Sunday, November 8, 2009


I guess it used to be that once the dry season began, you wouldn't have a drop of rain for months. That isn't the case any more, probably because of Climate Change, not that I am in a position to say.

But, as different as the clouds and sky are here, the rain is also really something else. It seems to rain all at once, rather than in drops. More like, sheets, or ropes, or daggers. It hits your skin hard, with a violence. It makes a huge sound when it impacts on all the metal roofs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Redemption Road

Its a bit difficult to get pictures of this area, which is below Capitol Hill, behind the Barclay Training Ground, south of Central Monrovia. Anyway, it is, in my opinion, a spot with totally fantastic potential to be a public space and a real asset to the city.

As it is, however, it is a largely neglected, derelict zone, with stinking garbage everywhere. But much of the city is like that.

I know I am no professional photographer, but I really hope that these images convey the inherent potential of this area to be a jewel of the city.

Monday, November 2, 2009

African Sunset

My Neighborhood

I've said since I moved in that's been really a nice change to live in an actual neighborhood. This is the view of my end of 9th Street. As you can see, there is a basketball court on the street.
What's interesting to me is that when I tell locals that I live near the basketball court, everyone knows what I am talking about. It goes to show how small the city really is, and what sort of things people here pay attention to.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Yet Another Awesome Sunset

The view from this new apartment is really great. I looked up long enough from my work to be able to appreciate last night's sunset

Saturday, October 31, 2009


This little child is my friend's mother, and his sister's daughter. Since I am his "brother", this little girl is also my niece. In fact, her mother let me chose her name, so I proposed Abigail, which is my recently-deceased grandmother's name.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

View from the apartment

I hope its not boring that I keep posting so many pictures of clouds, but I have always looked to see the differences in the sky from one part of the world to the other. West Africa is definitely a lot different from what I am used to seeing, with huge clouds forming in both the rainy season and dry periods.
I really like the view from this apartment, which has a couple of large balconies with a panoramic vista over the Mesurado River and looking toward Central Monrovia and the Freeport. I am telling you, this is really a beautiful city.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Football Grounds at Spriggs Payne/Fish Market

This week, I read in the paper about the Airport Authority's effort to remove the squatters from the area and reclaim the land as their property. The next time I drove by, I saw this banner, stating roughly the same.

Its a difficult, complex situation. On the one hand, the Airport is right. Its their property, and it is really important to re-establish property rights as part of a proper, rule-of-law environment.

On the other hand, this dusty little spot is one of the few public recreation spots in the whole city, and it is very prominently situated along the main road into town (it is even mentioned in a New York Times article about Hilary Clinton's visit). I just wish that the place could remain as it is (and by that I mean have a significant investment to make it a true public park), rather than reverting to the domain of the airport authority, where it will likely not be as publicly used as it is in its current state.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chinese Model Homes

These are the model homes that Hainan Century of China is building on behalf of the National Housing Authority. They're OK, a bit small (and close together) and there's nothing particularly interesting about them. Its also not the best that they decided to fill in this marshland to build one of the models. The Chinese came in earlier this year with statements to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, and build tens of thousands of homes in months. Well, this what they have done so far...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Around Downtown on a Sunday

Today after church, my friend and I took a walk around downtown, which was nice since the normally choked and noisy streets were mostly deserted. I like taking pictures without a lot of clutter around (and by clutter I mean cars and people). I got some good shots for the Architectural Tour, which I made add in:

The Corner of Randall and Ashmun Street, normally snarled
Randall Street looking south. Normally two lanes of traffic trying to be six
Randall Street looking south from Ashmun (Episcopal Church Plaza at right)
Ashmun Street looking west towards Snapper Hill

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Children here love having their picture taken, especially with a digital camera, when they can see themselves on the screen immediately after. For many of them, its a very rare event, and there is this look of surprise when they see themselves.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A couple of beautiful trees

I took a few shots when walking around Sekou Toure Avenue on Mamba Point today of particularly excellent horticulture. The plantings and gardens of this city are definitely one of its more beautiful aspects, and I have always been a fan of Norfolk Pines and Sago Palms, which I really only knew as houseplants before coming to Africa.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Flag Day Weightlifting Competition

I was invited to a weightlifting competition today in Joe Bar market, on the Old Road section of Sinkor. Its a holiday here (flag day) so the gas station was simply taken over, and some guys brought out the equipment from a nearby gym, run by Mr. Big (the large guy in the brown and yellow striped jersey) who is a former Mr. Liberia. He seemed to be the main organizer of the event.

As you can see, there were a lot of people there. It was sort of nice to see all the kids, as I like to think of weightlifting as a healthy way to encourage young people to care about themselves and their health.

As the only non-Liberian present, I was something of a celebrity, and curiosity, and sponsor, and announcer...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

USA->Greatest City in the World

Heading back from my time back in the States. Flying Brussels, stopped in Abidjan (the routing is BRU-ABJ-ROB-BRU-ROB-ABJ etc, about 4 times a week).

Friday, July 31, 2009

View from the Palm Hotel & Bamboo Bar

The Palm Hotel is situated on the corner of the most important intersection in the city, (and the perhaps country): Randall and Broad Streets, the center of the original Monrovia. The rooftop has a fine bar and Chinese Restaurant, the Bamboo Bar, with a superb view over the bustling scene, including the Old Executive Grounds (see the Architecture Tour).

By the way, I don't think the place is run by the Chinese. I am pretty sure that the owner is Lebanese. However, the Chinese food is pretty good, but I also like the Garden Restaurant in Congo Town.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friends House for Dinner

My friend and his brother had me over to his house in Gaye Town for a meal today with his parents. It was nice to hang out with a family, kids, etc. We are rice and soup, of course, with a potato green sauce.

Its the rainy season here (although it hasn't rained very much at all) and my friend's house is really in the swamp, so sometimes there is flooding, and sometimes crabs come up through the floor.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Palm Butter in Fiamah

I was invited by my friend's girlfriend to her house for palm butter. I can't even microwave at home, so I am not the one to recount how you make palm butter, although more than a few of my Liberian friends have tried to explain how you take Palm Nuts, crush them, boil them, and then some other steps, until you have this nice, creamy, nutty sauce.

To be completely honest, Liberian cuisine has taken some getting used to, due to the selection of meat in the dishes. I like the variety, in a way-- some fish, some chicken, some shrimp, etc. But no matter what, I can't get used to the bones, or the skin, or beaks, or scales, or tails, or jaw bones, etc.

At home, I have my cook prepare the meals with only the chicken breast and other white meat, or filet the fish. Other than that, I love the sauces, especially kidney beans, okra, and cabbage. Palm Butter is virtually the national dish of Liberia, and I prefer it over potato greens or goat soup.

Friday, July 17, 2009

No Free Sitting!

This notice is stenciled on the wall of one of my favorite local joints on 3rd Street, Sinkor, where I go on Fridays sometimes. The Club Beer is cold, and the music is loud. There is even wait service at the tables. But they do have this policy. It isn't the only example around town, a lot of local bars and restaurants have signs like this, but I like the phrasing of this one. In fact, I love this sign so much that I had a copy made.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Clouds over Sinkor

While out and about today on Tubman Boulevard, I had to grab some shots through the windscreen of these totally excellent, mile-high storm clouds on the horizon above Sinkor. Only in Africa!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ministry of Defense Tour

Already my favorite building, I finally got a chance to head to the Congo Town Back Road Junction and see if I could get in to the old Ministry of Defense.

Actually, as I think I mention in the Architectural Tour, its hard to know what to call it, since it is sort of old, at this point, but also new, as it was a purpose-built replacement, and was never occupied, so has never been used. Once and Future has an appealing ring to it, but then again who knows about the Future part…

Anyway, as I suspected, the guys who I encountered at the entrance, whether they are really security or not, were very friendly and accommodating, and helped me make my way around the building. I'll add these images to the Architectural Tour if I can, as there were a lot of great shots of the building, its massive interior courtyard, as well as the view from the roof.

As I've said before, if Monrovia is post-colonialism's Rome, then the Ministry of Defense is its Coluseum.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Marshall, Marshall, Marshall

Furthering my research on building material procurement, I drove down to Marshall today. That is, the entire length of the road, all the way to the village at the end of the peninsula. Its a pretty long drive, over a not particularly great road (not paved).

It was definitely a worthwhile trip, aside from the work stuff, its obvious that Marshall is on the verge of a building boom. More than one stretch of beach was completely cleared of trees, in anticipation of a major construction, although no one I know in town had any specifics (but its probably another hotel). I know a lot of people own land out there, and it would make a perfect sort of Hamptons to Monrovia's Manhattan.

The village of Marshall itself was a really great fishing community, with a lovely, if neglected, stretch of beach.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In the BUSH

More Materials/Procurement research, this time more local to the city (although in Margibi County). I was looking for bamboo, or at least, what I am used to calling bamboo. Liberians call it something different, and to them, "bamboo" comes from a palm tree, and I think they even call something else "palm." If I understood it, I would explain it. Anyway, it was a nice afternoon, and a stark contrast to the city, even though it was only a few miles out of town.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thinker's Beach

I've finally started integrating myself into the "ex-pat" routine a bit. For example, I've been hanging out at Thinker's Beach on Sunday afternoons, which is full of foreigners. Its definitely a nice beach, with decent food, and a lively scene. Thinker's Village itself is undergoing a pretty significant expansion, at the moment, with the addition of a huge hotel building.

What's also nice about Thinker's is that you can walk down past the complex, to deserted stretches of beach. Be careful, however: I've seen needles on the beach, among the other refuse that has washed up, and I've also heard from other Americans that they were mugged and knife-point, which is shocking in that it is usually so rare.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Old French Embassy

Walking down UN Drive in the heart of Mamba Point today, I came upon gate to the former French Embassy, which I talk about in the Architectural Tour as a place of particularly grim historical importance. Well, I could resist the enticement any more, and I gave a knock.

The man there, who may or may not have been security, allowed me to tour the site, which is totally incredible as a modernist ruin. The pictures speak for themselves, I think. I really hope this complex is preserved, and doesn't get knocked down.

Tweets by @moved2monrovia