5 days ago
Thursday, 16 April 2009
Liberia experienced a major tourist boom last week when a successful Toronto lawyer opted to spend almost one full week in Liberia. Despite its war-zone perception by international governments, Wilfred Estey, a co-founder of the founder of ‘The Esteyonage,’ was said to have engaged in such normal activities as hiking, swimming, shopping, taking posed photographs and dining out.
“That is downright impossible, they are in civil war!” (note: war actually ended 2003) yelled Estey’s co-worker William Esquire (Esq.) when Wilfred announced the trip, an extension to a planned vacation with his wife. “What do you have, a death wish?!? You better have written a will!” he screamed.
Esquire added on the sly that it could be arranged if he hadn’t already.
“I am amazed at how friendly everyone is,” Estey repeated hundreds of times during this week. “Even the bribes, the police scams, the tire guys increasing the price every two minutes to fix our flat... its all so friendly...and fun!”
And this kind of 'fun in the sun' is just what the government has been hoping for, as part of its Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).
“We have noted a serious increase in the tourist economy at the start of the year’s second quarter - one visitor. This is great news,” stated a very senior Liberian tourism official of the visit. “We hope this maybe will happen at least one more time this year. Maybe even twice,” he added with an optimistic smile. “Next year, we might even get into the double digits.”
Plans are already being made to house these anticipated guests.
Well over a week later, people remained shocked, but stoked on the sighting, and continue to question this man’s whereabouts.
“Myles, your dad, he was here,” stated a co-worker matter of factly, shaking my hand. “He came to see Liberia, he went back. Did he love it?”
“Your popp-ee, he has returned with safety?” asked another with concern.
“Oh yes, good,” was the general response to the news of his safe return.
News, however, that his return included freezing rain, sleet and snow were met with blank stares, followed eventually by nervous, confused laughs, and dismissive handshakes.
Now, returned to the safety of his area, the questions began pouring in: “You went where? Do you have malaria now? You’re still alive?!?”
"Liberia, now where is that?" asked the Customs Official at Pearson Int'l Airport in Toronto, Wilfred relayed by email interview. "Now why on earth would anyone wanna go there?" she retorted upon learning its locale.
Area man Wilfred Estey is now reported to have fallen seamlessly back into the work/life routine of his area, though forever changed.