Monrovia and more

Trip Start Apr 27, 2008
Trip End May 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Urban Renaissance Hotel

Flag of Liberia  , Monrovia,
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In Liberia for work of course - could there be any other reason? Well, there are good beaches and not too many tourists... It was quite something seeing the UN in action trying to rebuild a 'failed state' but it must do something to the psyche to see all those signs saying "This school rehabilitated by UNDP", "This hall built by Church X", "This police station renovated by EU", etc. Why do all these donors have the need to stamp their names on things? Isn't the deed enough, especially when it's your job (as in the case of the UN). It's like in the Philippines where bus shelters and markethalls bear the name of the mayor who funded them as if the citizens should be grateful that s/he did what he was supposed to do.

Anyway, back to Monrovia. The Chinese were still working on the roads in town so one shouldn't expect too much of those out in the country as we found out when traveling to Buchanan and Ganta - taking those potholes at such a speed certainly shook one's bones about. It was something to see the rubber plantations with the white liquid still being collected in the age-old manner. But it was sad not to see much in the way of native forest - either slashed and burned for local habitation and farming or one was looking at old, neglected rubber plantations with the scars of indigenous tapping for the sap to sell to Firestone or the local county agent. An absence of vegetable sellers along the road (markets in the towns only) and no interesting/exotic birds seem to tell some stories of the hardships - but the breaking of rocks by hand to sell to local mining groups or construction companies seems to be a sign of poverty in this and other countries.

It was interesting to be in a country with Phase II and III security alerts still in place and news of armed groups roaming the cities and countryside. Still, the residents made the most of it although the entertainment left a lot to be desired of an evening. No wonder that DSTV was advertising - and all those other companies which were absent from the billboards of Sierra Leone; UN business that will disappear with the UN when the Banglashi, Pakistani, Ghananian, Indian (women) and other troops and support personnel leave.
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