An epic day of frustration, corruption and adventure in Liberia!

So, being a white guy in Africa has it's advantages and disadvantages. For one the women are more than curious. A disadvantage being that every African assumes you are filthy rich and loaded with money.... So I woke with my friend, and had explained the night before that I would be leaving in the morning. I packed my things and was ready by 8. Again knowing that it was going to be another full day on the road... Somewhere in between me getting ready to say goodbye her friend who I met the night before came in and they locked the door. The friend asked what I had for Patience (I believe that was her name...) They wanted money from me, and being that I had all my bags on and because it was a small room; I had great difficulty initially getting the key back and then unlocking it... 15 minutes or so passed. It was getting very heated in the room. I was helpless in the fact that they were women and couldn't beat them down to get out. I attempted to open the window and climb out which wasn't possible. I laughed at the fact at just how surreal my life seemed at certain times. Held at ransom by two women in a hotel in Liberia. I really was getting annoyed though. I hadn't assumed that she would have acted in such a way; clearly lack of judgment on my behalf... Eventually... We were making enough commotion for the manager to get her keys and unlock the door. My friend still not wanting to move... I stormed out, sweat pouring over my body and my adrenaline pumping... The manager was of course told about the window which had been half removed, and also the fan which had been knocked down... She shouted me to stop but I just stormed out heading towards the bus park... No buses to Harper. Great. Thankfully to a town on the way. I paid for my ticket and sat down going over what had just happened. Several minutes passed before a large Policeman headed in my direction shouting aggressively at me... Great... We started talking and I managed to calm him down and did a fairly good job of explaining what had happened, however once the Manager arrived she made the situation escalate as she was yelling and doing her best to get me in the shit! (A shame cause we actually got on, and talked nicely for the time I was there) Now however, I was her ticket to some easy money, and Africans and money really don't go well together. I was finding out, especially in Liberia that anyone will stab you in the back, and more if it means they can get something to put in their pockets. I wanted to get out, so offered $10 to dissolve the situation and let me go on my way. Long story short, the offer was accepted before I then declined and suggested we go to the hotel to the scene of the crime. Stupid really as I was the innocent one and was dealing with Liberian Police who are closer to criminals than to anything resembling a Police officers. They told me I had just made it alot more difficult for myself. I quietly agreed. We went, and I offered the money again once arriving. She accepted and we left. Of course now the Pigs wanted something. If not I would be charged to Vandalism and Prostitution. Ironically I probably was guilty of Vandalism; but not prostitution. I had been screwed over and wasn't willing to fight for it. I gave the the equivalent of about £1 and they gave my ticket back and let me be on my way. In truth they weren't that bad. However if I had refused to give them anything they would have easily made my life difficult. My friend was only asking for $5, in my stubbornness and principles I ended up having to pay over $10. Needless to say my impressions and opinions about Liberia were turning rather negative. Actually I couldn't wait to leave the place! First though I had about 200kms of non-sealed roads, and with the rain from yesterday one was sure the day hadn't yet began... I returned to the car and got a few cheers, and apologies about what had happened. The whole park was of course watching everything unfold. We left soon after and I put on some tunes to relax and try to absorb the mornings events. That is until at a checkpoint I managed to step on my earphones and tear them in two. Again, I could only laugh. God really wasn't on my side today! After 4 or 5 hours we arrived at 'Fish Town'. Harper was still at least that many hours away. I didn't want to take a Honda that far so waited for a few minutes trying to flag down any passing cars. A car stopped, and it was heading to Pibo, about 30 mins from Harper. I was in! We agreed a price and waited to my new friend to eat. The car I had flagged was a learner car; the instructor set off before the roads started to deteriorate, which is when he let the leader take over (who, only 30 mins previously had downed several shots of strong liquor!) Thankfully there was little traffic on the road, however the further we continued on the less likey one could even call it a road. We were soon bogged down, the learner clearly not very good at navigating through the mud. For 40 mins we pushed and pulled the car before we eventually got it out onto flat mud. This pattern continued for the next few hours, at one point we were really in the shit, when thankfully a 4x4 passed to tow us out. Nightfall was fast approaching, as was the rain and my plan to get to Harper today. I would be staying in Plibo. We were all covered in mud and drained from a long few hours of driving in terrain which was never intended for a small old hatchback, however the Nissan Sunny done amazing, and got us all there in one piece. A more than memorable journey! My friends walked me in the dark and rain to a cheapie in town before departing and promising to return in the morning to see me off. I grabbed some food. I was shown to a small eatery, and asked the guy if he wanted a coffee, he replied by saying "I will take anything you give me." A little annoyed I laughed and assured him he was Liberian. He ordered himself a Omlette roll and coffee and let me settle the bill, not even a gesture of thanks was given. By this point however I was  too tired to care. I would soon be out of Liberia and could put it all down in my now vast ever increasing lists of memories. Today is a day I sure wont forget. From being held captive by two women, to nearly being arrested, to having to help push a small learner car and a not to sober driver through the worst roads imaginable. This was what I lived for, and as I crashed my head to the piliow I knew  and thought that I wouldn't have it any other way!


20 Responses to “An epic day of frustration, corruption and adventure in Liberia!”

  1. james richards
    March 8, 2011 at 2:56 am #

    oh sam…i dont know how you get yourself into situations like that! but reading how you continually escape arrest and possiple prison time brightens up my day! keep up the good work and stay safe and healthy…your friend, james.

  2. Cj in DC
    April 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Hey man,

    Stumbled onto your website from a LP Thorn Tree post. Enjoyed reading about some of your experiences, relived a few similar ones of my own, and overall was reminded why I’m excited to return to W Africa/Liberia in a couple weeks.

    Keep up the great job!

  3. May 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    Cheers man! Yes, Liberia was certainly a trip, as most of West Africa has been.. Currently chilling in Ghana though, before setting of again in July… If your passing by let us know… Ivory Coast is fine now as well it seems.. Safe travels! Peace.

  4. June 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Wow! It sounds like you cheated death, prison, etc., all in one day. The Liberian attitude toward money is certainly telling culturally, from the women who wanted $5 to the man who let you pick up breakfast, no thank you necessary.

  5. June 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    haha, yes was one of my more memorable days on the road! The Liberian attitude towards money is similar to that of the African one in general…”If I can put my hand out for something without having earnt it I will” However being that Liberia has close links to the US I guess they are a little more money hungry!! 😉

  6. June 25, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    What a hell day! I feel very ambivalent about travelling in countries where the people are extremely poor. On the one hand the people can be the most pleasant in these places and they have charms that you won’t find in richer countries. On the other, you constantly have to be worried about being scammed or robbed or cheated and, yes, people do look at you like a walking ATM. I can take it in small doses, but when I just want to relax it really gets me down.

  7. June 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Yes I agree Andrea. Can get tiring, and Liberia certainly isn’t the place to go if your looking to relax! Although I had a few negative experiences there I enjoyed the challenge and on the whole most people were friendly 🙂

  8. Judith
    July 5, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    What a day! I would expect you learn who to trust or not. But even after so many travels and meeting people still you sometimes meet the wrong persons…Hope Togo will be a better place (don’t know nothing about that country…thought it was an island in the pacific!?)!
    Enjoy, Judith

  9. July 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    haha, yes indeed you are right Judith… It’s the thing I love about travelling, not matter how experience you still makes mistakes, though you hopefully learn from these mistakes… In fact only the other day was I approached in a similar manner… however had to refuse (which was dificult I have to admit! haha Yes, I don’t think many people know where Togo is, it does sound quite Pacific Islandish I suppose! 😉

  10. August 29, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I enjoyed reading this story. The adventures that can arise in Africa are on the next level. Even though it can be extremely frustrating, keep your head up and keep safe Sam!

  11. August 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Cheers Mark. Looking back I really enjoyed my time in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire… Though at the time admittedly I was more than a little annoyed and frustrated! I’m back in England now so the only challenge for me now is to not eat to much and get fat! haha (sigh..)

  12. August 31, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    I think it’s a general rule in third world countries that when desperately poor women pick up a man who is wealthy enough to leave his own country and travel the world — i.e. more wealthy than they will ever be in their lives — the guy pays. Good learnings, I guess.

  13. August 31, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Not necessarily, I’ve had situations (without going into too much detail!) where it has just been what it was, and nothing was asked for or expected of. However my judgement was slightly skewed in this situation… C’est la vie!

  14. Deepak yogi
    March 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Hey Sam, it might be very horrible day , but interesting thing is you break window and easceap .

  15. March 21, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Hey Sam, it might be very horrible day , but interesting thing is you break window and easceap .

  16. March 21, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Hey Sam, it might be very horrible day , but interesting thing is you break window and easceap .


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