Bong Mines

Monrovia Travel Blog

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Erin and me riding the train on the hood of the jeep

Today was an adventerous day.  A group of us got up really, really early had loaded a couple jeeps and headed for the train station down aways from the ship.  We were off to Bong Mines, an iron ore mine that closed down due to the war.  Its about 70km from the ship or a 2 1/2 hour train ride.  We were told to be at the train station by 7, so we did, however, the train was not ready until about 9:30, so we waited and waited and waited some more.  Finally we loaded the jeeps onto a flat bed car, strapped them down and then climbed aboard.  Most of us sat either on top of the cars, in the cars or around the cars.  The train people also had a passager car for those not quite so adventerous.  I need to explain, this train is not a passenger train, they haul cars of scrap metal and other cargo, but they offer to haul us up to Bong Mines whenever we want to at no cost.

Our train
 

So it was nice to get out of the city, see the country.  Along the tracks were small villages with simple houses, the farther into the jungle we got the more simple the homes.  Children, when they heard the train would come running and wave to us from the hills.  As the villages got more spread apart the jungle filled in.  We were told there are elephants out there and we kept our eyes peeled, but saw nothing :(  The scenery was really pretty though and we enjoyed the nice breeze.  It rained for about 10 minutes half way through, but we didn't care, its a very warm rain. 

Got to Bong Mine train station, a steel skeleton of a building, we were told b4 the war it had a roof and walls.  Loaded up the jeeps and headed about a mile up the road, past the old mine and to a quarry hidden in the hills.

Views from the train
  The lake was very pretty, stretching out a long way.  We made camp on the little 'beach' available, had lunch and changed into our swimsuits.  This is not an established beach, there are no changing rooms, bathrooms or anything else, but we made due with blankets, towels and jungle.  The water was wonderful, nice and warm and once you got past the slimy plant infested shallows, it made for a nice swim.  Don't know exactyl how deep it was, but we found a nice over hang to jump off.  The sides of the quarry are steep, shear cliffs in some places, the only way in or out that we could see was the little beach.  We swam for about an hour and then relaxed for a bit more b4 we loaded up again and headed back to the station.
Swimming in the quarry

We were told to be back by 3:30, but due to technical difficulties on loading cargo in the cars, we were delayed.  So we made due.  The station had a group of locals hanging out and selling fruit, so we made conversation.  LIberians speak english, but its so heavily accented that it might as well be a foriegn language.  A group of girls were sitting doing eachothers hair and we started talking to them.  I learned alot about their culture by talking to these girls.  One had a young baby tied to her back with a lapa or cloth.  The baby, one year old Joseph, was so cute with his two teeth and big eyes.  His mom was very talkative and told us much about life b4, during and after the war, how she once paid 150LD (liberian dollars) for a cup of rice.

Making friends at the train station
  The guys also talked to us, but mostly to get our numbers- everybody carries cellphones, and I think I became engaged to a couple of them, not quite sure how. 

Oranges are green, and are eaten by peeling off the dark green skin, but not all the way and then cutting off the top ad squishing it to get all the juice out, then you toss the left over pulp and skin away.  Quite interesting and works, its fresh sqeezed oj w/o all the work.  Met some interesting people and talked for hours, even breaking out in song a couple of times, we sing one and they sing another. 

Finally, the train was ready and we were on our way by 6.  Stopped in Bong Mine to pick a 12 yo boy who was in a car accident and broke all his teeth and maybe his jay, we were taking him back to see the dentist.  Saw the sunset from the train and then laid on the hood of the jeep and watched the stars.  It was cold and very buggy, now i know how a windshield feels.  Got back to the ship around 8:30.  I"m a little burnt and very tired, but it was a great day.

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Erin and me riding the train on th…
Erin and me riding the train on t…
Our train
Our train
Views from the train
Views from the train
Swimming in the quarry
Swimming in the quarry
Making friends at the train station
Making friends at the train station
Sunset from the train
Sunset from the train
Monrovia
photo by: Bluenose