Liberia – the abandoned mine at Yekepa/Mt Nimba national park

I woke up to the fetid smell of rotting foliage and the sounds of two locals chatting and walking past our tents. They must have been a bit surprised to have come across 8 tents and a truck in the middle of a road. It was 6.15, so I thought I would get up and go for a run up the hill. The tarmac was slippery, covered with rotting jungle and headed steadily uphill…. it was hard work. I caught up with the locals after a couple of km, one of them had a high vis vest with security written on it, and the other had a shotgun, but they were pretty friendly.

Porridge for breakfast accompanied by the buzzing of angry African Bees and flies. The plan for today was to head 10km back to a lovely water hole to camp for a night and chill out before heading into Guinea tomorrow. We made good time and took the turn off to the waterhole. We were planning on keeping a low profile, as it is better for the locals not to know we are in the area, as they are apparently not too friendly. We were stopped by a ranger half way to the campsite who was adamant that we had to turn back. Always fun and games. Eventually a park officer with an official t-shirt and brochure showed up, and a negotiation ensued as to whether we would have to pay an illegal entry fine. They knew we had been in the vicinity last night as the truck was seen in Yekepa. Zoe triumphed again and the fine was waived, but we do need to pay $19 each for entry and camping fees.  Apparently last time the truck was here the park wasn’t actually in operation and it was free. Our new friend the ranger escorted us to our campsite via a wonderful array of abandoned mine machinery from the pre-civil war iron ore mine which has taken out huge hunks of the hill.   

Aminah and the camp beside the quarry lake in the far distance

It was delightful to make camp at 1pm, dry out the tent, do some laundry using water from the waterhole (which turns out to be the result of mine digging and apparently is full of submerged equipment), wet wipe the tent and have a cup of tea. Some people went for a hike but it was stonkingly hot. Others treated us to the sight of them washing in their speedos…., (note to all, no one looks good in speedos, unless you are a world class athlete).   
I went for my second run of the day as the rains came in about 4.30. Glorious! It is astoundingly how little activity you get on an overland truck! I am going a bit nuts from sitting on my butt all day. Cook group fed us a fine and copious vegetarian tikka masala, which was helpful as there were severe grumbles at lunchtime about the meagre rations for lunch which ran out before everyone had finished.   

Aminah the truck in the mine ruins

The gossip and chatter continues to be high brow. Today’s topic was bush poo-ing. Three ladies on the truck have confessed to be fundamentally unable to poop in the bush – ”my sphincter shuts down until I find a real toilet’. Much discussion ensued from us old timer travellers who prefer to go au natural and dig out own holes rather than use flyblown pit toilets or filthy hotel loos. The squatting pose is also better for you. Eventually the nervous poopers confessed that the problem was having to publically take the trowel so everyone on the truck knows what you are doing….. hilarious! Everyone craps :-).   
Went to bed by 9pm before the gin fuelled conversation deteriorated further.

Becky coming out of our tent as the sun goes down
 Onward to guinea tomorrow!
Yekepa, November 27, 2016

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