The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #157

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A reader writes:

Oh, sure, tease us with Glencoe, Scotland – easy enough that even I got it – and then whip-snap us back with a could-be-just-about-anywhere photo. Well, it’s pretty much assuredly Africa someplace. So I’m guessing Freetown, Sierra Leone, mostly because I know it rains there a lot and when I first looked at the photo what first appeared to be open parachutes I now realize are raindrops.


You tricksters!! It’s from the same place in Scotland but from the back of the B&B rather than the front.

Heh. Another:

Well this is a fair bit harder than the Scottish inn. Not much to go off of here. Let’s see, the climate and palm trees seem very Caribbean. A new Dodge pickup, with the corrugated roofs mean this probably isn’t a tourist area, but neither is it one of the poorest. The most likely countries seem to be either Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo is the choice, but without good ground level views of the area it’s mostly a blind guess.


With so little to go on, I’ll go with a place that I’ve been that this most reminds me of: Bissau, Guine-Bissau, a place I spent some time in the mid-1980s and somewhere I can say that no one else I’ve ever met has visited.  It was under Marxist rule at the time and foreign visitors were very rare.  The country had wrestled its independence from the Portuguese and the outcome of the separation was a country as lacking in basic necessities as any I’d ever seen.  This photo gives me the same feeling.


This appears to be taken from the South African embassy to Equitorial Guinea. The concrete wall embassy-photo_hmwith the barbed wire strongly indicates some kind of embassy or consulate, and the lushness implies something near the equator. Initially I thought it might be in Africa somewhere, because of what appears to be a woman carrying something on her head, so I did a few Google searches with “embassy” and “africa” and quickly hit the web page for the South African embassy. Same type of construction in the wall, same barbed wire on top, and the locale fits. Here is the website to the embassy. On their page was the attached image.


Russian Embassy D 27, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire? This is just a guess as it seems possible given the view on Google maps. I give myself about a 1/250 shot of being right.


This one is nearly impossible unless you’ve been there. The taxi style rules out a lot of West and Central African countries, assuming this one is representative of typical taxis in the country. There are a few options that come to mind, but I’ll just take a stab in the dark and claim this to be the outskirts of Douala, Cameroon.

Another nails the right African city:

I’m going to guess that this is Monrovia, Liberia, adding to your recent series of VFYW contests that include some West African cities (such as Abuja, Nigeria last year and more recently Accra, Ghana). A couple of things give this away: first the walls, which take a lashing this time of year due to the rainy season and are therefore quite waterlogged and stained – not for nothing that Monrovia is one of the rainiest capitals on earth. Second, the yellow taxi in the picture – they are ubiquitous in the city but are quite hard to get during rush hour. I could zoom in enough, I would bet that is a Liberian license plate. Finally, the women carrying their goods from the market. Am I right?

Yep, along with a half-dozen other readers:

No obvious geological or architectural features to go on. The flora and dress of the people lead me to Western Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria) although I wouldn’t be completely surprised if it were Haiti or the Dominican Republic.  After studying pictures from Liberia, it seems that walls with barbed-wire tops are common in Monrovia, Liberia. Also of note is the yellow car, which I assume is a taxi. Images of Monrovia are filled with them. Without Google Street View (and lack of time given the non-weekend days) this is as close as I can get. I’m going to throw out the Cape Hotel because I see a communications tower in one of the pictures of it, but I know it’s wrong. The reader who finds this window is far better than I am at this.


Ok – so it’s been 30 years since I was in Liberia as a college student, so it’s a long shot. The white-washed cinder block walls topped with barbed wire with a woman walking along the road carrying a bundle on her head looks exactly as it might have looked in Monrovia circa 1983!  I still have some tie-dyed fabric in the same orange color that she’s wearing. Honestly!  What appears to be a microwave tower in the background might place the scene closer to the old Voice of America antenna farm in Careysburg, outside the capital city Monrovia. However, the Dodge Ram pickup (an expensive truck anywhere, but especially for West Africa) might place the scene in Sinkor, Monrovia’s poshest neighborhood.


This is my first time entering one of these contests, and it’s probably spurred by wishful thinking on my part. but I think this is a view of one of the transmitter towers at Radio Station ELWA in Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, most likely viewed from the other side of Robertsfield Highway and looking towards the Atlantic. It’s rainy season there now, and the black mold on the walls is typical. The yellow taxi driving on the right side of the road is another pointer for me, as is the brick-making operation in the compound across the street.

I lived on the ELWA compound for some time as a teenager, in the late ’80s/early ’90s, before my missionary family was evacuated in the face of the Liberian civil war. My father stayed behind, with a dozen other missionaries, and oversaw the transformation of the radio station campus into a refugee camp providing tenuous safety to ~25,000 displaced people. I did eventually return to Liberia, but it was 15 years later, in 2005. It’s still a breathtakingly beautiful country, even as it remains heartbreaking in its poverty and brokenness.

The winner this week is the only reader to guess Monrovia who has also gotten a difficult view in the past without winning:

I could spend the rest of the week pointlessly circling around central Africa, to which I’ve never Capturetravelled. Then I found the true awesomeness that is the Hotel Provident in Monrovia, Liberia. The photographs and comments are a delight. This is quite possibly the Worst Hotel In The World. “This government needs to shut this hotel down … DO NOT STAY IN THIS HOTEL!!!” screams the first review. It’s all there, the barbed wire, the rain soaked concrete. Yellow cabs and endless, endless rain. ” Rooms are run down and dirty and the food was cold and bad.”. Incredibly this is only number 10 out of 14 hotels in Monrovia, Liberia. I feel as if I’ve lived a life in the Hotel Provident. :)