By Wynfred Russell
Maryland is at the southeastern most tip of Liberia [West Africa]. First established as a colony of the U.S. State of Maryland in 1834 to settle manumitted slaves from that state, it was granted independence as the Republic of Maryland in 1854, and later joined the Republic of Liberia as Maryland County in 1857.
Harper, the capital city, is an alluring, small-town that feels like the prize at the end of a long treasure hunt. It is a gem, shingled with decaying ruins that hint at its former grandeur. The city is a headland that consists of a tiny, rocky peninsula connected to the mainland by a golden sandy isthmus. Immediately to the west of the peninsula is the estuary of the Hoffman River.
Also known as Cape Palmas, Harper offers breathtaking scenic beauty punctuated by giant boulders. Discover a place where visitors become citizens. And schedules are optional. It hosts some of Liberia’s most iconic landmarks like the lighthouse on the cape. The structure of this coastal region consists of textbook rocks-and-valley topography, ideal for cliff diving. Destinations can be located by maps, but only found with the soul. It is discovered when you leave expectations behind and just indulge. Its tranquil and pristine beaches are worth a visit.
But, with all the beautiful beaches and picturesque sceneries of Maryland County, there is a mystic side to this former republic that will give a new meaning of dereliction. Harper city highlights the ghostliest abandoned places in Liberia; though, every single structure has its special appeal. However, beneath all the mold, dust, rust and cracks, there are stories of people who used to live, play, and raise their children there, and when you try to imagine these people and their lives, each building gets a unique aura of nostalgia. It is as if Marylanders just packed up and left for Monrovia or the United States and never looked back. On the flip side, it is also fascinating to see how some things that used to belong to people of consequence are slowly being reclaimed by nature again.