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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.)



  1. Jason sent me some of these pictures over the phone, but seeing them on here I realize the phone didn't do them justice. He didn't tell me about the knee though. Be careful and take care of yourself - Crystal

  2. Good morning how are you?
    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.
    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.
    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Liberia? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Liberia in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:
    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia, 39
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)
    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.
    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez