"From Peace Corps Teaching 1973, back again." Top 5 Page for this destination Liberia by melosh

Liberia Travel Guide: 63 reviews and 188 photos

Back again after 33 years

In 2008, after 33 years I headed back to Liberia. Liberia is not a tourist destination, nor should it be. I lived and worked there for more than 3 years so I have a personal connection with the place. It was before the tragedy of years of violence. Currently I have two friends who have returned to Liberia again to try to help with the healing. This made it possible for my wife and I to initiate a teacher training project. The result has been 9 trips in 7 years and a wonderful "Liberia Reads!" program in 16 schools.

For me going back to Liberia has been it was long trip in physical distance and in time. I first went back with some sense of trepidation. So many people had died even before Ebola. Would I find anything the same? Would there be anyway to help? The rewards have been great because the teachers we are working with care about helping children learn to read.

Still not a good tourist destination.

Liberia must be one of the most non-touristic, reasonably safe (for now) places to visit in the world. For me it was a bit like a trip into the past.

It was a poor country then, and it is poor now. In fact, much of what I saw was the same, only older and more worn. The capitol was maybe 5 times more populous with people over-flowing the sidewalks and streets. Traffic was much worst and there has been a tremendous deterioration in the availability of public transportation. Small taxis dominate, but they often function more like little buses.

Along the main potholed road going up country the extent of deforestation is dramatic. You can see evidence of individual initiative such as the production of charcoal, furniture, and mats, but the biggest industry may be international aid programs. Latex and iron ore production is making a comeback.

For an undeveloped country prices are relatively high (including those for local products and services) fueled by the high dependence on imported goods. Compared to Europe or America this would not be a significant problem if there was something great to see.

(For one suggestion of something you might do that could produce a once in a lifetime experience see my tip on going to a village for local dancing.)

Again I am "Pleebo boy" from near Cape Palmas

What has not significantly changed is the warmth, friendliness and curiosity of the people. I really enjoyed my visit. Partly this was because of my still valid familiarity with the ways of Liberians. It was easy for me to return to being "a Pleebo boy" from the far eastern part of the country. I even remembered greetings in the Grebo dialect. (One of about 70 dialects spoken in the country). Being able to establish personal connections is critically important in Liberian culture.

I am sure a first time visitor would not be as comfortable. In many ways I felt at home.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The people are still open, friendly and curious
  • Cons:Horrid poverty, recent trauma, a bit wild
  • In a nutshell:Not for the casual tourist
  • Last visit to Liberia: Jul 2015
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (10)

Comments (4)

  • canuck68's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    That was a very interesting read about Liberia Bob. Did you ever revisit the idea of starting a school or clinic there? I think I'll give the country a pass. Your pictures made it look quite good though.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Mar 30, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Hi Bob. You have certainly seen some interesting places.I enjoyed reading your impressions.Africa has so many problems-I wonder if they will/can ever be sorted. So sad- its a beautiful country.

  • melosh's Profile Photo
    Mar 19, 2009 at 3:11 AM

    it was nice meetin u in Liberia hope to see you again

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Oct 19, 2006 at 2:41 PM

    Nice to read about your first experiences in West Africa. In Ghana we drunk palmwine at almost every occasion.

melosh Used To Live Here!


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