On Saturday I went with a group of Mercy Ships crew to the Bong Mines, which are abandoned mines in Bong County, Liberia. We travel there by strapping our Land rovers to the flatbed of the local train, which happens to be the only working train in Liberia. We then climb atop the Land rovers and enjoy the two hour train ride through Liberia's lush, green bush.
The train ride was amazing. It's like being on a Disney ride except that it's real.
The route is filled with excited children and adults who furiously wave at the strange caravan of foreign NGO workers. Some of the kids were so excited and waved so hard that I'm not sure it was entirely healthy.
When the tracks ended we drove the Land rovers off the flat bed and up the mountain to the abandon mines. Huge empty steel frames were eerily scattered throughout the mountainside, serving as a sad reminder of Liberia's turmoils past. During the war the buildings were stripped and are now completely dysfunctional. The potential profit, revenue, and jobs simply lie broken and untouched. Wasted potential, a true tragedy.
We parked our vehicles in front of a giant lake which was perched at the base of two steep cliff sides and formed by previous mining. I hadn't planned on swimming but I couldn't stop myself from jumping in. The water was totally clear, I could look down and see all my toes while my head was out of the water. Kind of like being in the Atlantic Ocean at the Jersey Shore (that's obvious sarcasm if you've ever been to the Jersey Shore) The water was deep and unless your were standing on the shoreline you could not touch the bottom.
A few of us climbed about 20 feet up on the surrounding cliff and jumper off. Something I had always wanted to try. It was quite amazing.
It was a great way to spend my last Saturday in Liberia.