Sunday, March 25, 2007
Returning back to Kapoeta following a week in Juba is not an easy task. The drive would not be too long except that the road between Juba and Torit (which you have to take to get anywhere East of Juba) is impassible because of insecurity. The insecurity is caused by the LRA (the Lord’s Resistance Army from Uganda), or others using the LRA as a scapegoat. So this means taking a flight from Juba to Kenya- only to return back to Sudan. The flight takes us to Loki, Kenya- on the border with Sudan. I won’t talk about the flight now because I don’t want to scare anyone who might fly in Africa, but all I can say is that I will never fly another WFP (World Food Program) flight again- certainly not with a pilot named Chris!
Loki (as it is fondly called) is the hub of ex-pat activity. Or at least it used to be. When the war was going on it was the only way into Sudan and many people just worked from there. Now that access to Southern Sudan has opened up, Loki is not quite what it once was… Lots of NGOs are closing up shop in Kenya altogether and moving on establish themselves entirely in Juba.
To get to the Sudanese border we have to wait for a security escort because there was an incident a few days before we were to travel. I feel a sigh of relief upon crossing back into Sudan and away from Kenya. Who would have thought that Kenya was more of a problem than Sudan?
It was a long rainy night the day before we left Loki. As we set out in the morning the rain was still pouring down. I knew that the road out would be bad, but not quite as bad as this! We just cross the border before encountering our first problem. Three trucks have gotten stuck in the mud and there is nowhere for us to pass. I’m not quite sure how our driver makes it through and around the trucks, but we are able to pass. Thinking that was the end of it we continue only to reach another mess full of trucks stuck in the mud. Thankfully there is a bigger truck busy pulling trucks out of the mud which I'm sure he will be busy doing all day.
The next big roadblock is a river that was bone dry when I drove over it 2 weeks ago and now after one night of rain the river is rushing quickly. Another NGO’s car got swept away as they tried to cross the river during another flood, so I know crossing a river is a challenge. There is nothing to do when we arrive but wait… The river comes and goes and we just have to wait for the right time. As we wait we are surrounded by Toposa people who are also waiting to cross the river on foot. If they can make it we can too! We risk it and manage to get across safely, although I was holding my breath the whole way just in case we got swept away.
Back to Kapoeta at last…. With the rain what should have been a two hour journey took nearly six.