Steve & Jen meet Mr. Pavement

Many of you have probably heard by now, but last Sunday we were in a motorcycle accident.  We were coming home from lunch at a friend’s after church Sunday.  We’re still subject to Liberian public transportation since our registration for the new truck hasn’t been processed yet.  However, waiting for a taxi that can fit 2 people inside can take HOURS, so we settled on a motorbike.

Just to give you some background, here are the levels of public transportation in Liberia:

  1. Public Bus- big as a NYC bus; cheapest way to travel (15 LD… about $0.20 per person); picks you up at a bus stop and drops you at the END of the line; you don’t see too many of these.
  2. Privately-owned Bus- mini-van packed with 20+ people; next cheapest way to travel, cost depends on distance traveled; picks you up and drops you off anywhere along its route- route determined by driver.
  3. Motorcar Taxi- tiny, 4-door sedan, seating up to 3 in the front (2-people in the passenger bucket seat) and 4 in the back; cost similar to the privately-owned bus, but slightly more expensive; picks you up and drops you off along its route.
  4. Motorbike Taxi- small motorcycle carrying up to 5 passengers at a time (small children on the lap of the driver optional); most expensive form of travel other than chartering a taxi; picks you up and drops you off directly at your destination; fastest form of travel, drives around and between the lanes during traffic, proceeds to the front of all cars at red-lights; offers the benefit of “air-conditioning” when not standing still.
  5. Taxi Charter- most expensive form of transportation, costs $5-10 per trip or per hour; takes you wherever you want to go, does not stop to pick up other passengers along the way.

So, we chose option number 4… convenient, cooling, and readily available.  Our driver pulled out onto the road with Steve and myself on the back.  We’ve been traveling this way for months, why should this time be any different?  A little ways up the road a taxi was pulled to the side picking up passengers.  There is no shoulder, so often time taxis just stop in the right-hand lane.  Our driver pulled to the left side of the lane to go around the taxi- he gunned it.  At first we weren’t sure why, but as we were passing the taxi a big, green pickup truck flew by us on the left, missing us by centimeters.  Our driver and the truck passenger yelled at each other during the near miss… then the trailer hit us.  I’m not sure if the truck didn’t have time to totally clear us or if he just forgot how wide his trailer was, but the trailer, being wider than the truck, left no space between it and the taxi for our motorbike.  Steve was thrown from the back, landing hard in front of the taxi we’d tried to pass.  The driver lost control of the bike, and he and I went down with it, skidding for a couple of feet before coming to a complete stop.

When I saw the trailer I remember thinking, “So this is what it’s going to feel like to wreck on a motorbike.”  Surprisingly, I felt quite calm.  The whole ordeal was over in a matter of seconds.  Next thing I knew, Steve was already up and lifting the bike off me.  I got up, brushed myself off.  I had cuts, scrapes, and road-rash on my left arm and leg, but nothing was broken.  My dress was even in one-piece!  I asked Steve if he thought he needed to go to the hospital, but he said he was all right.  No broken bones.  After convincing the crowd of 30+ people, who had now gathered around us, that we were ok and didn’t need to go a clinic, one of the Liberians stopped an empty cab (ironically, our accident happened in the PERFECT area to catch a taxi!!) and we chartered it home.

All things considered… motorcycle vs. truck and trailer AND parked taxi, no helmets, sliding across pavement that is most likely covered in bits of broken concrete, rocks and glass… we were OK.  We KNOW God was watching us Sunday, just as He’s been watching over us every step of this journey.  As the hits keep coming, He always softens the blow and never gives us more than we can handle.

Since we’ve been here, I’ve told a lot of people, “You have to have a lot of faith to ride on motorbikes in Liberia”… faith in your driver.  However, when your driver lets you down it’s good to know your FAITH in God will always PREVAIL!!