Rainy Day 5
Rain - motoro - lots of it! We had a storm last night - thunder, lightening, gale force winds bringing limbs crashing down on metal roof tops, torrents of rain - for an hour - and then it was over - leaving temperatures cool and pleasant all day. Then around 4:30 it started again - slow and steady, this time, and is still going 4 hours later. This IS the rainy season!
I have not slept well for the past two nights and and, hopefully, this long slow rain will help me relax tonight. After finally going into a sound sleep around 2:00 a..m., I awoke at 7:30, having missed my morning swim but determined not to miss breakfast. I wrapped a shawl around my long nightgown and made my way to breakfast, groggy, trying to shake the cobwebs. A shower helped, and when my chariot arrived at 9:00, I was ready to go.
The first order of business was to register as an alien, which I should have done right after I arrived, and I would not be able to fly to Rumbek tomorrow unless I got that done. Angelo was away, so driver, Chan, and his brother, Martin, were in charge today. Our photo is shown below. The Immigration office wasn't ready for business, so we drove to Juba Town to find the Ministry of Interior. After parking, and walking through narrow alleys flanked by stalls selling everything imaginable, navigating stones and rocks while I prayed for "sure feet," we found the building where this ministry was located.
Up three flights of slick stairs, gripping the rail - I made it. The process took some time, but Chan and Martin managed the details, and all I had to do was sign my name at the appropriate time and pay $50. I wish I could have taken a photo, but pictures are prohibited in government offices. The officials were friendly, and I got to practice my greetings - "Ita ques?" (are you well?), "Aye, Ana ques." (Yes, I am well.) And "shukran" - thank you.
It was pushing noon when we finally finished and everyone was hungry, so we went back to the Uncle restaurant where we ate yesterday, and had more local food. One of my favorites is a smoothie-type drink make of avocados - thick and sweet and filling.
I had wanted to shop for another lawa, a traditional garment worn over clothing. A trip to the Konyo Konyo market and I found exactly what I wanted in red - love it - and will enjoy both here and when I get back to the US.
I had a 30 minute meeting with Sister Orla Treacy, a Catholic nun from Ireland, who started a Loreto school for girls in Rumbek about 10 years ago. It has been wildly successful, transforming girls education in this area. It hasn't been easy, and Sister Orla deserves all the credit she has been given for her tenacity and determination in making this school happen. Hers is the "gold standard" for all the other schools in the area. She was being honored tonight at a reception at the Ambassador's residence, American Embassy, which I was invited to, but we would have no opportunity to talk business there. She is delightful company, and I am glad our paths have crossed.
My guys rushed me back to my room, where I had just enough time to change and get to the Embassy. I am grateful to Ambassador Tom Hushek for his kindness in inviting me to two Embassy events during this trip, and for introducing me and my NGO in Rumbek at this gathering tonight. Sister Orla was in fine form, entertaining and charming everyone. Several Embassy, State Department, and USAid employees sought me out to get more information about exactly what the NGO I represent does in Rumbek. I met a lot of interesting people and left with a fistful of business cards.
The two heavy bags, which I will check to Rumbek tomorrow, have already been loaded in Angelo's car. The two I will not need until I go to Terekeka will stay here in my room. Chan is scheduled to pick me up at 6:00 tomorrow morning for 6:30 check in and 7:00 departure. Goodbye to Juba and AFEX for now - I'll be back in two weeks!