Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Anticipated craziness as South Sudan moves towards the first year anniversary of its crisis forcing travel changes. Fortunately I could get flights!

On the Way Home, a painting from a photo by Elke taken on the sand road that leads to UN House. Taxi, at speed, against an orange, dust filled sky. The multistory building, incomplete and open to the sky, a glimmer of what might be in this new nation.

Coughing and spluttering easing, allowing me to get out onto the road again. If only for a walk.

The Juba fashion police have decreed that I need to ditch the blue and wear wine red colour shirts, based on a shirt I have from World AiDS day. Red wine is never a bad option!

Fuel queues, blocking the roads with the black market price now 15 times the normal price. Increasingly agitated drivers a new security hazard, compounding the increased presence of soldiers in speeding vehicles. A worry.

A Study in Purple. Painting of a women in the market that has sprung up next to the road we have built. The access provided by the road allowing women to run market stalls for travelers heading between South Sudan and the DRC. Tangible results of our food security program.

Maasai objects of prestige given to me by the staff of our Kenyans catering company. The cowhide cowboy hat and beautifully crafted walking stick aging me a gazillion years.

Christmas party at the office, with dancing and year end festive relief after a traumatic year.

Paints sorted. Draws cleaned. Clothing tossed. Last week in Juba Town.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Red skies at first light, with the call of a coucal on my jog. An extra loop tagged onto my long route, to take me back past the pond where water lilies are flowering.

Singing and drumming from the PoC. The background thump of a donkey generator. Very special. Even after another twenty hour day.

At the traffics lights, which continue to cause traffic mayhem, we now have street kids selling boxes of tissues and withered old crones clutching sticks for support, ruthlessly exploiting the vehicle jams. Petrol queues forming again, with some enterprising soul running a car wash service.

On the easel, a painting of rural South Sudan, Eastern Equitoria countryside, reminiscent of a Thomas Baines landscape.

Using the amazing skies over Juba to create the movement his paintings are known for, as well as colours that mimic his palette to communicate the harshness of the light over Africa. Prussian blue, Venetian red, crimson, emerald green and chrome yellow. “I only wish I could deem myself able to paint nature as bright as she is,” he wrote.

A touch of Cezanne in the sky and lightness of the trees.

‘Thought-storm’ mayhem getting me up in the early hours as I contemplate the next phase of adventures. The morning cool for my, almost, run. Troops from the contingent in a formation run at a pace that was manageable, enabling me to tag along. My legs hurting as they charged over the undulations. Drumming and singing from the PoC, an unrelenting cadence.

In Juba Town, police are removing the license plates from vehicles that are illegally parked. Not sure what the process is to get them back!

Woke to an emphysema type cough, without the TB style rattle that isn’t, thankfully, simultaneous with cracked ribs! My head a tad more vacant than it normally is, and my reaction times are almost at Knysna pace.

Tea, rather than wine. Tragic state.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

The sounds of the call to prayer floating on the breeze.

A bunch of missions from HQ in Juba Town, and my house looks like a refugee camp again, with the washing machine and bathroom coordination the biggest challenge. Good to have their energy and expertise available at this time of change.

My body is shedding water as it tries to cool down after my jog. First time in ages I have managed the long route. My ribs only a twinge. They have cut back the summer growth alongside the road, so the sweltering canyons through which I had to jog are gone. However, it’s overcast and muggy, even if the temperatures aren’t crazy yet, and my body is radiating heat.

Lots of singing from the PoC. Managed to get the answers out to the Auditors queries after hours of deliberation.

Cold pizza slices for dinner, a spot of wine, and lots of talk. Made me realize how special the hours we spend with each other talking, joking and working as a collective group are. Rather than being alone with thoughts, ideas and worries. We share all of that, every minute, all the time and, more importantly with honesty.

Riots at UN House. Friday mischief.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Evening, still hot in Juba Town, after a sweltering day. Generators, gasping for breath in the heat, buckling under the additional aircon demands. And, summer isn’t even here yet!

The full moon, ducking out from behind clouds forming into thunderheads. Before they loose interest and whither into puffs of candy floss. The hill behind UN House, wreathed in smoke from a dozen fires, and dust – suffocating – hangs in the air.

Wind stirring mischief.

A commissioned painting of Frangipani flowers. There is a tree outside the house I pass each morning when I go out for my jog, and after the rain has cleaned the dust from the air, it gives off a slight perfume. The Impala lilies are also flowering again, which I included in the composition to locate the painting in South Sudan.

Overcast and quiet, on a ridiculously early morning. A few noisy crows, the odd vehicle and the distant sound of singing. Drums vibrating the air.

On the drive through Juba Town, traffic lights were working, and people were actually stopping at the red lights! Traffic flow, thrown into chaos, worse than before.

Fireflies dancing at the window screen.

A bunch at the house to sort outstanding issues, fueled by a range of cheese Eddie had brought from the UK. Stilton with apricot, Shropshire blue and Sage Derby. Bougette and laughter, washed down with too much wine.

Paintings packed, the coffee machine and linen cleaned. Time to head back to the vineyards and the studio for a week.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Sky growling. Lightning in joyful abandon. Rain on the iron roof. Air flavored with freshness.

Sheets in the wash as I managed to catch my finger on a staple that was sticking out of the mattress somewhere. The amount of blood disproportionate to the cut.

Somehow, I need to settle my restless mind and sleep before another demanding day, where I have staff who are fearful as war rages in areas where we are trying to keep access open for humanitarian operations.

Chinese evening at the house. The food good, with a variety of dishes from the impossibly hot to prawns, lamb and chicken. Surprisingly for me, was that one of the best dishes was a mushroom and chicken soup with lemon grass and ginger. Definitely not boring and my sinuses, fabulously clean!

A gentle afternoon at the river. It’s been ages since I was there, and as always the flow of the river is mesmerizing. The best part was I met Echo. A small, whippet like, white and brown dog.

Long queues at the petrol stations creating havoc with the traffic. A new industry has been created with people looking after, and moving, cars in the queue. You drive to the end of the queue, leave your car with the keys in it and then catch a boda-boda, or walk to work. Guys run up and down the queue moving the vehicles and phone you when your car is near the front. Police are monitoring the refueling to make sure that no one fills containers for resale, clamping down on a new addition to the black market.

Walk at first light, with the odd jog to the edge of painful ribs. My planned painting discarded in the beauty of the sunrise, chasing the lingering storm clouds. Turning the wet cast iron roofs into mirrors of magic.

It’s far too late for me. Necessary discussions on security issues, how to save the world and the relevance of Micky Mouse in the context of South Sudan?

I did get to spend an hour at the River Nile sorting out another multi-million dollar contract against the backdrop of war and uncertainty.

The wall outside the prison has been painted a pale yellow, with grey for the pillars. A colour scheme taken from the South Sudan coat of arms, and being used for the walls of all the ministry offices in Juba Town. The wall around our office looked terrible in comparison and is now being transformed into a brilliant white space. At least, until the first dust storm.

Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

Head full of cold, my cough not the best remedy for painful ribs.

I used Sariana’s photo of a field of daisies for my painting, Garden Pixie. I noticed a shadow in the one part of the picture that reminded me of a pixie. All the meds?

Solar powered traffic lights are being placed at the major intersections around Juba Town. Many of them are flashing yellow, while the few that are working are generally ignored by drivers, who are watched by the passive police standing at the side of the road. Their focus still on revenue generating truck drivers and the occasional minibus taxi.

Whilst news of a breakthrough in the peace talks are being reported and the fourth Governors Forum is underway, the first battles of the upcoming dry season are taking place for control of the oil fields.

The radio quiet, as was the PoC, after a tense night anticipating increased violence. Beaut sunrise with happy birds the only sound this early. Juba Town holding its breath???

I’m sure my email has developed its own form of virus. Every time I answer and email, it generates another multitude!

A tad surprised to receive a Liebster Award nomination from D Bandalan http://mydecadelongtravels.wordpress.com/ for my muttering and mumblings.

The Liebster Award has German origins. The word “liebster” has several definitions: dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant…It aims to discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere. Bloggers award other bloggers.

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Diary of an Adventure

Juba Adventures

My ribs still a tad painful from where my elbow went into them on my fall, so no jogging Also too lazy! I do have Japanese magic pads to ease the discomfort. My running magazine has suggested a core-muscle workout as an alternative to shaking the ground.

Sunday Papers, my painting of a man sitting in a sack of sorghum reading a news paper. There’s something timeless about reading a news paper, and it’s probably disappearing from our futures. The bag of sorghum is from the supplies handed out to the displaced people in the PoC sites, and that it’s in the market highlights how badly handouts distort local markets.

Weary after fighting with my painting. Not sure if it’s because I didn’t have a clear idea of where the painting was heading, or tried to do to many things with it. Perhaps it’s simply an indication of too little sleep with my painful ribs, or the coming to the end of my time in South Sudan, and my mind distracted by the unknown next steps??

Wine time.

A temper tantrum type storm. Night sky full of lightning. Wind, gathering its strength. Thundering, bellowing.

Craziness outside the PoC that has reviewing our security plans and contingencies in case things get out of control. Volatile it certainly is, despite the progress being made in Arusha.

VIP conveys turning the drive to the airport into a lottery. The checkin, a seething mass of people and luggage piled in any vacant spot to keep it dry with a storm breaking over Juba Town.

Messing About with Paint

Sunday Papers

Oil on Canvas 40cmx50cm

Weary after fighting with my painting. Not sure if it’s because I didn’t have a clear idea of where the painting was heading, or tried to do to many things with it. Perhaps it’s simply an indication of too little sleep with my painful ribs, or the coming to the end of my time in South Sudan, and my mind distracted by the unknown next steps??

A man sitting in a sack of sorghum reading a news paper. There’s something timeless about reading a news paper, and it’s probably disappearing from our futures. The bag of sorghum is from the supplies handed out to the displaced people in the PoC sites, and that it’s in the market highlights how badly handouts distort local markets.

Wine time.