Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Liberia has a branding problem, both externally and internally. For instance, the body of water surrounding the backside of Monrovia is called "the swamp."

In the foreground of this photograph (taken from a perpetually crowded bridge between the "Free" port and the downtown area) sits a curious medical building--on which is written, in gigantic letters, "Abide by the Geneva Convention." This building's island rests in the "swamp."

This cheerful pedestrian is strolling across the perpetually crowded bridge about to pass by the tiny island (a shrubbery of which can be seen in the lower right hand corner) that is situated in the "swamp." Does it seem to anybody that the glassy, reed-free water in these photographs deserves to be called a "swamp?" Might it not be more healthy for the reputation of Monrovia if it were known to be situated between the Atlantic Ocean and . . . a lagoon? As a point of information, the "swamp" does not smell bad--at least not from the bridge. I'm sure that its periphery enjoys the spontaneous latrine status of all water bodies here and smells unlike fresh daisies. But in the murky, foul, sinking, stinking sense, Monrovia is not surrounded by a swamp.

On the other side of the stripe of buildings present in the background of both photographs is an incline leading down towards the Atlantic Ocean. Monrovia is a skinny capital city on a narrow, hilly strip of land, crowded with commerce on the lower two floors and sidewalks of most streets. The handful of buildings over five stories tall do not seem to be in current use. Many of the more elaborate structures that I have seen (in Robertsport or in Monrovia) are in waiting--surrounded by various theories (some of them no doubt grounded in fact) about who has purchased the rights to return them to glory.

Surf: this weekend's surf at Robertsport was the most mediocre that I have encountered yet: a roughed up head high smaller period (11 seconds) fading groundswell that didn't have the points firing on all cylinders. However, the less toothy aspect of the swell brought out the local groms (I'd guess they were around 12 years old) who were charing what were, for them, well overhead waves--one of them on Sussanah's old 6'2" lost thruster and the other, leashless, on a fun board that he kept ditching. Along with the other more mature surfers in the water, I enjoyed lecturing them about their deplorable surf etiquette and then hooting for their gutsiness. Elie also started charging.

And on an unrelated cultural note: while digging through some of my gathered but unexplored itunes library, I discovered that a band called "Holy F*ck" (excuse me) make some excellent music for getting work done. Along the lines of the Octopus Project--no singer, no fuss.

1 comment:

  1. i'm enjoying your and elie's blogs! i'm getting your entries via igoogle home page.