If you are unfamiliar with the American expression S.N.A.F.U. an explanation is required before I proceed: it stands for Situation Normal All Fucked Up. Whilst scanning an online map of Liberia in preparation for the trip I was delighted to find a place so named, hence the goal of reaching this forgotten corner of the country became my prime reason for going there, sad, puerile individual that I am.
Whilst many would assume the title was an unsurprising indictment of the country’s condition I hope my earlier post on Liberia, https://insideotherplaces.com/2013/12/30/liberia-the-land-of-signs/ at least demonstrated that this would be an over simplification of the situation.
The wonders of Google Earth clearly showed that Snafu was no steaming metropolis so I had to find accommodation in the nearby town of the delightfully named Smell No Taste, so-called because US soldiers stationed there after WW II would emit tempting wafts of cooking smells for the hungry locals to salivate over, who were forever denied the chance to taste what was on offer.
Snafu is little more than a small jetty and a few shacks at the end of a dirt track, obviously named by the same US troops who provided the source for Smell No Taste. The locals had a vague idea that the name meant something related to the military presence and I am not sure of their level of comprehension for my explanation truly enabled an appreciation of why some foreign twit would go miles out of his way to have a look. They were however appreciative of my effort, as you can imagine there was hardly a regular stream of tourists to the end of their little path, only UN Pakistani troops stationed nearby who buy fish for their supper. They too expressed exasperation at Liberian English, understanding even less than me, “when we learned English in Pakistan we were told about tenses, the future, the past, but the Liberians don’t use tenses”. As a frustrated captain wailed at me in the Queen’s English.
One would have been tempted to ask the local preacher if retaining Snafu in the name of his apostolic church was entirely appropriate but alas he was not on hand to offer an opinion.