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Got Mail?

Maybe I should send holiday cards this year after all...

Maybe I should send holiday cards this year after all...

All around Monrovia, I’ve noticed post boxes springing up in the past few weeks. They are looking very shiny and new and are branded “Liberia Post: Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.” I’m intrigued…. firstly because I love snail mail (both sending it and receiving it), and secondly because everyone I speak to dismisses the Liberian postal system as non-existent and/or defunct.

I decided to find out for myself. I went to the central post office, located in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications building on Carey and Warren streets (incidentally, it is the only post office I know of in Monrovia, which makes me wonder what the point of the post boxes is if you need to go to the main post office to buy postage…).  I was able to buy stamps to send letters abroad, but enquiries about expected delivery time were met with a shrug. We’ll see if they arrive…

The post office even sells postcards, although only two kinds – one postcard with a picture of cute Liberian kids (of which I purchased the last two in stock), and one postcard with a picture of the… post office. Yes, you read that correctly. On the back is the caption “Angular view of the post office.”

When it comes to receiving post, the prospects are not so good. There is no residential postal address system in Liberia. Buildings aren’t numbered and there is no address for where I live. If you want to give directions to a place, the best you can do is name the road it’s on, reference the cross street or a nearby landmark, and maybe give the name of the building (if it has one).

Even if there were street numbers, there is no system for delivering post to houses. All Liberia has at the moment in the way of mailing addresses is P.O. boxes. Government offices and businesses often have them and I do know people who have received mail that way. I’m going to ask a few dedicated friends to write me via P.O. box and see if it works. Needless to say, companies like DHL do a very good business in Liberia, profiting from the inadequacies of the Liberian postal system.

In the meantime, I want to know where I can buy stamps to use those new post boxes…


About Home Strange Home

I first left the US in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Since then, I’ve spent 13 years living abroad - 3 in Canada, 7 in Europe, and 3 in Africa. Now I've finally returned to the US on a one-way plane ticket. I arrived home in late January 2014 and set foot in the US for the first time in nearly 2.5 years. In Home Strange Home, I blog about the ups and downs of my re-acculturation experience.

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