Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A Robertsport Adventure...

It had been one of my dreams whilst here in Liberia to visit Robertsport, a holiday destination north of the ship. This past weekend I got my chance and boy, was I not disappointed! Here is my account of the weekend's events. Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a long one!

Eight intrepid explorers left the M/V Africa Mercy early this past Saturday morning to join a group of four that had left the previous day. Our destination? Robertsport. A three-hour drive north-west of Monrovia, and just a stone’s throw away from Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone (you can actually see the Sierra Leonean coast from Robertsport). We arrived at Nana’s Lodge, Robertsport, soon after 10h30 in the morning, after a speedy journey through thanks to Lorenzo, our driver.

After settling in to our bungalow tents, and taking in the breathtaking scenery (beautiful clean beaches and placid waves – although a rather strong current), we headed down and joined the others relaxing on the beach. This was how the rest of the day played out – chillaxing on the beach, enjoying each other’s company. We played Frisbee, and also spent much time body-boarding (boogie-boarding) on the waves. It was great fun.

Having had a lovely walk by the water’s edge just after sunset, we headed back up to the tents. However, later on we returned to the beach and made a bonfire, using driftwood we had gathered on the beach. The flames leaped high into the night sky. Indeed, the sky at night was quite a sight. The stars were out in full force, something seldom seen in the urban sprawl that is Monrovia. It was awesome to see God’s beauty and majesty unveiled before our eyes.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of His hands.
(Psalm 19: 1 NIV)

After six or so hours of sleep, I awoke to another sunny day. Four of us (Ben from the USA, Katelyn from Australia, Holly from New Zealand, and yours truly) walked into town where we just enjoyed being able to roam around freely, meeting UNMIL troops as well as children and adults from the local community. The kids were especially awesome, following us around and asking us to “Take my picture.” The buildings are also so much nicer and the environment is definitely cleaner that Monrovia, as is the sea-water. There seems to be signs of hope here in Robertsport. There are even solar-powered street lights!

It was also interesting (walking back along the beach – going we walked along the road) to see the names of the large fishing canoes: Jesus Give It To Me, Father Forgive Them, Give God The Glory, Love Is Wicked, and God Children. Christianity certainly plays a large role in this community – or at least in the naming of the fishing vessels!

Then, after our lovely morning spent exploring the town and its surrounds, we spent the remainder of our time relaxing some more on the beach, which is where I am now as I write this. We leave in a little over two hours. It has been a fantastic weekend – good people, good times! And certainly a much-needed break from ship life!

Thinking that that was the last I’d write for this blog, I find myself having to write some more… Hmmm, well. So much for saying we leave in two hours! Our taxi was two-and-a-half hours late and so we only got underway at 18h00, Sunday evening.

But shortly thereafter we got a puncture (a flat) in the left rear tyre. Once repaired, we were soon heading on towards the main road to Sierra Leone. We did, however, pull off the road to stop and buy a catfish and it was rather bumpy and uncomfortable with four in the back of a taxi! We were stopped at the checkpoint where the road to Sierra Leone joins the road to Monrovia. A lady official asked us “Where you come from?” The answers varied from New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. We then realised she meant Robertsport – “Where you coming from today?” It was rather embarrassing!

Another few light-hearted, albeit serious, moments. A taxi pulled out in front of our lead car. They had words with each other. We then passed this taxi and one of our Liberian friends in our taxi leaned out and said, “Something wrong with you, hey?” And then he shouted, “Don’t put foot!” to a man who crossed the road a little too close to us.

We eventually arrived home at 20h30, after another speedy drive through. And so ends a great, albeit tiring, weekend!

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