The Mud
Kolahun Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
Ah!  Mud!  If there was one striking aspect
about Lofa County, it was it's mud.  The
knee deep rust cake that permeates
everything with that sweet effervescence of
dirt, stagnant water and rotting foliage. .....
uh gorgeous.  

"Dig" was our mantra.  And I loved it.  
Coming home covered in muck and sweat
from head to toe.  The giggles that
happened as you lost a shoe or did a face
plant.  Clean was an anomaly.  What else
would a boy want?.

Power, in Lofa, came in the form of  
terracota clay.  It stopped everything from
our Toyota Land Cruisers to UN tanks and
bulldozers.  We couldn't reach our sites.  In
fact we had trouble selecting sites because
no one could return to their old villages until
the roads were passable.  During the
disarmament exercise trucks carrying
medicine, food, tents etc., sat in the mud for
up to 2 weeks.  The district Vahun, was
completely cut off.  We were all stuck but we
did our level best, however slowly.  

Technically the rainy season is to last
between June 1 - October 15, but during the
year I lived in Liberia  there was a total of
three month in which we could access all
areas of Lofa County.  At points Voinjama
was completely isolated.  The road leading
to Monrovia had a variety of mud spots that
would shift over the season.  In general the
road was rather decent for a dirt highway.  
But there were a number of areas that would
get bogged down.  As one mud pit was
cleared several new bad spots would
appear.  It completely cut off our access to
food and escape routes to Guinea if security
incidents rekindled.  At times we relied
completely on UN helicopter flights fly us to
Monrovia, old russian tin cans that made
you happy to be on the ground.  

While the roads to Monrovia and Guinea
were had periods of bad times.  The road to
Kolahun was pathaetic.  We literally had
three months to access Kolahun and Foya
districts.  The roads dried up in January and
shut down again by April.  Even during the
dry period there were some nasty holes.

It's amazing how mud forges camaraderie.  
There is no doubt between the people and
agencies I worked with that our collaboration
and friendships were bond in mud.  In order
to get around this obstacle we had to band
our resources together and therefore
worked closer together.   
road in Voinjama between town and IRC office.  Lofa, Liberia
"sea of mud" on the Monrovia Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
Monrovia Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
Kolahun Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
Monrovia Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
Mud pit dug out by trucks and jeeps trying to pass
Kolahun Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
after driving the Kolahun Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
Kolahun Highway.  Lofa, Liberia
45 miles with joy like this ,Kolahun Highway.  Lofa, Liberia