Saturday, August 23, 2008

Liberia

Nice time with somebody from Sierra Leone

After being hospitalized for malaria , cycling in the rainy season and having a rough encounter with some Diamond prospectors made me think that I would rather like to return home. But then I found out about “Gilde "Grillpölser in Liberia ........!!!!!!!!! (Norwegian hot dogs)

After my stay in prison in Freetown I moved in with an Irishman working there. During my stay I only went and got malaria which I think I contracted in the bush. Not very clever specially after suffering two months of diarrhoea. I think I now know where it came from. The pain in my loins were the worst and whilst in the hospital they took blood samples. A nice female doctor from India told me that my health was very bad and started to talk to me as though I was a child. No alcohol for the next few weeks, eating as much as I can and lots of fruit juices. She also advised me to take vitamin pills. Amazingly, she was actually able to detect from my armpit hairs that I was undernourished.
I found that Freetown, which was named by the freed slaves, to be a very interesting city.
Some of it is colonial, but what I did notice was just how many wooden houses there were. These houses are small and I am sure had once been very beautiful, but the ravages of time and poverty have since changed their characters.
Whilst there I lived in a more European style house. I met with so many nice people working on aid, housing and school projects etc.
I thanked them very much and cycled on. It was difficult riding now due to the rainy season reaching it's peak. It was torrential rain most of the day which meant me having to wait until it eased off a bit before continuing. Even so, if it rained for a few hours it was enough to get me saturated even though I was wearing rain gear.



I experienced very bad flooded roads making riding very hard and slow. The area is very flat and the jungle has been stripped down. One advantage of the many streams here is that you can cool down when it gets too hot. I was in a diamond area where they are dug up from the river bed. There were many stories told from over the years which the people related to me. Theft is common and if you get caught you will find yourself in real deep shit.
The whole city is full of diamond shops.

I went further into Liberia where I met a former military officer who said that these were the 20 bloodiest years of his life. I told him that I served in the military for a year and that we could therefore be brothers.

Officer Balla Musa

What I didn't tell him though was that I spent my whole service life in an office writing bills for the Air Force.
I was invited by the battalion to spend the night there and we spent the evening drinking Palm wine and he told us stories. I could hardly believe my ears hearing of the atrocities that had occurred. Killings and amputations of women ,children and older people's limbs. No one was spared. I met many rebels and asked them why they did these things and no one wanted to admit to any of it. However, they did tell me that it was more often than not whilst under the influence of drugs. One man, with a bizarre sense of humour, told me after a few beers what exactly went on there. Can you believe it that before amputating they often asked whether they preferred one arm longer or shorter. The short arm meant amputating from the elbow, while the long arm meant from the wrist. No matter how sad it was I did laugh a bit as to the way this story was told. In addition, most people don't think about it much these days and only smile. Now he says he is without any bitterness as, for him, it was simply an unpleasant chapter.

I received the friendliest of welcomes at the Liberian border where I was invited by an immigration officer to have a beer to celebrate my arrival in the country.. Norwegians work on many major projects here building schools, etc. Plan Norge (Norway) is one of the companies.
After two decades of civil war, UN soldiers from all over the world ensure that peace is maintained which happens to be the most expensive UN operation in the world and now Liberia is one of the safest countries in Africa. At present I am living with a friend who I had previously swum with. He is the operation area manager of a UN department. We spent a few pleasant evenings with Norwegian politicians. I must admit that I do live well here almost like I was at home. One feels best in his own culture. There is a lot of Norwegian food here, Norwegian hot dogs, etc. It’s been a long time since I tasted really, good Norwegian food. Unfortunately, I don't have many new photos to illustrate all of this.
Tom at work

Haircut between norwegians and the UN police

My camera only takes dark pictures but I do have a new one coming hopefully arriving next week which was ordered for me by a Norwegian UN soldier.

Ironman Petter

Norseman(Ironman) movie from Norway

On the other hand, my hobby agent, Petter Guttormsen did the world's hardest Iron man contest (Norseman)which entailed a 4 km swim through the Eidangerfjorden, 180 km cycle to Hardangervidda and 42km run to Gaustatoppen. I took part in 2005 in this same competition and it was then that I thought the whole world belonged to me and that nothing else was impossible thereafter. Petter , I congratulate you on your success.

On the road with girls.

Cross River

2 comments:

Marianne said...

Jøye meg!! Tar meg selv til hodet, ler, smiler og gapskratter når jeg leser bloggen din! Utrolig fasinerende. Jeg mailet deg tidligere i våres ang sykling på usa`s vestkyst (fikk mailen din fra petter). Vi brukte ca 6 uker fra Canada ned til Mexico. Kjempegøy, og noe helt av USA enn du ellers ser/hører om. Litt flaut å gi deg vår blogg adresse når jeg ser din, men her er den allikevel:
http://sandiegoorbust-mbontour.blogspot.com/
God tur videre! Din blogg slår de fleste reisehistoriene jeg har hørt (og det begynner å bli en del!)
Marianne ;)

Overboard said...

I'm speechless.
Your tales are intriguing, astounding, eye-opening, informative, candid, uh, I could go on and on and on.
Wow.
I have some reading to do here. A lot of reading.
Thank you for sharing your African journey with the world.
Thank you.