Friday, August 20, 2010

A reminder of what was

Back in his days of glory Samuel Doe tried to make his hometown, Zwedru, the place to be. As I mentioned in a previous post, he brought electricty, paved roads, and large houses. But today you will only find skeletons of what was. The roads are pot-holed, the street lamps don't work (a tease as you walk by them in the black of night), and the most of the houses have crumbled.
And as if all of this is not enough, there is one huge last reminder of what was: Doe's Zwedru palace...a palace that I don't think he ever got to enjoy.
It doesn't look like much today. but if you look closely you can imagine what it may have looked like at one time. The roof, the fence, and even most of the imported Italian marble has been stolen and replaced with overgrown weeds, graffiti, and piles of cow shit (I sometimes wonder if this is natures way of telling Doe "you lose.").
This is the main entrance... from the ground looking up (notice the tiled ceilings and the presents the cows left behind on the ground) and from the second floor looking down (if you look in the background you can barely see the water town that is in the WFP compound).

The whole building is several stories high. I havent quite figured out the layout because everytime I go I either get lost in the maze of rooms and skinny hallways (and find myself exactly where I started) or hear bats and other noises and get too scared to go any further.

For me, one of the most interesting things about this place is the amount of windows that look into other windows that look into other windows...

In the back yard there is a swimming pool beaming with the Liberian flag star and stripes. Apparently there is even a tunnel from the palace out to the " pool changing room, " but you'd have to be crazy to take this stairwell underground to find it.
Sometimes we hope the rains will fill it up so we can take a dip, but no such luck yet. Its more of a "skate park" for kids than anything else these days.

We often come here on Sundays for a few drinks on the deck at sundown. We'll sometimes run into local kids checking the place out (a.k.a. looking for a place to have sex, writing on walls, playing cards, etc.).

I find the grafitti very telling about the attitudes of people around here: a boy punching a woman in the stomach, sexual encounters (I only chose a few pictures of many), sayings, and even history lessons.

I wish I could spend more time here, but I always get a creepy feeling walking around. Maybe as we visit more often I'll become more brave (risky?). Pictures can't really grasp the freakiness/wonder of this place. You should all come visit.

The marble kitchen (or what's left of it):

A bathroom at one time:

My favorite room:

And of course, no palace is complete without fake stalagmites and stalactites:

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