Thursday, June 4, 2009

Every day gets more real in Liberia

This is me checking out a 75 cent/day bamboo worker. I was intrigued by his blowtorch bending skills slash was sweating profusely. It was interesting to see this 20 person shop in full production mode. And by full production, I mean, 1 table & 4 chairs furniture set a week. That same table and chair are listed at $600-$1000. Seriously? I still have a problem understanding who is going to buy these items in Liberia. I have a problem understanding who would buy this furniture in the wealthy US.

A couple interesting developments have occurred. Last night, we arrived at the concrete compound and there were no lights on. As I imagined, the generator was out with no concrete answer for when it'd be operational again. So that meant no lights, no AC, and no water pumps. We spoke with an American the weekend previous and he warned us about where we were staying. He travels with a security guard. Basically, the short story is that all the Liberians know that white people have cash on them because no place takes visa. So, there is limited security where we live, but he specifically told us about robberies. He claimed they would happen on a rainy night when the tin roofs would be making a ton of racket. It was about to rain. Couple that with lights out and none of us having flashlights, it made me a little worried.

Our friend told us that Liberians have been known to use the racket of rain on a tin roof to break down locked doors and hold you up for cash or for ransom. This thought was on the forefront of my mind as we approached the lights-out compound. So I made the decision to take everyone to a hotel. We had a taxi and went to the only hotel in Liberia that takes visa. Its nice enough, but way overpriced at $240 for 2 people. It was nice to get a hot shower though--my first in 2 weeks.

This morning, two of us were supposed to travel 6 hours by car to nimba county, in the northern part of the country. We were going to take a look at a possible site for future bamboo initiatives. However, we received word that our driver wouldnt make it because his nephew died of malaria the night previous. Then, an hour later, our client called and told us that she had typhoid fever. I have identified the next flight out on Sunday night. Unless there is some kind of serious change of good fortune, I intend to be on that flight. How many crazy things need to happen before you would leave?


Glover said...

Who gets the profits from the sale? If these were owner/operators, seems like one sale would set them up for life, given the poverty and wage rates

Chris said...

Great post, felt like I was there rolling up to your dark, concrete, complex. No use constantly being in sketchy conditions and situations. I added you to my blog email listing. They've been few and far between has my riding.

Anonymous said...

have to agree. its time to bail

as it turns out, there doesnt appear to be any ponies found, just a lot of shit.