Several surfing beaches can be found in and around the capital, Monrovia, but the coastal town of Robertsport, around 50 miles from the capital, has been described as the greatest undiscovered surf spot in Africa, offering vast stretches of deserted beaches.
I've driven from Kenema in Sierra Leone visit Robertsport, overnighting at a beach lodge. It’s yet another town at the end of a long peninsula, the bay lined with mangroves and full of those little frilly islets that proliferate on the corner of West Africa. A large fishing village runs alongside the dock. It’s grim and grey and Dickens would describe the rickety corrugated metal and wood dwellings as hovels. The streets are lined with large metal drums used to dry the fish. My welcome is varied and always cautious.
We turn a corner and the austerity is relieved by vividly painted boats reflected in the calm water and a meticulously decorated pair of buildings dedicated to Barcelona football club. This apparently is Camp Nous. There are smokeries in a grey compound adjacent to the village. The women who work here keep their belongings padlocked in the concrete cubicles round the perimeter of the smokery, which they sleep in at night. Grimmer than the Victorian workhouse.
Driver, Maladho now expects me to translate for him, as he’s having an argument with guide, Smith as (for some reason) Maladho has the cash to pay for my Robertsport lodgings. But some of it is in CFA and not the required dollars. Maladho instructs me to tell Smith to accept the CFA. Instead, I retreat to stash my belongings in a wooden chalet bungalow on a more than passable stretch of yellow sand.
There’s only one item on the menu - lobster and chips; I reflect that there could be worse choices. The food is good and I’m feeling more relaxed now, as I head back up to my bungalow for my swimming gear. Beach loungers are beckoning. Except that the key won’t turn in the lock and it’s not just me being inept. Two men fetch a pair of shears and cut into the wire mesh over the window, so that they can reach in and open the door. I’m now in the adjacent bungalow, trying to decide if I can face lobster and chips for dinner as well.
I wake to see gangs of fishermen hauling huge nets and coiling them on the beach. Breakfast is eggs and greasy bacon on the beach, the first bacon I’ve seen since I left home. Smith and Maladho are ready waiting; they slept on mats on the beach last night.
Now we are driving to Monrovia
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