Enjoy this Liberian adventure from the Director of Liberia Mission, Greg Caudle:
Eliana and I attended the closing Mass for the Year of Mercy at the end of November. This was the extraordinary jubilee year that Pope Francis called for in 2015 that ran from last December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, to the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 20th last month. It was held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Shrine in a town just outside of Monrovia called Virginia. You will find that many place names in Liberia are influenced by America. It is said that Liberia is the closest the United States ever came to establishing a colony in Africa.
We went to the Shrine in the Mission van together with about 16 current and former residential students and the Director of Religion. The Mission van carries many people anytime there is a special outing. We pray for safe travels when we set out on Liberian roads. This should be done anytime you travel, even in the U.S. with all our safety regulations, but in Liberia it feels a little more pressing. We are fortunate to live near a paved road. Even with its potholes and jarring speed bumps near town, it is better than the true off-road conditions you find most everywhere else. You know you are on a real Liberian road when the Crucifix on the Rosary hanging from the van’s rearview mirror is hitting the roof!
The constant buzz of motorcycles flowing through traffic like water, adds to the chaos of lane-less roads and intersections without streetlights or stop signs. Motorcycles are a common transportation method. Don’t think Harley-Davidson or Honda sport motorcycles. These are more basic, but they are effective in navigating through snarled traffic and potholed roads. You can regularly see motor bike drivers carrying two or three passengers (no side car) passing so close that side mirrors tap or passengers’ shoulders rub.
Emissions testing in Liberia is non-existent so you are guaranteed to get a mouthful of diesel exhaust everywhere you go. We drive with the windows down since there is no air conditioning. Some cars and trucks emit so much noxious fumes that they have a persistent dark cloud following them. This makes stop and go traffic, which is common in and around Monrovia, almost unbearable. One time a large truck with its side tailpipe the same height as our windows shot a cloud of exhaust into our van – yuck!
In my next post, I will share about our time at the Mass with some pictures and video. I will also share our adventure getting back home that day!
Advent Blessings! -Greg Caudle