Liberia Part 1

 This trip got bumped from last summer to last Christmas to this summer. We were definitely glad we went during rainy season, while it was cooler! Thankfully, most days it was sunny so it had little affect on our activities.

Tues. & Wed.

I flew from Jacksonville, meeting Lois and a friend, Vivian Mast (who traveled with us to visit a cousin) at the Dulles airport. My flight had left JAX about 20 minutes late so by the time I got to my gate, they were already starting to board. Since it was a big, full flight, I still had plenty of time. We had a fairly uneventful flight to Brussels. For some reason we weren’t seated together but the kind gentleman seated beside me traded with Lois so we could sit together. I think the baby seated right next to him helped him to decide a center seat would be okay elsewhere!

We wondered around the Brussels airport, admiring all the fine chocolates for sale there. We found a chapel with three parts in it – an evangelical chapel, an orthodox chapel and a catholic chapel. Rather interesting seeing the difference in decor. In the evangelical chapel we found a guestbook, the last guest being Chester Weaver from TX, who had flown through there the day before on his way home from Liberia.

Our flight from Brussels to Monrovia, Liberia was about 2/3 full. We had a one-hour stop in Dakar, Senegal and more people got off. It was nice to have plenty of space and it seemed like the flight was much shorter than 8.5 hours. I got more sleep on that flight than I had through the previous, through-the-night flight. We arrived in Liberia about 1/2 hour early. We were some of the first ones to go through immigrations which went smoothly. The baggage claim was another story, being a small room with a conveyor belt that went around very quickly and lots of people standing tight around it pull off their luggage. All our luggage came through and we eventually made our way out. They waived us on through the luggage inspection area and our family was waiting right outside the door, which was closer than they normally let people stand, as we found out the next week when we went to pick up Robin and JoAnn’s family.

Gary had given us excellent instructions for making it through everything. Outside the airport were many “helpful” men who wanted to assist you with your luggage for a “small thing”. I guess there appeared to be plenty of us in proportion to the amount of luggage we brought as there were few “offers” of “help.” Mind you, just putting their hand on your suitcase as you rolled it to your vehicle could qualify as “help.” I remember our trip to Ghana several years ago was the same way. Many people showed up just to see who was coming in on the flight.

We piled in to their air-conditioned vehicles for the 45 minute drive to their house in the city. It was light enough to see the area as we traveled. We did make one pit-stop at Tower Hill, the CAM compound to use the “facilities.”

We arrived at the house, ate supper, unpacked all the goodies we took along, relaxed a little. We thought it felt pretty comfortable but they were ….

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a little on the cool side.

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It’s hard work having guests.

Thurs.

We decided not to plan a lot for the first couple of days we were there, saving the day-trips for the week that Robins family would be there too.

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We met the newest members of the family. This is Stinker the monkey who delights in getting mad. She usually gets over it quite quickly and then moves on to other recreational activities including:

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Playing with velcro on sandals

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Pulling on skirts

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Picking at imagined bugs, known to the rest of us as freckles.

You have to be careful not to get your head too close or she would pull the veil off your head. She also liked glasses.

Later in the morning we went to Fiamah market just a couple of blocks from their house. First we stopped in to see the several-week-old twins of Peewee and Kuku. Kuku told us that they had now been named: Pastor Gary and Mama Laura! What an honor for Gary and Laura but for the twins sake you kinda hope they drop the “pastuh” and “mama” titles.

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Kuku and the babies

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“Mama Laura”

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Ruth Anne holding Ruth Anne. The little one is the daughter of one of the security men. Note how warmly she is bundled! The weather was probably somewhere in the 80s.

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Fiamah Market

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Changing out US dollars for Liberian. The rate was $1 to 62 LD.

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Most of the tables under roof carried the same goods. On the left there are cans of tomato paste but in case you didn’t want a whole can you could buy a “snap” in the plastic. There were tiny packets of baking soda etc. just enough for one meal. I didn’t get a picture of the meat section. There were small smoked fish, including a coiled up eel and tiny dried shrimp.

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These men were grinding up potato greens. I forgot to find out what it was used for.

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The outdoor stands. The red oil on the left in the bottles is palm oil. It is made from palm nuts. Liberians use lots of oil in their food. They really love hot foods and habaneros are used to really heat things up. Chicken “cube” or boullion is also used in a lot of foods. When Laura asked for “small pepper” in our meals prepared by the native ladies, it still caused our noses to run.

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Vicki making “gravy,” which was tomato-based with macaroni and chicken, to be eaten over rice.

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The first truly Liberian meal we had: pumpkin soup (with fish), peanut soup with chicken and Vicki’s gravy, all served over rice to the accompaniment of tears (with the exception of Vicki’s “small pepper” version)! We loved the peanut soup and the pumpkin soup would’ve been a close second but the fish or “boney” as it is called, was a bit strong. Peanuts are called ground peas, which sounds like “grumpees”.

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We played a game of hubbub later that evening.

And the evening and the morning were the first full day in Liberia. I can see this is going to take a while.

7 thoughts on “Liberia Part 1

  1. great photos and commentary! interesting. it’s also amazing to me to see how Gary’s children have aged and to think the rest of us have stayed the same. amazing. (joke, but it feels true.)

  2. Hey MaryLou!  I had so much fun at lunch today.  We always say we’re going to do it more often but somehow we hardly ever do.  But I treasure the times that we do!  So fun. =)  Even though our stuff wasn’t the greatest and we sat there for an hour and you STILL didn’t get your butter. haha.  Good times.  Maybe Veronica shouldn’t pick the restaurants anymore. =)  Hope you have a wonderful weekend.  I’ll see you Sunday night maybe?  Love you.

  3. Interesting pictures and post! sounds like life for Gary’s family is anything but boring! It’s so cool that ya’ll got to go. Looking forward to more!

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