With our weather delay, making the connection for our Brussels flight was quick. We arrived Newark around 6:05pm and the Brussels flight was scheduled for departure at 6:25pm – down the jetway, dodge right through the narrow aisle formed by other weather-delayed crowds waiting to board our soon-to-be-empty plane, up one concourse to the next, and finally to the departure date as the PA system blared “final boarding for Brussels flight 243”. I was concerned I had left my travel companions behind because Kathy had made arrangements for wheelchair assistance due to a recent motor vehicle accident and with the crowds I wasn’t able to see where they were. I kept looking over my shoulder but to my surprise, they were all waiting for me as the agent scanned their boarding passes. Turns out they were holding the Brussels flight for other delayed passengers as well so our sprint could have been a jog.
The flight was generally uneventful. When we landed in Freetown, Sierra Leone and waited for the plane to be cleaned before the 45 minute flight to Monrovia, we started talking with other standing/stretching passengers. Of course, there ended up being personal connections. The young man, Isaac, sitting in front of me was in the Peace Corps up in Nimba County and knew Andy from his training. His travel companion (and apparent girlfriend), Cory (a physician) had dinner with me and a of couple other Peace Corps people at Dr. Gwenigale’s house in Phebe a year or so back. She works at C. B. Dunbar Hospital in Gbarnga. Our conversation meandered to chicken farming and they have a good connection to AgriCorps volunteers working in Ganta (about an hour north of our school) who can give us advice on poultry raising and feed they’ve developed that adds peanuts for cheap protein. I’m looking forward to following up on that.
We were greeted by the usual chaos upon our arrival in Monrovia – immigration, baggage claim, and the clamoring of people trying to “help” us carry everything with tips as the endgame. Both John 2 and Saah were the ever-reliable faces in the crowd to greet me. With 10 checked bags, carry-ons, and Kathy in a wheelchair the level of chaos was elevated from previous trips. I think a few of our helpers managed to double-dip on the tips amidst the confusion of helping hands and handouts. With baby Foton loaded with our bags safely wrapped in a tarp and the five of us loaded into Saah’s Land Cruiser, we were safely on our way to LCL for the night.
Emmanuel and a couple of security guards helped us unload and find our guest rooms. Bishop’s wife, Linda, was also there so after a brief hello and baggage directing/ room instructions, I was able to hand off to Linda several items she had asked me to carry for her from the States. Before going to bed, I did a quick look through a few of my checked suitcases for any missing items. At first glance it looks like the baggage handlers/security may have confiscated one of my solar components. I’ve been concerned about that possibility since they look a bit suspicious with various wires coming out of them. I think the “lightning arrestor/surge protector” that mounts on one of the electrical boxes is gone. I’ll find out for sure once I get to Deanville and officially unload.
Looking forward to getting up to the school.