Monday, May 9, 2011

"Business Class Travel in Liberia, 1975"

Continuing to look back at Air Liberia. Here is one of three amazing archival Super 8mm films of life in Liberia, c. 1975, which were posted under a pseudonym on YouTube. This one shows the airport at Greenville, Sinoe county, on a windy, somewhat gloomy day about thirty-six years ago.

A few ex-pat businessmen iare waiting in a dingy, lightless concrete house, acting as a terminal. Several long shots pan across the dank, decrepit waiting room: concrete chipped, paint peeling, water leaking into puddles.

Perhaps the plane isn't on time. One businessman naps in an old chair, head against the concrete wall. Another, blonde-haired, smartly-dressed man orders a Heineken from a Liberian fellow manning a forlorn, concrete-block bar. Passengers are weighed on a standing scale, their briefcases on the counter.

Two employees of Air Liberia, in full uniform, slowly push the luggage cart across the grass field. A head-wrapped woman cuts across the field toward her home, through the tall grass, a lazy gait across the landing zone. The blonde fellow paces outside in the open breeze, bored, impatient.

Finally, a small plane appears over the trees, lining up with the airstrip against the grey sky. The speck becomes an oblong, banana-yellow trimotor, touching down a few yards away, its wheels make a small cloud as they hit the dusty earth.

Only when it comes to a stop does the ground crew reach to the edge of the clearing to get the gangway stairs. The plane is fueled up: a groundsman squatting on the wing. It starts to rain. The passengers dash out from the small terminal to board the aircraft in the warm drizzle, anxious to head back to Monrovia.

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