After our visit to the Blue Lake near Bomi, finding a shared taxi to the turnoff for Monrovia or Sierra Leone is easy, but then, a long wait to continue towards the west. We install ourselves at a stall of a lady who does not seem to sell much; and the sun is already well on its way down when we finally find two spaces in a car. The sunset is beautiful, and then - darkness, until we finally arrive in Kinjor. Finding a place for the night is a little bit of a challenge: a lady with very simple accommodation charges too much, and I end up in the bed of another lady who is willing to rent out her own place for the night, and even cook for us. We end up eating in her room, with a DVD with tacky video clips of romantic songs from the 1980s. After hearing rats run around the room and waking up under a coat hanger with bras and whigs, it is time to explore Kinjor and the gold mine.
The gold mine can not be visited without permission, and my guide is after that. I chat with the ladies who prepare food: palmnut cooked with lots of pepper, water made into a sauce, to which smoked fish and pork are added, and left to simmer for hours. I help putting charcoal into small plastic bags, put on a table in the street for sale. Cooking is solely done with charcoal, and there is therefore a daily need for it. There is still no permission for the gold mine, and we go for a walk in town. The original town of Kinjor used to be somewhere else, but the gold mine needed the terrain, and shifted the entire town a few kilometres to the current spot. Instead of the rather haphazard way of construction of any given Liberian village, Kinjor is a regular grid of streets and alleys, all houses look similar, and are oriented the same way. We follow the charcoal provider guy, who shows us the spot out of town where wood is placed inside a pile covered by earth, where it is smoked into charcoal, cut to pieces, and taken to town. Slowly but surely, the forest is being cut down for fuel, according to the inhabitants resulting in less rain, which in turn is bad for crop harvest.
We visit a new part of town, where houses are constructed with different material. Overlooking Kinjor from here, it turns out quite big, and shockingly, the entire town lacks medical support. While having a spicy lunch from the pot that has been brewing since this morning, the manager of the gold mine calls: we would have had to request permission from Monrovia - and a visit to the gold mine is not possible. Ever since we arrived, I was prepared for this, and wonder why my guide did not properly take care of it. Instead, we walk to a nearby village which is suffering from falling water tables, effectively forcing them to buy water instead of just taking it from the source they always used. Again, the feeling of injustice: how these people are treated by their government, who strikes deals with foreign companies to mine for gold, to log for wood, but who does not take care of its own people by providing them at least minimal living conditions in return. The walk back to Kinjor is beautiful, through the forest, still untouched - but for how long? Our plan to end the day in Robertsport fails completely as my guide again underestimates timing; instead, we end up back in Monrovia, ready for adventures in the north of the country.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Kinjor Town (Liberia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Kinjor Town. Read more about this site.