Sunday, May 1, 2011

Camping in Buchanan [for the last time]

After canoeing across rivers and exploring Edina, we set out for our favorite camping spot in Buchanan. We have camped in this spot multiple times, and we absolutely love it! It's beautiful, secluded and just a great escape from our normal routine.
We had a few hours before the sun went down, so we did alittle swimming, enjoyed a long walk on the beach to collect shells (I've never seen so many shells in one place in Liberia) and did some rock climbing. As daylight faded, we set up camp and collected firewood. We started our fire, started making our dinner (Denty Moore stew on top of mashed potatoes) and settled in for an enjoyable night around the fire. We talked and laughed, had a visitor that we gave our leftovers to, laughed some more, enjoyed the stars and then began to settle in the sand for the night.
I think we all drifted off to sleep around midnight. But less than an hour later, Deb popped up saying, "Josh, Josh...did you hear that?! It sounded like an explosion." I was still half out of it, but rolled over to figure out what was going on. Deb thought she heard something near the truck, so she clicked the remote so the light would flash and the alarm would beep. As soon as she hit the remote, you could hear someone running off into the bush.

CRAP! Someone WAS around the truck...and were there more people?! We waited a few minutes because we didn't know what we would find, and then we all approached the truck. The driver's side window was completely gone and there was glass all over the sand and on the seat. We all started shinning our lights around the beach and the treeline, wondering if we were being watched. We walked around the truck, and realized that there were multiple attempts to break the passenger window, but they were unsuccessful.

Amazingly enough, we called the Emergency Response Unit in Monrovia to ask for a contact in Buchanan. We were give a number, spoke with a very helpful police officer who told us they were on their way to us. We waited for awhile, but still aware that someone could still be around, so we jumped in the truck and just wanted to get to the road. We ended up meeting the police on the road, and they wanted to see the crime scene. We went back to our beloved camping spot to show them the glass in the sand, and then began to follow them to the police station. We were alittle spooked, and when the police headed away from town and into darkness, we decided to head to town to get friends, and then we'd find the police station. We called the police officer and told him that they were driving too fast, so we lost them, and would be at the station soon. We went to wake up Cramer and Alvina and Alvina's dad and then went to the depot. It was literally 100 yards around the corner from where we decided to turn around...but you can never be too safe.

We figured out that the things stolen were: the cooler, a refugee bag with minimal cooking supplies and Josh's backpack with his clothes, Bible, phone and camera in it. We had to fill out a report, drive our truck to another place to leave it for the night (since there was no window) and then ended up invading the Smith house, where six of us piled onto two mattresses on the floor that Alvina's family members had given up for us. We got a few hours of sleep, but then had to be back at the police station at 8am to give our statements. Deb and Josh went to the station--Deb was the one dealing with the police officer on the phone, and Josh because his things were stolen. They came back later and said that me and Davy had to go and give our statements too. It was pretty funny--a handwritten 'form' where I had to put my name, DOB, tribe, mother and father'snames, and the time, location and scene of the crime and the police report. Then we waited around for the UNMIL Police to show up with a digital camera so that they could take photos of thetruck for evidence. After the photos were done, we went back to the Smith's house for lunch (potato greens and red oil), went on a driving tour of Buchanan and then headed back to Monrovia.
The police told us the following morning that they probably knew who took our things, but that they couldn't go investigate because there was no fuel in the pickup truck. We realize that we will most likely never get our things back, but we were so grateful that nobody was hurt and that there was no altercation on the beach! Everybody is safe...and things are just that, things. We joked that whoever got Josh's backpack now has a Bible, and the police will probably go looking for our things (since there's a few valuables) and they won't have to wait on UNMIL anymore because they'll have their own digital camera, haha.
Needless to say, it was a memorable weekend. We are mostly bummed that we will no longer be camping in Buchanan...and that was our favorite getaway. I guess we can still take day trips there...or stay at the Smith house!

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