Liberia: Candy From Strangers

| Wed Nov. 10, 2010 7:00 AM EST

Editors' Note: Laura McClure is traveling in Liberia this month on an IRP Gatekeeper Editors trip organized by the International Reporting Project (IRP).

Well, it's either a minor West African miracle or a Potemkin village conspiracy. So far not one Liberian child has asked me for pens, money, candy, stamps, my photo, their photo, a plane ticket, a tenfold price increase on a tourist item, or any address in the US.

I've traveled through 7 West African countries and never been this...not harassed. Good on you, Liberia! I imagine this attitudinal shift could make international funding for local fair-trade coffee projects, rainforest eco-lodge construction, and wandering-Australian-friendly surf camps a little easier to come by. Perhaps your neighbors could learn from this beautiful, baffling development. (Togo, I'm looking at you.)

MoJo Facebook fans: I've got your notes; thanks for your thoughtful questions. Answers coming this week after I track down the appropriate people here in Liberia. In the meantime, if you want to read a book about West Africa that will make you actually laugh out loud, here it is: Blue Clay People, William Powers' hilarious/excruciating account of life here as an NGO official focused on forest conservation. I'm reading it now; I'm at the end of Chapter 3 if you want to join me in an impromptu mini book club this week. (Spoiler alert: His guinea pig breeding experiment may run into a snag or two.)

Stay tuned for more Africa dispatches. Next post: Meet the women peace activists who ended Charles Taylor's bloody war. [PHOTOS AND AUDIO, GODS AND WIFI WILLING]

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