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Saturday, March 3, 2012

An incredibly eventful day

Yesterday, the Pre-K through 3rd graders at my school went on a field trip to Marshall, a city in Liberia about an hour from my school. Marshall is on a river that feeds into the Atlantic ocean.  While on the field trip, we took a boat ride.  The ride passed a small fishing village, which you can see in the first two photos.

The boat ride also took us past Monkey Island.  

Before Liberia's civil war there was a research institute that did pharmaceutical tests on chimpanzees.  These tests were illegal in the US, so companies performed the tests here and send the results back to the US.  When the war started, the institute shut down.  They left the chimps behind on 6 different islands; people still bring them food 2-3 times a week.  

As the boat approached one of these islands, the kids in my class began making loud "monkey" sounds.  Slowly, about 8 chimps came to the coastline.  They wanted to be fed.  They even used hand motions to show us they wanted food.  Unfortunately, due to the low water levels, we could not get the boat close enough to the shore to throw the chimps the bread we had brought for them. These showed us their displeasure by  jumping around and pounding their fists on the sand.  As we watched the chimps on this island, we could hear the sounds of monkeys on other nearby islands.

It was amazing to see these animals out in the wild, but a little scary too.  Their size was massive!  And, the echoes that carried across the water of the other monkeys on the surrounding islands were a tad creepy.

Can you find all 7 chimps in the last photo?
On the way back from the beach, I was busy noticing how sunburnt my neck and shoulders had become when the caravan of school cars suddenly stopped.  One of the 4x4s had flipped on its side!  The adults got out of the other cars and were able to work together to flip the car right side up.  Thankfully no one was injured!
The dirt road to the beach kicked up lots of dust.
Later that night, I definitely to unwind -- a feeling shared by Caleb, my coworker, and my boss Ed.  We drove to Saaj, a restaurant that hosts salsa dancing on Friday nights.  As I was getting out of the vehicle, I fell into a deep hole.  Here, because there is so much rain, tunnels are dug to channel the water away from the roads.  In the US, these deep pits would be covered with metal grates, but Liberia doesn't cover them because the metal would probably be stolen and sold.

Anyway...long story short, I have a wonderful new bruise on my knee.  Have no fear, though.  I did dance the night away.  (I also paid the price later when my knew began throbbing with pain as I tried to fall asleep.)