Army worms? what on earth are these attacking the crops in Northern Liberia? Seems they are a caterpillar of a moth. Insects and snakes dominated my first few weeks in Liberia, mainly through expats, not really winding you up (that did work) but it's a kind of "induction". In 1979 I arrived as a seldom drinker and emerged 6 months later as a regular drinker. I blame McCluskey, and he has carried on being an expat, where I no not where? McCluskey you're a Luddite without a pen. Liberia, my first third world country, I was seconded to Ove Arup from Stangers on a 80km road project. 40km had been built and the second surfaced dressed 40km was my materials baby. Contractors, Italian, my first and really only exposure to Italian contractors and I have to say really hard working and knowledgeable, McCluskey the disappeared one, worked for them. So a Scotsman worked for the consultant, me, and the contractor, McCluskey. When I left as I recall in Jan 1980 two weeks later the Liberian President and others were taken to the Monrovian beach and shot. Master Sargent Samuel Doe from the army was now in charge. The army worms in the world service broadcasts reminded me of Liberia and my first real expat experience. (I did some holiday relieve in Saudi before that) When you grow up in the first world the first experience of the third stays with you. Especially if its Africa cos most natural life is out to bite you. Ah Laterite soils (the African red roads you see on telly) and tales to tell of McCluskey drunk and me driving him home. There are no road fences in Liberia as a consequence all kinds of domestic and wild animals use the road. I remember well the Italian boss from Italy, not the one on site, the big boss, telling me that his driving test for a driver was to test him at night and if he swerved to miss animals he was not hired. Logic being swerving puts you in greater danger. If it was something the size of a moose, I'd be swerving!! However most livestock roaming at night are usually reasurringly small. So McCluskey and I are drinking at Patrick's farm, Patrick was an Indian fruit farmer, and a real laugh. One thing you have to understand about McCluskey is that he is 6 feet tall and when he falls asleep, he goes unconscious. I really mean you cannot waken him. The other consideration about McCluskey is his relationship with vehicles, he restores old cars, citroens for goodness sake, I mean WHY, you need to have a trained octopus to work on french cars. That can't happen in France as the octopus would be lunch as well! how do french mechanics sort these cars on their own? Anyway McCluskey after several really crap cars got a very nice Ford pickup auto, and he had it gleaming. So McCluskey has been working hard, drinks too much at Patricks and goes to sleep, and is unwakeable. Patrick being a bit of a wag sees this as a great opportunity to paint McCluskeys balls purple with some agricultural compound. I must admit to wavering, but as I did not concede Patrick reluctantly left his colouring in to another day. Time to go back to Porta del a torres compound where we stayed. We manhandled McCluskey in the passenger side and I of course had to drive. Well, I had been in Liberia for some time and was aware of the dangers. However fleeing round a corner caught in the headlights was a family of goats, unavoidable, I wouldn't have swerved anyway but there was no time to brake, blatter, right through the lot. I could hear the dull thuds. Being a 29 year old then i wasn't exactly a caring individual, I am putting this down to an age thing as I do care now. I thought, McCluskey will go nuts when when he sees the front of his pickup. Can't remember how I got McCluskey to his bed I do remember letting him fall on to it, (IĀ  had been drinking too) I got up before McCluskey, not difficult, and examined the precious Ford, not a mark, not a blooming mark. Well the goats were small and it was an American pickup, not a European type. McCluskey thanked me for not having purple balls and looking after his pickup, I never mentioned goats!. If you read this in Liberia and in late 79 lost 4 to 6 goats in a RTA, It was not me, I am a poor man with a webpage.

2 Responses to “Liberia”

  1. Ian January 30, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Just found what I think is McCluskey’s email, he seemingly is alive and well in Uganda. I wont hold my breath as it has not be ten years since he was in touch, so it’s not really my turn!

  2. Ian January 30, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    If you have a literary turn of mind Graham Greene wrote journey without maps about travel in west Africa. I think with his aunt, can you see it happening today? yeh I’m off with my aunt to see army worms in northern Liberia!!

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