I’d like to say it’s hard to believe but it’s not…the block machine did, in fact, arrive around 1:00pm instead of by 10am. The trick was that it was in a big wooden shipping crate on a semi-truck without a fork lift. I presented Albert with this query and his response was, “This is Africa, Jon.” Weighing in at just over 3,000 lbs. I had a hard time imagining heaving this blockmaking behemoth onto the ground with just manpower. They (meaning Albert, the truck driver and 8 guys just hanging around the LCL compound) thought raw manliness was enough until I had them wheel it to the edge of the flatbed and just attempt to levitate this 1.5 ton beast with whatever magical muscular incantations they could muster. Off course it didn’t budge. The Plan B idea was wawa wood ramps about 12-feet long…although wawa has its purpose as forms for casting concrete, it’s the wimpy adolescent of the structural wood species and would easily have snapped under the weight. Plan C was, “let’s just heave it…we’re strong enough.” Testosterone frequently overpowers the chemicals necessary for effective synapses and informed decision making so I ignored that rerun recommendation and went along with another suggestion. We should unload it directly onto baby Foton’s truck bed and haul it to Gbarnga instead of towing on the bumpy roads.
The next trick was getting it down 18″ by “working smarter, not harder”. I noticed there were drainage channels around the compound with welded steel grates fabricated in about 4-foot sections that reminded me of those tailgate ramps on landscapers’ trailers. These worked “grate” (another pun for Uncle Herk). We strapped it tightly in place, loaded the remaining boxes, and secured the solar panel atop its cozy protective mattress and we were off around 2:15.
I’m writing this while driving (actually I’m a passenger – never blog and drive!) and all is safe so far. Excuse any typos…I’ll blame them on bumpy conditions and autocorrect! Here are some Gbarnga Highway construction shots.
I’d like to take a commercial break to thank my in-laws, Bill and Marie, for the “bonus” support they contributed to this trip so I could enjoy some meals out. I particularly appreciate it on days like today when I’m stranded in Monrovia at the will of the delivery people. Being able to sit down for a nice chicken Ceasar salad with an ice-filled glass of Coke knowing it was safely prepared was relaxing…mm mm good…thank you! Yes, I’m spoiled!