Yeah, people always say the world is so small, but 3 days of constant travel makes you realize how big it is.
Stepping off the plane onto the tarmac at Robertsfield, the smell that hit us first. Forest fire and a rich, musty dampness. A giant UN helicopter sits at rest. I told the customs lady at the tiny airport that we were kids here and she smiled big. “You are welcome.” Entry couldn’t have gone smoother.
Our bags showed up.
We barely even got hassled by all the dudes out front, as pasty white as we are. Our main man Mickey was there to meet us in a beat up red forerunner. I know this place. Suddenly we’re not only in Liberia, but we’re also in our old neighbourhood. First stop the grocery store on the Firestone property for supplies; eggs bread, cheese, and a flat of Club beer. The Lebanese owner overseeing the operation was happy to see us spending our money. (Although we didn’t pay $23 for Special K.)
Down the road, past the airport, past the turn off to the compound where we used to live (we will visit there soon) and onto the red dirt road past Charlesville and to the gates of LIBR –(Liberian Institute of Biomedical Research) that will be our base for the month. We meet Musa, Othello, and Joe and set up camp in the second house, a red brick bungalow with screens for windows, empty except for a few pieces of furniture and the beds Musa has arranged for us. Down the road is the research station that once housed dozens of chimpanzees, but now sits dilapidated and chimpless except for a few statues that welcome you. (The chimps have been released onto nearby islands.) I feel better now that we’ve set camp and my mind movies are now becoming real. All that imagining is hard work. Ceiling fans spin as I sweat. This seems like a good place to make a documentary about ‘77, just need some 2010 mod-cons like internet and phones…