Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The ride home

Considering how things could have gone, I lucked out with WFP transport back to Zwedru yesterday. The first half of the trip was great. Our driver even gave us little history lessons as we drove along. We learned that there are some compounds just outside of Monrovia named Baghdad, Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently if you live here you must be on alert at all times- if you leave something outside (a pot cooking on the fire, clothes to dry, a bathing bucket), it will go missing. You even have to look before you leave the house in the morning because "people will leave biiiig piles of shit right on your doorstep." We saw the place where Chalres Taylor trained his "troops" and the small town nearby that they terrorized, we saw a bridge that was bombed during the war, a hospital where a massacre occured (but is back up and running today), and several roads leading to Guniea and the Ivory Coast were pointed out. But the most interesting thing I learned has to do with Grand Gedeh County and Zwedru. The topic of food was brought up, mainly the lack of food in Zwedru and Grand Gedeh County as a whole. I keep hearing about people just being "lazy" to farm, but they still seem to be living comfortably (nice clothes, shoes, full bellies, etc.). So a little bit of war history- the Krahn tribe makes up the majority of the people in Grand Gedeh County. Samuel Doe is from the Krahn tribe. When Charles Taylor ousted Doe and took power, he also wanted to oust all of the Krahn. This brought devestating effects to Zwedru. In order to escape the war that was in full force here many people feld to the Ivory Coast and even more so to the States. Many of those people never returned to Liberia and instead continue work in the States and send money back to remaining family members in Grand Gedeh County (Zwedru). This answers the question of why there is a huge bank here with a Western Union office that is always busy with a line out the door. If people were sending you money every month you wouldn't want to farm either! Its much easier to wait in line than it is to go to the fields every day. I can't blame them. I can only continue wishing for a fresh red tomato.
When we got to Ganta we stopped for a quick lunch (rice and potato greens!!) and prepared ourselves for what lay ahead. Ganta is where the road turns from paved to not paved. And by not paved I mean mud, potholes, water, and more mud. It had been raining constantly since I left Zwedru on Thursday. I thought it was only in Monrovia, but as we started driving along, I realized it had been raining up country as well. As we were barreling along, listening to an Akon cassette tape on repeat, we suddenly came across a line of trucks stuck in the mud. Not the kind of mud you make mud pies out of... this mud was a thick clay, many feet deep. Oh, did I mention we had to go uphill in the mud? Without hesitation our fearless driver put it in 4 wheel and stepped on it while Ruthia and I closed our eyes and prayed! We made it half way and ended up sliding to the side of the road into a small ditch. At this point the tires were spinning and the whole village was around us yelling and laughing and cheering us on. It was even more exciting that 2 white girls were in the car! Soon we were surrounded by people looking for some money to help get us out. After agreeing on a price (200LD of which we only paid 100LD because we ended up using the winch more than them) they started pushing, pulling and rocking us back and forth while the driver stepped on it.
Yes, these pictures were taken from the inside of the car. No, I did not get out and help push.

After a little while of getting no where we took out the winch, but of course we were stuck in the one area that had no solid trees on the side of the road (we just passed a rubber plantation with hundrerds of strong rubber trees lining the road). Eventually we found a "strong" plantain tree on the side and connected ourselves to it. Here we are, connected to the tree...

The plantain tree stood strong and out we slid! Meanwhile, traffic was bulding up behind us. An NGO vehicle was also stuck and they didnt have a winch, so everyone thought it was a great idea for us to turn around, drive back down to where we just freed ourselves and hook our winch to them. We would then put it in reverse and pull them out.
It actually worked.

I have a video, but it doesnt seem to want to upload. I hope to get it up soon.

Ruthia was sad we got stuck but I was happy we made it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment