Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fendell: University of Liberia Campus

At the invitation of an acquaintance, I was transported up to Fendell, which sort of the northeastern gateway of metropolitan Monrovia. The urban sprawl slackens a few miles after red light, but not long thereafter is the new Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia, being constructed by the Chinese. In size, scale, and simply in newness, it is quite a sight, and its not even finished yet.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Trucks from Europe

Like the t-shirts I talked about earlier, I am not really sure that anyone pays attention to what is written on the trucks that are used around the city, for transport and delivery. Like a lot things here, they mostly seem to come from Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands (deciphering the languages on the side). Also like t-shirts, they end up here through donation or other sorts of exports of undesirable goods.

It has to be remember that, quite aside from the high degree of illiteracy among the local population, there is little understanding of the differences between Europe and the United States, much less the various countries and their languages.

I've met Liberians who thought I was German, or Russian, and seemed unaware that I would speak a different language if I was. To them, non-Africans speak English. I can see how this makes sense to them, in their perspective.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Houses for Rent (not for ex-pats)

I'm helping my friend find a new place to move his family in the area at the end of my street. Its sort of embarrassing to admit, I've been here for about six months on and off and I've never ventured down into the community down by the river, a 5 minute walk away.

Here are a few shots of the selection in the immediate area, ranging from about $50 a month for one-bedroom, to $150 for a two bedroom with a bathroom inside (but no running water…)

I have to admit it was pretty incredible to walk four minutes from my air-conditioned apartment down to this little area, and see how differently my neighbors live.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weightlifting Competition 2

This is my second "local" weightlifting competition, and although I have been really under the weather this week, I was glad I came out for it. Once again, the event was held this morning at the Joe Bar Market area, and sponsored by Mr. Big, the former Mr. Liberia, whose gym is just down the Old Road from Joe Bar Market Junction.

Same as last time, it was just a bench press competition, using "African weights" (really old machine gears) so the amounts involved were a little approximate (the guys would call out the weights in "African pounds", as in "175 African pounds." To get real weights from overseas is difficult and expensive, and there isn't a lot of money to be made out of starting up a gym.

However, there's no question that these guys are strong! Even using their conservative estimates for the weights, the champions were lifting 2-3 times their own body weight off the bench. Pretty incredible!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mangrove Roots

Driving Across the Mesurado River on SKD Boulevard provides an excellent view across the low marshland, with the fantastic Mangrove plants and their incredible, curvaceous route structure. I hope that, before development threats this habitat, measures are taken to protect it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Awesome African Sunset

African Sunsets are fast, as if the sun is weighted down, but they don't lack for color. I find that its much easier to see the sun when it sets here. I guess between the woodsmoke fires and perhaps the higher-altitude dust from the Hamattan effects, a sort of atmospheric screen dims the sun a bit.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sea Turtle for Sale

I could probably write a great deal about the circumstances surrounding this picture, but to summarize, here's what I posted on Facebook about afterwards:

Oh no. These guys were walking around town trying to sell this poor, beautiful sea turtle. I tried to negotiate with them...the youngest one here actually understood what I was saying and I almost convinced him to get in the truck and drive it back to the water if I gave him $20, but the older guy said no, it had to be $50. He said they had been keeping it in a pool for 2 weeks and had been carrying it around all day-- the bottom of her shell was soft, she probably wasn't going to make it anyway (who knows if she even had a chance to lay her eggs...). In the end, they ran away when a police officer started walking down the street. I am so upset now. This place is tough sometimes.

I was really disturbed by this. I wasn't mad at these guys, exactly, but it was quite painful to see this magnificent sea turtle, suffering like this, thinking about whether she was pregnant with eggs, what she had been through. I wish I could have done something to help that animal-- or maybe just not seen the poor creature at all. 
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