well! there we were in juba, for real this time. J was there waiting for us in the mcc landcruiser. i feel pretty sure i can speak for all three of us: we were quite pleased to see a familiar face..especially one with a vehicle!
we piled in and were whisked away to the mcc sudan office. see, i even took a picture to prove that we went there:
later that evening we went for the “damn good burritos” at the place that has the burritos every friday night. its a strange place. in short: it reminded me of MASH, you know, the t.v. show? but it was more posh than the 4077. tents? yes, but fancy air conditioned tents.
and then we had burritos (that were damn good) while sitting at a lovely table overlooking the nile. post burrito i had south sudan’s finest: white bull lager:
the power-gods were pretty good to us and we had power for most of the night- meaning that the ceiling fans were able to at least churn the hot air around the room, helping to trick our bodies into thinking that it was cool enough to sleep. and we did sleep.
in the morning there was coffee. and sitting around until J’s housemate, also J so she’ll be…J2, returned from a trip. we all sat around the living room “visiting” as my grandmother would say. it was eventually decided that, yes, lunch would be a great idea.
elizabeth had something called the “try me” sandwich. the name of the sandwich made it worth reporting, i think. she said it was good. anyway.
at this juncture the group decided that we would like to tour the white bull lager factory, on the outskirts of juba. once again we piled into the car and the J’s took us to the factory.
housemate was elected to go to the gate to see if we could have a tour of the place. as she was going elizabeth, j, j2 and i discussed that housemate generally is chosen for tasks such as this. the example given was that she has consistantly been the one to forge through crowds for visa forms. we decided she was generally the one sent because of her success rate.
we got a “thumbs up” from housemate, parked the car and made our way to the gate to join her, just in time to learn that it was actually too late! it was just coming to 5:00 and it was going to be too much of a hassle to give us the tour. dejected, we piled back into the car. #fail
to lift our spirits from our rejection we decided that a trip to the market for fabric shopping was in order. and so we went. and we bought fabric that i did not take photos of. but, its really cool fabric, believe me.
pre fabric shopping, we toured a grocery store for things we needed, and things we didn’t. things like beet seeds, water, splm stickers, a 10-in-one movie dvd of only dance movies, shampoo and chewing gum. essentials, all!
and then we went home. and “visited” some more.
on the way to brunch we stopped at the vegetable pharmacy (yes, really) for some fresh veg etc. i bought the first energy drink i have ever purchased and remembered why i never buy them: they are GROSS. but this one was pretty funny…
there was brunch at some fantastic place that had really tasty coffee, but a fly problem like most of juba. let me demonstrate:
post brunch we decided that a boat trip on the nile river would be a great way to spend our sunday afternoon as the brewery wasn’t open that day and we therefore couldn’t attempt that feat. after a grand tour of juba (a weird place) and navigating roads where there were supposed to be bridges but weren’t, we found the camp where the boat trips launch from.
after being told that a trip would be “soon” we sat down, ordered some afternoon beers and “visited” some more while waiting for the boat. the boat that never came. well, actually it did, but there was confusion and the fellow controlling the boat went away without us. and then it was too late for boating. #fail
to lift our spirits this time we decided that a lovely indian food dinner was in order. and it was rather lovely. see also: delicious.
we retired to the house to “visit” some more, have beverages and groan every time the power went out. (i mean, the ceiling fans really make a difference!) there was laughing, a little crying (really) and general frivolity amongst the members. delight.
since we three from uganda had to catch our bus earlish in the morning we retired to bed earlish. sorta. and the power even came back to lull us to sleep with the marvelous fans. (can you tell how i feel about the fans?!)
bright and early the next morning J dropped us off at the bus (we’d booked our tickets the day before, and were even able to choose our seats!) and we piled on, waiting for our departure. we were all in a middle row, all together. how nice.
we had to walk through the dreaded juba-check-point again to get out of the city. there was a fellow who kept trying to cut in front of us, and eventually we all squeezed ourselves together and kept our places in line. as housemate was getting ready to go through the check point this fellow tried to just walk through. thankfully the man checking papers kept his head about him and just stopped him and pointed at the line. he complied. ptl.
back on the bus we all settled in and were rather american about it: ipods were put on and we zoned out into our collective head-spaces. sleeping was had on the trip to the border. partially because we were tired, but also perhaps as a defense mechanism to the extreme speed the driver seemed to be applying. wow.
back at the sudan border we had another interesting crossing…there was a man standing on the steps outside (the very same one that yelled at me a few days before) who was only letting a few people at a time into the building. there seemed to be no rhyme or reason for who was let in when but he was quite serious about his job.
elizabeth was ahead of me, and i thought he told me to go with her. when i started to move forward his arm zipped down in front of me, not unlike the swinging arm on a school bus, and he gave me an evil look. “NOT. YET.” he said. “oh. okay, sorry.” i replied. not 4 seconds later he said, “okay. now.”
his attempts to create organization out of the chaos of the inside of the building wasn’t noticed by this traveler. once inside it was just chaos again, people pushing forward in a mass that did not even remotely resemble a line. alas.
the woman who had “helped” us the other day noticed us languishing in the back of the faux-que and gestured for us to hand her our passports and visas. we did. she stamped them and then decided it was time to comment on my attire:
“you are looking very smart!” she said.
“oh, well, thank you.”
“i didn’t like the outfit of the other day. but this one is very nice. you should wear like this more often.”
“oh. um. okay.”
“yes, this one is very nice. the one of the other day, not so much.”
“okay. nice time.”
never a dull moment.
and then we crossed into uganda.
i was the first in line of we three this time and was in and out of the office in a jiffy. housemate and elizabeth went in at the same time and took quite a long time to return. i was getting a bit antsy wondering what was going on, but knew i had to wait to find out. eventually they emerged with a tale of an expired special pass and having to purchase a new visa. illegality is fun!
sodas were drank.
the bus loaded back up again, and we were soon in gulu noshing on an excellent expat lunch at coffee hut and returned to elizabeth’s place for resting, showers and more resting.
we stayed the following day in gulu, having a “day with the girls” which even included amazing full-body massages. the best 20,000 i ever did spend. tasty indian food for lunch and some fun purchases of many varieties.
dinner with the sisters was hilarious, as usual and we retired earlish in preparation for our next journey the following day: back to kotido!
tomorrow’s post: journey to juba: the tyre incident is the final post in this 5 part series of “journey to juba” and contains some of the more dramatic moments of the trip. put your seat belts on, and get ready for the ride!