The Firestone shortcut

I finished off my last batch of Aunt Jemima mix by making a nice big stack of pancakes and a couple of pieces of bacon as a filling breakfast in anticipation of a long airport drive along which there is little food available that I’m willing to eat from street markets. After washing and packing away all dishes, utensils, and pots, I covered them with towels inside the drawers to avoid having lizard poop drop on everything over the months ahead. I used my lock creation to secure these items so no guesthouse visitors use them (there’s a separate set for them). I short while later, Annie and Amelia greeted me with their usual cheery “Good morning, Mr. Rossman” and proceeded to hand off the last batch of my laundry. I packed away the set of clothes I leave here and put the remainder in my checked bag, which at this point is primarily filled with baskets the villagers have made.

Annie and Amelia told me they had a song to sing that they created for me. They sat on the porch steps and sang a wonderful song in Kpelle.I could really feel the love!

By now, the band of boys had arrived and helped haul my luggage out to the truck. With one last visual sweep through the guesthouse, I was satisfied all was in place and I hadn’t forgotten anything. We loaded into the truck and drove around to Deanville.

I was early for church and took the opportunity to walk across the street with Sunday Binda to see the progress made on constructing a sample building from our blocks as part of our roadside advertising. I was happy to see they had a foundation for this 5’x6′ display edifice already and would soon be pouring the concrete floor. Finally, some progress. John 2 had some time yesterday so he welded up a sign board. Next is to get it painted (I hope it’s still not raw metal when I return on my next trip!).

Back in the village I was able to capture photos of the monthly distribution of frozen chicken parts. Groups of villagers purchase cartons of frozen chickens instead of individually buying pieces in the market, which is more expensive. When the cartons arrive, there’s a great chatter as the parts are laid out on pieces of cardboard on top of the largest open flat surface in town…the cement graves of relatives. People banter back and forth about the inequality of portions in one pile of five versus another so as not to cheat the recipient. Each pile costs $160 LD. One individual holds the log book and calls the names of those participating in this month’s carton purchase. Some walk away with a bowl of chicken parts balanced on their heads while others borrow a bowl, run home, then return with the empty bowl for someone else to use. An interesting slice of village life.

Many people wanted me to take their pictures. There was even a very old woman named Karna who requested a pic…there must be a lot of interesting stories hidden in those age lines!

With the church service over, they said farewell to me with a series of prayers. We were rushing through the service because Sumo knew it couldn’t exceed an hour and a half if they were to say these prayers before my 12 noon departure deadline.

John 2 and Lavela were waiting at the truck and soon we were on our way. John 2 said he was going g to use a shortcut from Kakata through Firestone. I was a little hesitant given past so called shortcuts I’ve experienced. In Kakata we headed off the coal tar (pavement) and onto the dusty (now muddy with the light rain) road. He assured me we would connect to another coal tar road. What he didn’t say was that it would be an hour of rutted, muddy, washboard driving through the middle of rubber tree plantations as far as the eye could see without much human contact. Not a great place for a breakdown should this occur.

We did ultimately end up on pavement and I was pleasantly surprised to find we were in sight of the airport when we did. The typically smooth 4-1/2 hour trip took only 3 bumpy hours. And with the overcast and rainy skies, I’m not swimming in sweat as I sit at a small restaurant at the airport. All in all a good airport ride.

3 thoughts on “The Firestone shortcut

  1. You look good, a bit thin in the face but good. I am going to miss reading about all the adventures and progress in Gbarnga. Safe travels!

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  2. Appreciated the picture of a beautiful senior lady – loved her smile. Am planning the meals for when you are here next week. Any requests?

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  3. Jon, the folks in these videos and photos are truly part of your family. I feel privileged to share you with them. Joy! Joy! Joy! Regardless of setbacks or uncertainties, there is pure joy in living a life that is conciously connectedi in love with our fellow brothers and sisters. Amen! Now get home and get over to Kimbals!!!! Sharon

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