ebola crisis. You’ll see in this photo the banner waving in the breeze that says “ELWA II – Ebola Treatment Center”… there was a lot of grieving going on behind that orange fencing. I also noticed that Samaritan’s Purse got a great deal of press during the crisis. I think one of the reasons was their main office in Liberia is adjacent to the hospital. Once the reporters got to ELWA, it was easy for them to interview staff from Samaritan’s Purse.
We loaded the panel and were off…next stop was the bank to get my checkbook for the account I opened last week. I immediately deposited one of the Western Union transfers I had arranged before leaving the States. That went smoothly but took about 45 minutes.
Off to Randall Street to do some tire shopping. I’m tired of getting stuck in both mud and now sand since the existing tires are not “bush-worthy”. Last week, I actually found tires I really liked that the salesman told me would fit. I picked up the tires at his warehouse and drove them to the installation center. They started removing my front wheels and separating the tires from rims when the shop owner came over to tell me they were too big to fit…any heavy load (a frequent occurrence for us) and the tires would be scraping on the truck bed. My old tires were reinstalled and the new misfits were returned to the warehouse. A bit of time wasted but no money so far. Today I did some re-shopping and found acceptable versions at another storefront. Hopefully the extra “off road” tread will help this “lazy truck” with traction in the bush.
I forgot to mention that when driving to Randall St. we came from a different end than I usually do. I asked John 2 to make a left down Randall St. as we approached it from the cross street. Turns out Randall is two-way at one end and one-way at the other…but there’s no sign at that intersection. As soon as he started turning we both realized all the cars were facing us…the police swarmed us like we were part of a drug bust episode of “COPS” on Fox Television. A bit of shouting and $10 later we were on our way.
I bought a few supplies at Eagle Electric and by the time we loaded everything into the truck after having the new tires installed, it was just after 5:00 and the traffic downtown was thick. There’s frequent gridlock as traffic lanes have no boundaries. John 2 and I listened to the football game because this is semi-finals season for county vs. county football. Today Bong County (where our school is) was playing Grand Bassa, the defending champs. People were listening to the game everywhere we passed. While sitting still for some time at an intersection, a few odd fellows walked by and without speaking attracted a crowd of interested bystanders…I think they were supporting their favored footballers. It looked more like a troupe of mimes that had become a rebellious street gang.
The main reason for coming to Monrovia today was that Albert, the LCL expediter, had called yesterday to say the blockmaking machine was ready for pickup. We stopped at LCL so I could check-in and drop off the solar panel for safe keeping…I didn’t notice any large mobile machine parked around the compound. I called Albert and he said it would be dropped off any time after 1:00. The surprise of the day was his later phone call that the port had shut down for agency-wide staff meetings and the shipper wouldn’t have access until tomorrow morning. The best guess is 9-10am…which probably means 1:00pm. I need to get back because Saturday is pay day and I don’t want angry block layers…the guesthouse may end up looking like a Frank Gehry creation. Now without any immediate morning commitment, I’ll try to sleep late for a change.