Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

An evening sky full of lightning. The air vibrating in anticipation. Water, an unrelenting torrent. Roads, a lottery of mud. Misery in the PoC’s.

Muddy jog after a night of storms. The rain has again highlighted water born diseases from inadequate sewerage collection and disposal, primarily in the PoC areas. As a precaution, I avoided the areas on my route that are traditionally flooded.

Everyone has gone, the kitchen is sorted and there are a bunch of bits left in the fridge. Farewell for a couple of my senior staff moving onto gentler parts of the world. Sher’s Kofta and chicken kebabs, tasty. The fire perfect to ensure rapid cooking within the minimal time we had before everyone needed to get back before the curfew.

The conflict in South Sudan has been particularly harsh on women and children. Yet, they need to go on with the everyday requirements of cooking, cleaning, shopping and caring. My painting ‘Forgotten’, a women in the Konya-Konya market of Juba balancing impossibly heavy loads, doing all she can not to draw any attention to herself. Fading into the background.

First payment received through PayPal for a painting shipped to the States. Still need to check on the downside of using e-commerce platforms and regulatory hurdles. More importantly, a new home for one of my paintings.

Flooded camps in Bentiu, surrounded by nervous soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Access complicated by airfields that are waterlogged and no material available to sort them for hundreds of kilometers. Coffee discussion solutions of boulders, trees, mud and steel matting. The enormity of the task highlighted by the crashing of a UN helicopter.

The coffee machine is clean. Laundry sorted and paintings packed. Time to head to the vineyards

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Diary of an Adventure

Travelling Together

Traveling together
Means 
Early wake-ups
In different cities
In opposite climates
Of 
Africa
Traveling together 
Means
Different airports
Altered time zones and
Biorhythms 
Of
Being 
Traveling together
Means
Anxious check-ins
Revised itineraries 
With separate seating
On
Random airlines
Traveling together
Means
Familiar lounges
Separate experiences
(Mostly) predictable procedures
In
Different airports
Traveling together
Means
Scrambled schedules
Impromptu rearrangement
Flexible emotions
And
Optimistic boarding
Traveling together
Means
Midnight meet-ups
Single glasses 
Of airborne wine
And
Out-of-time reunions
Traveling together
United 
In our destination
Separately in sync
We board
Our
Different planes

Terry Ellen
27 August 2014

Messing About with Paint

Forgotten

Oil on Canvas 40cmx50cm

The conflict in South Sudan has been particularly harsh on women and children. Yet, they need to go on with the everyday requirements of cooking, cleaning, shopping and caring.

My painting ‘Forgotten’, a women in the Konya-Konya market of Juba balancing impossibly heavy loads, doing all she can not to draw any attention to herself. Fading into the background.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

‘Healing the World’, the painting of Anna’s daughter creating rainbows on the beach. The small size of the canvas a challenge for my fingers. Particularly the child’s face, where Impressionism clashes with realism.

A double loop of my long route, cocooned in mist. Fortunately I had a soldier with me for the second loop, and I could sink a hook into him to haul me up the hill. Such that it is. My Achilles a tad bothersome.

The still African evening filled with the beat of Latin America. Carnival. With sequins, feathers, masks and glitter. Swinging hips. Shadows, dancing in the candle light. The reality of Juba Town forgotten for a lighthearted birthday evening.

‘A New Day’, a painting of dawn breaking over Juba Town. The smell of damp earth. Air scrubbed clean by rain, still in the early morning. The birds a bit of a cliché. Harmless, safe, amongst the chaos of South Sudan.

Soldiers manning key points in Juba Town, many of them holding small South Sudan flags. No aggression from them as they prepared for the parade to commemorate the 1955 Torit Mutiny. Would have said so much more if they had held parades for World Humanitarian day for the 1.7 million of their citizens their fighting has displaced.

Didn’t feel much like my jog and struggled around the first bit. Big contrast between my laboured struggle and the smooth flowing, effortless, run of a bunch who came past me, wearing the latest in minimalist footwear. Chinese plastic slops.

The roads of Juba Town busy with usual assortment of crazy drivers and white clad traffic police waving their arms in various directions in an uncoordinated flurry that ensured that any smooth flowing traffic was rapidly log jammed. Only the looming presence of new monster Armoured Personnel Carriers, topped by the maroon berets and black mirror lens sunglasses on the heads of the Presidential Guards seemed to miraculously clear the roads.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

A sky of ultramarine blue, shot through with carmine and Indian yellow sunset clouds. The beauty of nature so at odds with the daily drama.

The influence for a small painting (40cmx30cm) ‘Sunrise over Jebel Hill’, a brooding, cloudy sky full of mystery. Probably a tad more of an Old Testament feel about it, than the light Impressionist style I’m comfortable with.

Renewed fighting in the North, and talks in Addis that don’t seem to be going anywhere. Frustrations seemingly mirrored by the bank of dark clouds, shot through with lightning, and earth shaking thunder. Amongst which, the nostalgic strains of a bugle with the Evening Assembly call.

The team here for dinner and laughs. Underscored by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has some of my staff captive in South Sudan, as they can’t return to the country if they leave.

The washing machine scheduling eased by the installation of two new machines at Container City. The drying, now the issue, with displaced South Sudanese still roaming around the UN facility stealing anything that is not protected.

A stunning sunset. One of those ‘show-off’ skies, highlighting how far away my painting is from the spectacular.

A slow, muddy jog in the rain. Very few people out. With the sun getting up later and a covering of heavy cloud, my route so dark in spots that I was almost on my hands and knees trying to find where the road went. I have my headlamp with me now, as the water has washed away parts of the road making footing a tad treacherous.

One of my staff lost a friend in the explosion in Gaza. He was an Italian reporter and was doing a story on a bomb disposal guy in Gaza, when the bomb he was working on exploded. So much sadness at the moment.

A painting for Anna of her daughter on the beach. In her hands, a rainbow, to heal the world.

Messing About with Paint

Sunrise over Jebel Hill

Oil on canvas 40cmx30cm

A sky of ultramarine blue, shot through with carmine and Indian yellow sunset clouds. The beauty of nature so at odds with the daily drama.

The influence for a small painting of a brooding, cloudy sky full of mystery.

Probably a tad more of an Old Testament feel about it, than the light Impressionist style I’m comfortable with.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

In the late evening hours, the air vibrating with pulsating drumming and singing from the PoC. Haunting. Ethereal. Captivating.

Chest heaving, legs screaming. First jog after the holidays. The route busier than expected. Ego forcing the pace above the sensible. The air cool after the overnight storm, with owls hooting encouragement, as I splashed my way through the muddier bits

A quick breakfast and then the short trip to the airport. The security check guys didn’t like any of the stuff in my suitcase, so I had to unpack the whole thing. Explain about the tubes of paint. What a Nespresso capsule is (with the aid of the website). Unwrap the hunk of cheese, let them taste the chocolate buttons and switch on the electric toothbrush so they could see that it worked. Amazingly I was able to get everything repacked.

Not the best news to wake up-to. The report of a construction failure of one of the structures we are building. Very embarrassing and fortunately no one injured.

During my pummeling about the failed structure by the State Ministers, there was appreciation for us implementing projects to the benefit of the people of South Sudan, in the difficult conditions, and our willingness to work during the conflict. ‘If you hadn’t tried, even if you failed, we would have nothing at all. Even if its now only to criticise’.

They did mention that there had been no cognizance taken of local traditions and rituals, which may have been the cause of the failure. ‘You can’t cross the river if you aren’t right within yourself. The river will pick you up and carry you back to where you started!’

At some of the intersections in Juba Town, they have placed circular steel structures that have a conical shape to a small platform on which a figure of a man stands with a bow and arrow. Apparently this may depict the various tribes of Central Equitoria State, where hunting with bow and arrows is still practiced.

Nepalese Peace Keepers out for their morning run. They seem to be mad football players and practice all sorts of drills between sprint sessions. The Ghanaians in comparison are built like Michelangelo’s David. Their muscular bodies encased in the tightest clothing possible, transparent with sweat. They run like the wind, with an assortment of headphones colour coordinated to their outfits. My jog. Pedestrian.

My next painting options swirling around my head.

Diary of an Adventure

Vineyard Adventures

Fires, wine, food and laughter on a rainy day in the vineyards. Fingers frozen by cold paint in the studio.

Options, plans, for TH2. Practical, reality amongst the wine fueled creativity. Freeing imagination for the loft apartment space.

Tartiflette, first introduced to us by Aly, is a French dish from the Savoie and Haute Savoie region of France, made with a seriously pungent reblochon cheese. Terry replaced the potatoes with cauliflowers and lardons with bacon bits. Radford Dale Chardonnay, the choice to accompany the cheese, although I found the Piekeniers red enjoyable. Not sure that cheese fondu will ever be the same.

The black shark flag above the beach, on a beautiful day. Kites flying above the brightly painted beach houses. Pizza, with Brian and Janet at Knead, the Art-deco interior as timeless as the surfers cavorting on skateboards.

Contagious energy. Enjoyment. Satisfaction. Fun. Enthusiasm. Chef Chris Erasmus at his new Foliage restaurant in Franschhoek. The menu is a tad mind boggling, with ingredient selections like ‘dandelion pesta’ My risotto, served as a starter portion, was scrumptious and my venison shank excellent. The earth coloured plates don’t do anything to stimulate the visual representation the food deserves. Nothing on the plate, however, compared to the excellent attention and service. Personal, in this small restaurant that needs to be nurtured and revered. Unique, special and for those, fortunate few, to enjoy and appreciate.

The restaurant opens into the IS gallery, with small bronze sculptures on the tables that echo larger works in the gallery. The art in the restaurant has none of the subtlety of the menu. Blocks of colour, bold. As are the flavours in the food. I wouldn’t take them home, but it works.

Despite the chilly air, we sat for hours watching the whales cavorting in the bay at Hermanus. Dad and Mary joined us to make the most of the sunshine, good food and wine from the Hemel and Aarde valley.

‘Turquoise’, oil on canvas 150cmx90cm. The colour finding its home in the painting of Dwarsriver. A flash of Cézanne? The first of the spring Watsonia’s demanding a place in the painting. The pink flowers echoing the pink in the rock formation.

Its pruning time in the vineyards. Wires dripping with early morning moisture.

Terroir, the fireplace welcome even on this sort-of-sunny day in the vineyards. No view to capture the imagination, and the restaurant is on the verge of dingy. The menu, a tad intimidating and certainly expensive enough to make you hesitate about trying a dish simply to see what its about. The wine list is comprehensive, but also more than we are used to having to spend for the excellent wines that come from this part of paradise.

No art on display, ensuring that all your senses are focused at the food, which is an artwork on a plate. Beautifully presented, the cooking perfect and each mouthful an explosion of flavour. We had their light Chardonnay and Pinot, which both allowed the subtle flavours of the food to come through.

My paints are packed away, canvases stored and for now its time to head back to Juba Town.