Monday, March 12, 2012

Our first trip to Liberia 23 Feb 2012

On 23 February 2012 we made our first drive to Liberia.  We understood that it is a 5-6 hr each way trip so we were to leave at 6:30am and be home by 6:30 pm... best of all be home by dark!  Markus was leading the way with one elder who had completed his mission and was going home to Liberia.  We had 3 sisters transferring to Liberia, and the back of the truck loaded with luggage, mail, and unit supplies for 2 branches.

Well, things didn't go quite as planned!  We didn't get away from Bo until 7:30am.  Markus needed diesel so we went into Kenema to fuel up.  We looked for fuel for 1 hour before finding some at this hand operated pump.

Markus on the right.

Diesel hand-pumped from left gallon glass to right, then into the hose stuck into the tank.

We are now 2 hours behind schedule.  We know we'll be driving back in the dark some but figure that 1 hour of that will be on the good road from Kenema to Bo... not too bad, but we'll hurry!

As we travel the road we realize the truck is not performing as it should.  Markus is okay but ours has no acceleration... we can't keep up with him even on the "good" stretches.  At about 2100 rpm regardless of gear it starts to hesitate.  The road is rough and the light is flat which makes seeing the potholes difficult.  It's the dry season so there is dust...

On the way back we crossed this bridge in the dark.  Before we started out we saw a large semi on the other side... we each blinked our lights at each other.  He turned his out so we assumed that meant we could go first, which we did.

Traffic jam on the road to Liberia.

The pothole diameter is the width of the road. Can you see it?

Markus waving us into the lead 'cause we can't keep up with him!

Big dips + short wheel base + speed = hmmm, yep, rough ride!

Town of Zimi.
         The town of Zimi is 27 miles from the Liberian border.  It takes about 2 hours to go those 27 miles.

This is the main road to Liberia so there are big trucks.

And taxis... with "stuff" on top, including people and goats.

Melima, Sierra Leone, border town.

We made it... Bo Waterside, Liberia.

4 missionary trucks to make the exchange. 2 from SL, 2 from Monrovia.

Elder Tims transferring to Kenema (then home on the next transfer in April).

Eagerly going thru the mail sack!

Elder and Sister Kikham, Elder Krumm in back, all in Monrovia.

Everyone transferred and ready to go!
We took about 30 minutes to quickly talk, transfer everyone and information, load up and head back.  We were 2 hours late at the border which meant the Monrovia couples had waited there 2 hours for us.  They were worried maybe we were motion sick with the road... not so.  The road is no worse than many backroads in southern Utah.  However, the speed is greater!

Elder Schlehuber drove all the way to Liberia.  Sister Schlehuber drove all the way back.  She drove as fast as she could to get as far as possible in the light.  But... we had issues at the border which delayed us some more.  The truck could hardly make it up some of the hills, although it seemed after hitting one particular bump that it did perform a little better!  We tried to get a run on the hills but that is difficult when the road is rough.  Marcus had us go in the lead since we were having vehicle problems.  Even so, it was like a horse heading home to the barn, and the closer we got to Kenema the faster we went.  Maybe that was an illusion since we were in the dark about 4 hours prior to reaching Kenema.  One advantage of the road in the dark is that the holes and gouges are visible because of the shadows.  The flat light in the day camouflaged the holes.

The only wild animals we saw were bats and very large insects jumping in front of the headlights.  But there are plenty of goats and dogs around the villages.  We even saw 2 cats cross the road in our headlights.

The next day we had the fuel pump replaced on the truck and it runs like a charm now!  Ha, ha, we also discovered that we have no tools in the truck, not even to change a tire.  But Markus was there and he always carries tools!  (We will get tools, don't worry!)

The next transfer is 10 April... another trip to Liberia???

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