You can catch me on Sky News Liberia…

They don’t get many tourists in Liberia. We could tell this the minute we got on the bus to go and explore the capital, Monrovia. The backs of most of the bus seats wouldn’t latch upright and just flopped backwards, so half of us were lying in the laps of the people sitting behind us. Then they tried to put the air conditioning on, but it wouldn’t work. All it did was pour water onto the people sitting underneath it … but luckily someone had an umbrella. And the driver couldn’t turn the heating off, so in a country where the air already feels like a sauna, we enjoyed furnace-like temperatures as the bus limped and spluttered into town. And some of the windows were so crazed that you couldn’t see a thing out of them. So we sat, wet and sweating, peering hopelessly through opaque glass and feeling as though we were in one of Dante’s circles of hell .

Tourists are rare here and therefore a big deal. We were the first tourist ship to dock in Liberia for twelve years and they didn’t have any tourist visas for us – we all had to carry Alien Crewman passes. They also knocked down the price of a visa from $165 to $25 to encourage us to tell our friends what good value a trip to Liberia is.

We were heading out to watch a dance performance that was being put on in our honour, with traditional Liberian dances and some extremely flexible acrobats. We tottered damply off the bus and were met by drummers and barefoot dancing girls in grass skirts, but I felt that the spectacle would have had more impact if it had been in a slightly more exotic location than the local car park. And a bizarre addition to the event was a large sign in the foreground advertising the Monrovia Rotary Club.

Here is a very short clip just to give you a flavour of the traditional Liberian welcome:

Very excitingly, Anthony and I were interviewed by a reporter from Sky News Liberia. But there was no cameraman, soundman, clapperboard, or any of the other trappings I associate with television; Sky News in Liberia is just a man with a microphone and a phone on a selfie-stick. But we did find an article about us on the internet afterwards, so he was genuine, and not just employed to impress the tourists and make them feel like VIPs.

Like Sierra Leone, Liberia was a destination for freed slaves returning to Africa from The Americas, and in the same way as Sierra Leone, the country eventually descended into civil war. Charles Taylor is the name everyone associates with Liberia and the civil war – if only because of Naomi Campbell and the blood diamonds – but the only trace of him now is his bulletproof Mercedes SUV in the museum. Interestingly, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a fragile bulletproof vehicle.

There’s also an ebola commemorative tree installation at the museum, to remember the five thousand people who died in this country in 2015, because their very basic health system simply couldn’t cope. Approximately 50% of those who caught ebola died from it. Our guide told us that the government spends $22 per head on the health service here annually, so I fear that the outcome would be equally grim now if there’s another ebola outbreak.

Liberia is one of only two countries in Africa that wasn’t colonised by a European power, and the country is rich in diamonds, gold and iron ore. But tragically they haven’t managed to turn any of this to their advantage, and they remain one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.