Kate, a freelance reporter, Adam, works for the Clinton Foundation, and I went to Robertsport this weekend to camp and surf. We had a late start and a little trouble at a immigration check point so we arrived a little late. Why you need to have immigration check points in the middle of the country, in counties that don’t border other countries is beyond me. Unfortunately Kate had forgotten her passport so she had to pay a fine. The guards asked if in our country you could just go around with out a passport. Probably not, but you can drive from Florida to California and never be stopped at a check point. On the upside, we did get to pass over some fun little bridges that were being worked on. It was at this point Kate got out and walked. Adam and I stayed with the ship.
Once we made it to Robertsport we put the 4Runner in 4wd and cruised the beach till we found a suitable spot for camping. We found a lovely camp site underneath and old cotton tree. We setup the tent and had a fire going just as it got dark. We had a little trouble with the fire since everything was wet from the rains. Kate and Adam are both British, and they had purchased our food supplies so we had proper meals at all times. For dinner we had toasted bread and bacon or sardines and matubal. For breakfast we had toast, eggs, and tea.
We also had marshmallows after dinner. I haven’t done that in a while. We also went down to the beach and look for phosphorescence every so often we could see a little spec of light. The seas were rough so it was hard to make anything out in all the foam. We also met some very drunk South Africans who had built a small bar on the beach. The bar was empty, but they had plenty of beer. They invited us for a sit so we hung out with them for a while. They have plans to build a hotel on the beach. I think I’d rather the beach stay remote and natural. When we woke-up, they had already started drinking again. One of the guys was like a big kid, half of me was like, “this guy is ridiculous” and half of me was like, “That’s what I wana be like when i grow up.”
After packing up we started up the car to drive down to where the surf is. We made it about 10 yards before the car stalled. (To make things worse I could even get the key out of the ignition. After a little prayer I realized the car was in neutral and wouldn’t let the key out till it was in park… oops) We spent 3 hours trying to figure out what was wrong. While waiting we played with some of the kids on the beach. At one point we had a local mechanic come and look at the 4Runner.
The battery was fine so he figured it must be a fuel problem. This is logical. So we checked the fuel line under the car, it was a little loose, but nothing sever. Then we checked the fuel line in the engine. The mechanic wanted to take off the air intake hose and put some gas right into the carburetor. This would be fine, except that the truck is fuel injected. So there is no carburetor, just fuel injectors that precisely and efficiently inject gas right into the cylinder. I asked if he knew about fuel injected engines. He said yes, but then he kept trying to tell me that this little rubber vacuum hose that led into the throttle body was the fuel line. I tried to explain to him that there’s a metal fuel rail on a fuel injected engine, and that’s where the gas enters the fuel injectors . The fuel pressure would be too great for the little rubber hose he found. It was at this point that I realized we were in trouble.
Thankfully, an UNMIL staff member who was near by suggested we check the fuses. We checked them and sure enough, one had been blown. Not only had it been blown, but someone had already wrapped some wire around the fuse to short it out. This wire had fallen loose and caused our problems. We refitted the wire and the cart started fine. I was a little worried about this since fuses are there for a reason, and something at some point had blown it. So I decided to take the truck to a mechanic when I got back to Monrovia.
In the meantime we went surfing. The waves were great. I wish I had pictures but the surfing beach is a hike from where the cars go and we didn’t want to bring valuables with us. The biggest waves were about 6′ high. It was easy to get out and a lot of fun. I even caught a little wave. My only complaint was that it was a little crowded with 5 other surfers in the water at one break, and they were all better than me. So they’d catch a wave before I could and I’d get out of their way so my board wouldn’t get ran over again.
On the whole it was a fun trip with a little excitement. We made it back to Monrovia just fine. We didn’t even get stopped by immigration. The next day I went to the Toyota dealership. I figured they’d have the diagnostic computer for the engine. I wanted to make sure the hack job on the blown fuse hadn’t damaged the engine control unit (ECU). But they didn’t have the diagnostic computer! They only had the one for diesel engines. I asked if anyone in the whole country had it and they told me No Lemon did.
So I went to No Lemon. This place was awesome. It even smelled like a garage in the States. In 3 hours they replaced the blown fuses, tested the ECU, found that the wrong sparks plugs were in the truck, and that the fuel filter had been put on backwards. They fixed it all and then washed the car, all for $125.00. Not too bad. The guy I bought the car from had boasted about how he had only used genuine Toyota spark plugs, he even showed me the receipts. So either he went to great lengths to decieve me, or his mechanic was ripping him off. I imagine it’s the latter.
And special thanks to Kate for taking all these pictures and documenting our adventure.