Sunday, May 31, 2009

Phew, it's hot in hurr. That's what wick would say. The term "Africa
hot" will forever have a different meaning to me. But I would like to
think that I am acclimatizing.

Today we are headed to the bush to interview some rural liberians. We
can barely understand city liberians. I have no idea how we'll
understand indigenous peeps.

There are alignment issues with our project. The furniture that
people are making is priced at $600. The average Liberian makes $1
per day. So the avg joe would need to work for two years before they
could afford a furniture set that you probably wouldn't even put
outside on your patio. Rough. We have quality control issues and our
cushion costs are way too high.

What we are trying to to is take the bamboo furniture making industry
to individual villages. They harvest the bamboo and craft the
furniture. Then, an NGO or third entity takes the beautiful furniture
to market. This sounds like a good idea and could work. But Liberia
has an85% unemployment rate. The country is torn from 10 years of
civil war with only hampered progression and deveoured any economic
opportunity. This place is simply the remnants of a war zone.

The people live in delapitated buildings with no running water, no
doors, and definately no power. There ate basically two types of
markets, really expensive stores for expats, UN workers, and us. Tub
there are huts, wheelbarrows and street peddlers pushing fish, bags of
water, andloaves of bread. Liberians can buy amy of these items for
less than 5 cents usd. But if we were to buy anything, it'd be a
couple dollars.

As you can imagine, people here don't shower much. We have one bboo
expert who interviews with us around the city. Gettin within a couple
feet of him makes me sick to my stomach literally. Couple that with
the fact that pollution is rampant, it's a cocktail for disease.
There is no sanitation at all. I have a better understanding for by
people poo on beach--it's the cleanest place to relieve yourself.

Tv other issue is trash. There is no dump and not even any garbage
cans. Liberians just throw trash on the ground. Some are tidy enough
to put it all in a pile. Then they burn it. It smells so bad and is
so toxic, I am amazed these people don't fall over dead.

There no home per se, people just sleep in random buildings with no
sense of property. Even the nicest buildings would be uninhabitable
in even 2nd world nations. It's pretty intense.

One of the problems is that there ate international organizations that
have been handing out aid for decades. So liberians know they can
just sit around, do nothing, and someone will come give them good,
water, Medicene, and clothing. Why would you bust your ass in this
African heat when you know that if yousit tight long enough, all that
you really new will be given to you.

Currently, it's 5 hours into a one hour trip. Again, absolutely no
sense of urgency. Our first hold up was some rubber necking near a
bank. After passing, we noticed the police were there and there was a
bloddied body in the dirt lot out front. Someone had just been
killed. This place is real! Then, in the midst of the worst traffic
jam you gave ever seen, a car went flying down the middle of the.
Street bouncing off other cars. It ran over a kids foot and I thought
the kid put himself there on purpose. Turns out he did place his leg
under the car. It had lost it's brakes. Wow.

Ph yeah, I almost forgot. Every single vehicle here, including
thousands of Motor scooters, has an intense horn. Our driver uses 10
blasts for anything you can imagine. Turning? 10 blasts. Someone
walking on the street, 5 blasts. A car 1/4 mile down the road, 5
blasts. I think all car horns should be banned

1 comment:

Jarrett said...

Jim, I hate to say it but it's time to man up. Time for you to really give those kids some help. It's time you give them your tired old Cervelo and let them show you what real bike racing looks like. Set up a local crit with moving taxis as obstacles. Give them 25mms for the occasional pothole or corpse. Then you can tell them about the Tour de France and how if they ride fast enough they can be in it. Then you can show them where France is on a map.

P.S. I can ship the rest of your tired stable if there's enough of a demand (Indie Flab, and those flamming Intenses).