Today I bought a 150cc Tonda dirt bike. No, I don’t mean Honda; I mean Tonda. As best I can tell, it’s the Chinese rip-off of a Honda. In the States the dealer would get their pants sued off by Honda for copyright, patent, and trademark infringement. I was told by the dealer that I bought it from that Honda parts would fit on it. It’s still a cheaply made bike – kind of like the Huffy of motorcyles. Even though it looks ready for off-roading with big shocks and tires, it has a sticker that says, “for street use only.” Though on the streets in Monrovia, what’s the difference? And for $1,350.00 for the bike and two helmets, who am I to complain. The 2nd helmet is to ensure the safety of any friends who ride along with me.
I took it for a spin around town. It was a lot of fun. Especially the dirt roads. And it, according to the owner’s manual, uses 2.4 liters per 100km. This is certainly better than the 15mpg my truck gets, which is good because gas here is close to $5 a gallon. Though, I think both the bike and the truck are equally bad for the environment.
At any rate, I’m way excited about not having to wait for a cab or pay a driver. It’s kind of a pain trying to get stuff done when you’re at the mercy of cab drivers in rush hour traffic. I’ve also been told that it’s not very safe to ride in a cab here – not that this is any safer, just more fun.
I’m schedule to get a driver’s license and tag tomorrow. I had a Liberian friend, Sando, arrange for the driver’s license for me while I was in Harper. When dealing with the bureaucracy here, it’s often better to have a local do all the paper work since they’re less likely to seek a bribe from him or her. Sando and I met Saturday to plan our attack for the obtaining of the license. He told me I needed to take a driving exam and to go to the hospital to do an eye test. But then he was like, “but I took care of that.” According to Sando, I would have had to bribe the test givers anyway, so he just went ahead and did it. I now had two stamps of approval on my paper work.
The whole reason I wanted to get a license in the first place, and not carry around a five dollar bill, is to support the local government and the push for rule of law. It kind of worked.
In other news, I went to an expat party where beer bong was played. The locals at the party seemed to really get into it. I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the game. From my days at Tech I perceive beer pong to be what you do when there aren’t enough girls to talk to. Nonetheless, I was excited by the cultural exchange.
I also had a great talk with Tony and Charles, two Liberians, about the TRC. Tony was all about forgetting the past and moving on, and Charles thought it important that we learn from our mistakes. Tony’s opinion seems representative of the Liberians I’ve met. He also wanted to see a war crimes court and punishment given out to the various war lords. We’ll see what happens.