Liberia: Return to My Personal Paradise

When Teri Weefur learned that she would be returning to her native Liberia (after leaving in 1990 when war broke out), she jumped at the opportunity to blog about the country for IT. Here, she shares some of her favorite experiences from her time in Monrovia.

liberian sunset.jpgAbout Liberia

As a Digital Media employee at National Geographic, I have always been somewhat disappointed in the coverage of Liberia as a travel destination, and understandably so: the 14-year civil war ended in 2003, and Liberians only just elected Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in 2006. Today, Liberia is on the road to recovery, and the people of Liberia are determined to restore her to a nation thriving with export, agriculture, commerce, and tourism. Rich in natural resources like iron ore, rubber, timber, diamonds and gold, coffee and cocoa, Liberia teems with more than 2,000 species of flora and fauna, including the pygmy hippo, unique to Liberia, and boasts numerous waterways and beautiful rain forest vistas. One of West Africa’s most pristine rain forests is the Sapo National Park, a natural wonder for ecotourists.  

I’d been hearing stories about Liberia’s big comeback, and now I would be seeing firsthand the redevelopment of a country marred by death and destruction for so many years. Armed with my brand new Fuji Film s8100fd camera, and the directives of friends and family to “take lots of pictures!” I was prepared for my monumental return home.

Crunched for time, as my obligation was volunteering with the first conference in Liberia since 1979, the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security, I gave up trying to find a way out of the city to see the most amazing parts of Liberia. Some of the country’s most beautiful sites, like Cape Mount, Blue Lake, Buchanan, and Cape Palmas, where the tented beach resort Nana’s Lodge is located, were out of my reach on this trip. But what I can provide is an introduction to the country, if nothing more than to encourage you to explore for yourself.

Where to Stay and Eat

In the little free time I had to myself, I was determined to see the capital city of Monrovia, where I grew up in the 1970s and 80s. Renting a taxi for $40 for the day, my mother and our driver served as tour guides for the city, and demonstrated that Liberia was indeed moving into the 21st century.

The first stop was at La Pointe Restaurant in Mamba Point. Though it was closed on the weekends, the owner gladly let me in to check out the breathtaking views of the ocean from the dining room. Looking over the balcony, I took in the dizzying expanse of rich greens and blues, framed by the purple bougainvillea endemic to Liberia.

Also in Mamba Point are two other hotels worth mentioning: Krystal OceanView Hotel

(Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia; +231 6 510 424) and Mamba Point Hotel, both of which offer spectacular views of the Atlantic. Krystal’s decor blends African art with contemporary design, and when I arrived, brunch was being served adding intoxicating aromas. My mouth watered from the scent of the traditional Liberian breakfast — cassava, sweet potatoes, plantains and fried fish gravy are my favorites.

Stepping into Mamba Point Hotel, I felt almost like I’d entered a hotel in Miami Beach. The tables were more conservatively dressed, but the art still reflected the Liberian traditions. Sampling a buffet of Chinese food (served with the hot pepper sauce that Liberians eat with every meal) was a bit unusual but tasted great nonetheless.

Royal Hotel, which served as our satellite office because they offer Wi-Fi, housed the Living Room, a traditional Japanese sushi bar, with eclectic art, a state-of-the-art sound system, and a modern setting. And the RLJ Kendeja Resort and Villas, developed by Bob Johnson (founder of BET), opened just in time for the Colloquium’s 500+ international guests and is proving to be one of West Africa’s finest resorts.

Across town, on Airfield Road, Ro-zi’s Gourmet Food Services is tucked away on a back road, but is certainly worth a visit. The restaurant offers a menu of Liberia fusion cuisine; sit outdoors under the stars and enjoy the natural breezes.

Monrovia Beach2.jpgSun and Surf

On my one free day, I knew had to visit one of Liberia’s many beaches. Thinker’s Beach Village

(ELWA Area, Monrovia, Liberia; +231 6 588 382), gave me amazing shots of Liberia’s beautiful sunsets. There’s not much better than listening to the sounds of people splashing in the surf over a cold Club Beer (the local Liberian brew).

Club-Hopping in Monrovia

At night, we visited several of Monrovia’s hotspots: La Noche Bar, a hip lounge downtown where UN personnel frequently gather; Deja Vu, a smoky, but lively nightclub where we danced the night away; and Palm Spring Resort & Casino (Congo Town Back Road, Monrovia, Liberia, +231 5 654 111), where karaoke, live bands, and a full casino cater to the night owl.

With so many more places to visit and report on, I can hardly call this a comprehensive list. But it is my hope to return one day soon to explore Liberia’s full potential, and to share the true beauty of my country.

You can see more of Teri Weefur’s photos by visiting her Flickr page.

Comments

  1. Edwin Flahn Harris
    Lowell, MA, USA
    January 7, 2014, 1:39 pm

    I wish many will believe in Liberia as you do. Only such frame of mind will make the sunlight to truly shine again on our doorsteps.

  2. James Wulu Dorbor Jr
    USA
    July 31, 2013, 10:05 pm

    Thanks, Teri. Well written. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. I look forward to reading another informative piece from you again.

  3. charles
    Mozambique
    March 7, 2013, 10:32 am

    I was very intresting when I read about Liberia, about the wonderfull places, and good moments that can provide….Its a amazing country I think so….Who know a day I can visit and see those things near….hugs

  4. […] that one can access to gather a varying range of opinion of Monrovia. One such resource is a  National Geographic Blog by Teri Weefur, a Digital Media employee at NatGeo. A native of Liberia, she left in 1990 in the […]

  5. P. FRASSY
    August 15, 2011, 2:54 pm

    I was in Liberia from 1961 to1977 and left so many good friends there….How i would like to have news….But this is a dream.

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    June 25, 2010, 5:54 am

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  12. Frederica Nelson
    April 30, 2010, 4:19 pm

    Thank you so much for the article, it is absolutely beautiful, and puts into perspective what so many people would like to see. I would like your permissions to use the article though, as my business partner and I are setting up or about to propose a trip for next year April, and this is an excellent intro into the purpose of the trip. We’re looking at promoting tourism to Liberia, and this seem to be a nice place to start. Some of the places mentioned in the article are the same places we have been discussing. I will send you an e-mail off line.

  13. Mattie
    January 19, 2010, 6:09 pm

    Liberia is a great place to travel to. The history of Liberia is unique among African nations because of its relationship with the United States. It is one of the few countries in Africa, and the only country in West Africa, without roots in the European Scramble for Africa. It was founded and colonized by freed American slaves with the help of a private organization called the American Colonization Society in 1821-22, it was created on the premise American slaves would have greater freedom and equality there.
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  14. jondth
    November 18, 2009, 6:07 am

    Monrovia, Liberia’s capital and largest city, is situated in the northwest part of the country on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the St. Paul River.
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  15. Paureta Johnson Teage
    April 21, 2009, 5:36 pm

    Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. Teri, your words gave us the ultimate human freedom…the power to choose, to respond, and to change. A beautiful read… Thanks.