Day 211: Into Rebel Territory

30.07.09: The driver fixed the tyre around 3am and we got into Ganta ten minutes later. I tried to check into a hotel for a few hours, but the cheapest place wanted €25 for a grotty little room that I wouldn’t pay a fiver to stay in even if it came with a Vimto lollypop. I really don’t understand how they can justify charging these ridiculous prices, in a country where most people survive on less than a dollar a day, who the hell can afford to stay there? It’s not like there’s a ton of tourists passing through these parts. Gah! So I headed over to the shared taxi area, asked them to wake me when the taxi was full and slept in the passenger seat. In the end, it was taking so long to find anyone else who wanted to head on to the…

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Day 210: V is for Visa

29.07.09: Shadi woke me up at the reasonable time of 7am and I made ready to do my thang – first off to the bank for readies (which I couldn’t get for love nor, indeed, money). I ended up converting my emergency CFA, the currency that most countries in West Africa use (except for the awkward Anglophone colonies that insist on printing their own money (sound familiar?)). Then, off to the Cote d’Ivoire embassy – which had recently moved – so I spent a good couple of hours walking about trying to find the damn place. Monrovia, like Freetown, is devastatingly impoverished – everything is in a state of half-repair – the roads, the buildings, the people. Most of the small businesses in the embassy area are shacks at the side of the road and many, many people listlessly stand about, as if waiting for the…

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Day 209: His Darkest Days

28.07.09: The popcorn was sweet. Just like Sierra Leone. I sprung out of bed at the unholy hour of 4am, because that’s when I heard that the bus left for Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. When I got to the ‘bus station’, there was no bus, but to be fair, there was no station either. So I paid for a spot in the bush taxi for the border (I was the first to arrive and so I bagged the front seat) and waited for the damn thing to fill up. It was after 9am before we left. I could have had a lie in. Ack! But none of that matters, because I bought some popcorn from a lady sitting at the side of the road. Homemade and in a polythene bag, joy of joys: IT WAS SWEET. And fresh. Oh yeah. I decided there and then,…

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