UA-63899747-1 Back to Liberia Day 3 – On the road to Gbarnga – Nzinga Harrison, MD
Back to Liberia Day 3- Roachgate
January 12, 2014
Back to Liberia Day 4
January 13, 2014

I woke up this morning completely recovered from Roachgate.  And rightfully so, it was 11:30am!  I had slept 12 straight hours – must have needed it.  I ordered lunch and was reminded not to ASSume things are the same here in Liberia as at home.  I opened my club sandwich to find a three layer sandwich (so far, so good), with a fried egg, a white creamy spread that looked like coleslaw?, a layer of meat I didn’t recognize and bacon, which of course I had asked to be held.  Usually, when I’m out of the country, I will eat anything, but I couldn’t make myself do it.  So, I ate some potato salad and called it a meal.

At 2:00pm, my ride arrived for the trip to Gbarnga!  I kissed the comfortable digs of the Monrovia apartment goodbye and set out for my adventure.  I was not disappointed.  Of course, the pictures and video could never do it justice.  My driver, Anthony, is quite literally the most skilled, high-speed, off-road driver ever.  And I’ve concluded that native Liberians must have superior visuospatial skills when compared to the rest of us humans.  I’m just saying – you will never win a game of chicken with a native Liberian.   I thought we were about to be in an accident about 5 or 6 times, but from Anthony’s reaction (well, lack thereof), we really only had 2 close calls.  The first, goes a little something like this:   We are driving down the middle of the road behind a 15 passenger van who is behind a construction truck (about the size of a garbage truck).  The 15 passenger van decides to pass the construction truck.  But, the construction truck moves further towards the middle of the road, edging him out.  At the same time, my driver had closed the gap (so now we are directly behind the construction truck), so the 15 passenger van has no way to get back over.  So, after nearly running us off the road, he slows to get behind us because a car is coming at him head on.  After that car passes, we move to pass the construction truck as another car is rapidly approaching us head on.  The 15 passenger van is right behind us, also passing the construction truck.  We drive 70 kph (in a 15kph construction zone) and narrowly squeeze in front of the construction truck just as the oncoming car gets to us.    The only way I know Anthony was startled is because he said quietly “Oh!”  just as we narrowly got back on our side of the road.   The second incident involved a bird that looked a lot like a chicken, but wasn’t one.  He walked in front of car and Anthony slammed on the brakes and swerved not to hit him.  The car behind us swerved and the bird flapped his wings as both of our cars passed with him narrowly missed in the middle.  He then continued crossing the road…

We passed a truck piled high with who knows what and teenage boys on top.  I took a picture, but it’s a bit of a blur since we were driving so fast as we passed them.  You’ll be able to pick it out.

The full trip was 4 hours – 1 hour of which I slept (yes, through the high speed adventure) and the other 3 of which were pure adrenalin with a constant dodging of potholes, high speed passing, games of chicken and navigating construction.  It was a good time.   We passed through a town called Leper’s Colony.  I thought to myself, they should really change the name…and then Anthony said, the hospital where you’ll be teaching is right there.  In Leper’s Colony?!  Ok…

We arrived at the faculty house in Gbarnga which is really awesome.  It is 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, beautiful entry way with a hammock, living room, dining room, kitchen and ceramic tile throughout.  When we first arrived, the housekeeper let us know that the generator refused to start but someone had been called.  After some tinkering, it came on and the wifi is working. Yea!   Initially, there was no water at all, but a little tinkering, and we’ve got that too.  The toilet flushes by dumping a ladle of water in it from the barrel of clean water that sits next to it.  So, it is actually REALLY comfortable.  The generator doesn’t go off until we ask them to turn it off, so basically, besides hot showers, what more could you ask for?!

And tomorrow I will meet the group who will be my students for the next 5 days 🙂

Pics and a couple of videos of the ride and house can be found here:

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