Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I want to be a pilot!

I know in some previous posts I have complained about flights in Sudan and how each time you step on the plane you pray that you will land safely. But, after my return trip from Juba which involved stops in two other states of Sudan it made me grateful for flights so that I could see so much of the country. Flying on a small plane (mostly 9 seaters) you fly really low so it's like a scenic flight and if you wanted to you could reach out and touch the pilot. Seeing them fly really made me want to learn to be a pilot!
The first stop after Juba was Nimule, right on the border of Uganda. As we approach the whole landscape changes and becomes green and lush. The rivers are full and look like they flow all the time. The green hills are dotted with perfectly round tukuls. We land on the runway (really just a small dirt clearing) and almost crash into a group of men huddled together under plastic sheeting held up by wooden posts sitting on the end of the runway. I am busy staring at them a while before I even realize that they are soldiers and that they have large guns pointing up into the sky to shoot down airplanes- pointed in the sky right where we came from. I'm don't have time to explore who they are and why they want to shoot down planes before we have to take off. (All I know is that this is the heart of the Lord's Resistance Army and there has been some serious insecurity here because of them). Our next stop is KajoKeji, also on the border with Uganda. This is in Central Equatoria and I'm excited to get to see another part of Sudan. The plane stops so many times it's really more like a bus service than a flight. Considering the lack of roads to all of these places, flying is still the only way to get around here. Finally we reach Kapoeta. We think... As we reach something which looks like a town the pilot turns around and asks if anyone if is from Kapoeta and if the place we are about to land really is Kapoeta. I'd never been asked for directions to a runway by a pilot before! Thankfully at the end of our runway is a crashed plane which was never taken away, so it's easy to see that you are at the right place. So I told the pilot he was right and we proceeded to land.
If only I had my camera on this trip to share some photos of my tour around Sudan... But I can share photos of the crashed plane at the end of the runway instead.

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