I’m really behind in my blogging so I’m trying to catch up. A couple weeks ago my good friend Parker McGee came into town for a week. Parker, who is a computer science undergrad at Georgia Tech, has been working alongside me on our TRC related projects. Parker did all the implementation of the graphic design of the TRC webpage, and a good deal of the other coding. He now handles things State side while I’m in Liberia.
Parker flew in on the week before my boss, Michael Best, and my boss’s boss, Bill Long, were scheduled to arrive and the week before the TRC would be in the US to hold hearings in Minnesota, which I was supposed to setup a live webcast of for viewing in Monrovia. This was going to be a busy week.
Thankfully, this week was also when 2 of my roommates were out of the country. So Parker got his own room in what is called the “real world apartment” in the A-Z building of Mamba Point. Speaking of the A-Z building, I received my first piece of corporate mail in Liberia. A few weeks ago I was trying to find out what my dividend was from REI and I decided to go ahead and update my address, “why not”, I thought. Then, I got a call from someone saying they had a letter for me. I met the mailman at my place and he had my REI dividend letter in hand. I was pretty impressed with REI.
Anyway… So the most notable thing parker and I did was visit what’s left of the Ducor Hotel. In its prime the Ducor was a luxurious 5 star hotel overlooking Monrovia. Then during the civil war Charles Taylor’s Anti-Terrorist Unit (The ATU) took over the place and destroyed it. When we walked around it you could tell that it used to be really nice. Hanging from the ceiling was what’s left of a central HVAC system. I haven’t seen such a system in 6 months. Our driver knew a few of the guards at the hotel so we were able to get in without any trouble. I’m told that the former Libyan owners are planning on opening the place back up. As such, they have hired some security and kicked all the squatters out. When we got there we were lucky enough to have our own armed UNMIL escort. Parker said it threw him off to have a guy walking around with an AK-47 next to us. I thought it was cool.
The view from the roof is amazing. By far the tallest point in all of Monrovia you are able to see the entire city in every direction. It was really cool. We had a good view of the waves breaking around Mamba Point, which I had a chance to surf the next day. I really liked the break. The waves were decently sized and broke nice and slow and easy. Not the most thrilling ride, but just right for me. It was a little tricky getting out past the rocks. There’s no beach at Mamba Point, just rocks and water. But with some fancy footwork and careful timing we made it out all right. That day was probably my best day of surfing yet. I caught several good waves that took me for nice long rides. I even got some practice carving it up.
I liked it so much that I came back to do it again the next day. This time I brought Parker. Parker said when he lived in California he had gone surfing so I felt pretty good about bringing him out. Though this day the waves were really small and there just wasn’t much to ride. The waves that did break, broke a little too close to the rocks for me. I got up once when I rode the long board Parker was using. Coming out of the water Parker had his board under his arm between him and the wave. A wave came and knocked him over the rocks. Somehow he managed to escape without a cut, though the board lost a fin in the incident.
Parker and I also had the opportunity to appear on UNMIL radio to talk about Georgia Tech’s work with the TRC, plug the webcast on the TRC’s website, and talk about our work with the kiosk. I don’t have the copy of that recording yet, but as soon as I do I’ll post it.
Special thanks to Parker for all the photos.