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Intercontinental Hotel Liberia

The view from the top of the battered old Intercontinental Hotel is well worth the haggle. One enters a process of gentle teasing remonstration with the soldeirs who guard the destered building. Bartering with the Nigerian peacekeepers who lounge around in the old lobby, their equipment spread about them as though they themselves are newly arrived guests awaiting the doormen to carry their gear in through the foyer, is a pleasant and slightly formal affair. The sergeant passes us on to a junior officer who in turn introduces us to a Major in a vest who had clearly been stirred from an afternoon nap. After the usual talk and introductions they wave us through the protective cordon and we are free to wander about the vast crumbling emptiness. The savage war and the internally displaced have left their mark. There is a strange sadness to the dank ambandoment. The once wealthy and famous no longer come here for an evening meal or a weekend away from work and stresses. The restaurant and kitchens on the top floor are smashed and broken, a few shining tiles not removed from the concrete flooring preserve the original place where dancers once swayed in front of the band stand. Everything is gutted, pulled from its sockets, broken and smashed in a turmoil of anarchy hard to comprehend now as one gazes across the city, watching the hawks and eagles lazily drift amid the thermals thrown up by the Atlantic.

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