Friday, November 26, 2010


Several weeks ago I went to a music concert on a Saturday night. I felt somewhat ill, with a splitting headache. The next day I felt largely the same, and rather tired. I wasn't sure if it was actual illness or exhaustion, since I'd been working long hours every day getting ready for a major meeting. But I spoke with a doctor friend after services Sunday morning who advised that I go to a local clinic and get tested for malaria as soon as possible. The next morning I went to the clinic where they drew a drop of blood (they make just a small prick on your finger to put a drop of blood on a glass slide. I assumed they'd take a vial and thus wore a short-sleeved shirt.) After reviewing the slide I was informed by the doctor that I indeed had malaria! I was expecting some sort of near death experience, but really malaria was rather disappointing as illnesses go, just a bad headache and a mild fever. Still, it's best not to take chances with a disease which kills millions every year, so I'm glad I got tested right away and got on medication. In Africa, in Sudan at least, you don't need a prescription to walk into any pharmacy and order whatever you like. "You want malaria medicine?, step right-up." "You'd like something with opium to soothe your nerves? Got just what you need." And the prices are so cheap. You can get a big box of pills for 10-pounds, the equivalent of $4.00. If there was any kind of postal system it would be quite lucrative buying medicines here and shipping them back to the US for resale. Anyway, after three days I felt better - not one hundred percent - but better. A friend gave me some of her SP pills, another standard malaria drug. After that I felt better, and when I returned to the clinic on Friday to be retested they said I was malaria-free.
Last week I spent five days in Aweil, up in Northern Bar-el Ghazal state. The area around Aweil is flat as a sheet of paper and prone to flooding, since the water doesn't have anywhere to go. The area was mosquito-ey (is that a word?) and the hotel we used lacked mosquito nets for the beds (however, they had monkeys running around - a fair trade-off I thought.) I know the first night that I heard mosquitoes buzzing around me and I awoke covered with bites. Conditions in the hotel improved and we were able to keep our room mosquito free the rest of the nights, but the damage was done. Shortly after we returned from Aweil I started feeling ill, and I recognized the symptoms. A quick trip to the clinic confirmed the presence of malaria - but "scanty" according to the technician who read the slide. Speaking of the technician, I had a fun time tormenting him as only I can. When he retrieved something from the mini-fridge in the lab room I asked him if he kept his lunch in there. He said "no," but did own-up to keeping waters and sodas in the fridge. Before reading the slide the technician dips the slide in four cups of different colored dyes, the process of which is supposed to make the malaria bugs stand out making them easier to see. I pointed out how in America at Easter we place eggs in cups of dye just like he had in order to dye eggs for children (I don't think he believed me.) By this point the technician, I could tell, was thinking that malaria was the least of my problems and mental illness was more likely present. But the best part was after he had looked at the slide through the microscope. I asked the technician if he'd ever looked at something through the microscope that scared him so much he'd wanted to run out of the room. I figured he'd just say, "no," but he excitedly said "YES!" then he went on to tell me how when he had first started how he had looked at a stool sample on a slide to check for worms and when he did the worms looked so large and they looked like they were coming right-up at him. By now I had practically fallen out of the chair I was laughing so hard. It was great. I knew this guy was happy too to have finally been able to share that event with someone who could appreciate it (for the comic moment it was, IMHO.)
After the test I saw the doctor who informed me I had a mild case of malaria. He prescribed a different medicine, although he was sure that this was a new infection rather than a relapse of the old case - whatever. The doctor explained that I would need to take the medicine with fatty foods. I just looked at him for a moment and then told him, "If you weren't a man I would kiss you." I told him he was the doctor I'd been looking for all of my life! The next morning I made sure to buy a bag of fresh lumps of dough fried in grease - Juba doughnuts - thinking to myself as I munched these greasy treats: Doctor's orders.
I have nearly finished my course of meds and I'm feeling better now. I think abother part of the problem is that I switched anti-malarial medications. I used to take Malarone, which worked great, but after running out switched to Doxycycline. There is evidently some resistence by malaria to Doxy, I've known several people that were taking it who got malaria anyway. But at least the treatment is easily available and cheap, and hopefully I won't need it again.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jogging in Juba

Thirteen months after being forced to quit running owing to a terrible injury to my left achilles tendon, after thirteen months of boredom and falling out of shape and gaining weight, I recently was able to take-up jogging again here in Juba.
I say jogging because my achilles tendon, which was injured when I foolishly decided to add a “hill workout” to my running routine as I was training for the Ashland Half-Marathon last August, is still a bit tender and not really one-hundred percent. But I am so sick and tired of not being able to run that I am cautiously tempting fate by running at a seriously reduced pace which thus far, it's been three weeks, seems not to be causing my left heel any problems and even seems to be helping a bit.
I added the “hill workout” after reading the annual Runner's World guide to half-marathons. In it they give all sorts of training advice. But, I didn't think to introduce the routine into my workout gradually. Given my “all or nothing” personality, I simply decided one day to pound up a huge hill ten times. As with injuries caused by overuse, like hard gardening on a Saturday, I didn't feel anything at the time. But the next morning (what happens while we are sleeping that causes our bodies to fall apart?) my left heel was in agony. Thinking that I just needed to “stretch it out” I keep running for a few more days until the pain became unbearable. After doing a little on-line research I found information about something called “achilles tendonosis” that seemed to match my symptoms. The information also said if I didn't stop running immediately I risked causing a permanent injury that would preclude me from ever being able to run again. So, I figured a few months of rest was better than a lifetime of inactivity.
But the injury was stubborn. Every morning for the better part of a year I would wake-up and find the same pain, the same stiffness in my left heel. Stretching, the normal antidote to most running injuries, did nothing and, in fact, seemed only to make matters worse. Eventually I decided to just quit worrying and just let time heal my heel.
And, eventually, things did improve, in spite of moving overseas to a town where I mostly walk everywhere, though rarely more than a mile or two at any given time. But Juba is a town made for running. Mostly flat, with mainly dirt roads, and normally warm which precludes having to wear sweats and hats and gloves like back home, Juba is a great place to jog.
Once I was certain my left heal could take a little abuse, I started out cautiously lightly jogging about a half mile loop from the Guest House grounds to the MAF compound, up to the paved Juba-town road and back to the Guest House. I knew, thanks to all the walking I do, that I had the aerobic capacity to run a little, but would my heel hold? Unlike my normal seven-minute mile pace I was plodding along at ten-minute miles, or slower, but I was jogging! And so long as I didn't try and go too fast or strike the ground too hard I was able to jog along at a measured pace almost indefinitely. In fact, it's been only three weeks and I'm already up to covering jogs of five miles or so without causing any harm to my heel!
Almost the only people that jog in Juba are ex-Pats, the European and American folks working for the innumerable NGO's (non-governmental organizations) that litter south Sudan. There are all sorts of folks here, the well meaning save the world do-gooders, the grizzled embittered “got no where else to go” people, the people that have figured out how to make a lucrative living off the generous “overseas, hardship” pay plus per diems and car and housing allowances, and some folks that have absolutely no business being here at all. But except for the current crop of police recruits who are forced to jog all over Juba on Saturday mornings, and the odd soccer team that occasionally takes to the streets, the only people seen jogging on a regular basis are kwagas, the local word for “whites.”
Adult Africans, when presented with something they don't understand, simply laugh in response. And so, when I'm jogging about town, I often hear adults break out into roars of laughter at seeing what to them is a crazy white man going jogging past. Part of the laughter stems from the extreme practicality of Sudanese, especially the men. If a Sudanese has a job for which he is being paid he will work at it very hard, not even minding working seven days a week. But, if he is not being paid, then a Sudanese sees no purpose to stirring himself no matter what. Other than the observation that if you hire a Sudanese to do a job its best to hire him on a project by project basis, it's also understandable that to a Sudanese, someone out debasing himself by expending energy on something like jogging for which he is not being paid is more than bizzare, it's downright hysterical.
Case in point: In almost every case whenever I am coming back from my late afternoon/early evening run, I pass by Bishop Gwynne College. BGC is a project of the Episcopal Church, a theological college with aspirations of being much more. In the evening a number of the students, all but one of whom are adult men ranging in age from early twenties to upper fifties, can be found sitting out on on the road in front of the College, enjoying the evening. And when I jog past every time it causes the men there to burst into laughter. It's been three weeks and the men find it still as funny as the first time.
But, whereas the adults might find the sight of a white man running through the streets nothing less than hysterical, the children of Juba find it downright wonderful. The children here are normally fascinated by kwagas anyway, squealing out their “good mornings” to you as you go past their homes. But add in the spectre of a running kwaga and the appeal becomes irresistable. Never a time I'm out running does it not come to pass that I won't have a gaggle of little children running along behind me squealing with laughter, and yelling out “kwaga” and “good morning” with more delight than usual. It's always the same thing, just young children, from toddlers to no more than about seven or eight years old, at which point some internal switch seems to activate which makes such behaviour no longer seemly or “cool.” But the little ones have no such self-consciousness which gives them the freedom to act with such pure abandon.
The other great thing about jogging in Juba is the ability it gives you to really get a feel for the town. In fact, one of the main reasons I wanted to take-up jogging again was to be able to see more of the town in a much more time efficient manner. It's been interesting to get to see up close some of the neighborhoods as I've explored the back roads. Security is not a problem. Firt of all, the Sudanese are too busy laughing at me to think of causing me any harm. Secondly, since I'm only wearing running shorts and a t-shirt it's obvious to anyone that I haven't got anything worth having on me. And I think the fact that I'm out jogging also pre-supposes to the Sudanese that I'm mentally unfit enough for anyone to be willing to pay much ransome to get me back, in case that scheme ever occurred to anyone. Fortunately, that whole business of kidnapping people as a form of raising cash has not started here in Sudan like it has in places like Somalia or El Salvador.
I'm hoping after a while to be in enough shape to really be able to jog all over town. There's no better way to get to know a town than to walk around it, or jog around it, in this case. I am thus far thankful that I've been able to return to the one sport that I absolutely cherish and I hope that my running experiences here will be long lasting and wonderful.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


In their person, the Sudanese are a remarkably fastidious people. In the city, at least, the majority of people always dress like they are on their way to Sunday services. Their clothes are neat, crisply pressed, and quite stylish. In fact, one of the first prejudices a visitor must overcome is the idea that people who live in mud-brick tukels must by the same token appear unkempt. Nothing could be further from the truth. In mud-brick tukels people may live, largely because so many have only recently returned to Sudan since peace was declared a few years ago and housing options are limited, but that does not mean that locals cannot be neat and clean and have pride in their appearance. What was it Dinesen said about pride? “It is faith in the idea that God had when he made us.” And thus, the Sudanese take great pains to make sure their clothes are always clean and that they remain so throughout the day. I have seem men arrive at construction sites dressed more nicely than am I who is on his way to an office. The difference is that by the end of the day I somehow am splattered with mud while the Sudanese remains clean. A large part of that is the deliberate and careful way in which the Sudanese carry themselves. They are a most graceful people, their movements almost choreographed. They are never rushed, never haphazard, but thoughtful in their actions. I, on the other hand, have always been ackward and have always attracted dirt and dust and in a land where people largely succeed in remaining clean I stand-out the greater for my failure to do likewise. As if to emphasize their habit for cleanliness, the Sudanese, where water is available, will take two showers daily, in the morning and evening.
As a kawaga (literally “foreigner,” though it is a name applied almost exclusively to whites) I attract a lot of attention, though not for my nature, but for my wardrobe and appearance. It is from teenage girls, the arbiters of taste no matter the locale, from whom I receive the hardest and most intense looks as they examine every inch of my appearance. And it is from the same group from whom I receive the most scornful looks for what they perceive to be my less than attractive appearance. In my pressed long sleeve shirts (I have my laundry done at the Guest House and the ladies there press my clothes quite crisply using charcoal-heated irons) rumpled khakis and – worst of all - my Clark's desert boots which are hopelessly stained from the dust of Africa compared with the always well shined shoes worn by native males, I am afraid that I present a less than ideal image compared with the Sudanese.
Of course, these observations apply most directly to people living in Juba. People living in the countryside who, as do country dwellers everywhere, live closer to the land, try though they might to be clean and stylish, inevitably pick-up more dirt in their daily movements than do city dwellers. So, too, are country dwellers more relaxed in some of their other habits. In Juba, the act of relieving oneself in public is limited to males. It is not uncommon to see men all over town with some modesty relieving themselves. But in the country, or along the roadways, both men and women can be observed in this act – again, expercising some discretion in their movements.
Many habits are shared by men and women. Spitting knows no seperation of the sexes and the only difference where the uncommon practice of smoking is observed – uncommon because poverty mercifully keeps the practice rather at bay – is that women are more likely to use delicate pipes rather than smoke the cigarettes favored by men.
It is important to backtrack for a moment with regards to the comment about how men that are engaged in construction work finish their day less dirty than do I. This is not to imply that the Sudanese do not work hard. If they have a job to do the Sudanese, men and women, are a very hard working people, working six and seven days a week if need be. By the same token, if they do not have a job the Sudanese can hardly be induced to stir and are apt to remain sitting in the ubiquitous plastic chairs in the shade all day. Sudanese see no reason to waste effort needlessly.
In practice, Sudan is largely a male dominated society. When you see couples walking along the men always lead, the women following a few paces behind, and in terms of feeding and most other actions the men always come first. I have never been to a private dinner where the men were not fed first with the women having to be content with the remains. I understand, too, that in legal matters the courts tend to favor men and certainly where a couple divorces the children always go to the man. This is somewhat ironic given my observation that the women of Sudan do most of the work and are carrying this country on their backs – or, more accurately, their heads if you've ever seen the enormous loads women here are capable of carrying upon their heads. Besides the usual big pots of grain or bundles of firewood or jerry-cans of water that women regularly carry, the heaviest load I have yet seen a woman carry on her head was the woman – a middle aged woman, no less - on the road to Terekeka, who had a kilometer or more ahead of her before reaching town and who knows how long she had already walked, who had upon her head one of the body sized bags of charcoal, an object heavier than I can hardly even lift. The art of learning to carry upon their heads starts early for girls. Certainly by the age of five or so girls are beginning to practice walking deliberately, ramrod upright and transporting small pots or bags of grain. As their size increases so does their carrying capacity along with their skill. While out for a stroll in Rumbek I loped behind two teenage girls each of whom had upon her head a large bag of grain while between them they kicked along a large rock as they walked and talked. Impressive indeed, and a genuine source of pride. I have tried to imagine American women walking from grocery stores or malls with budles piled-up on their heads, their hands free to operate cell-phones or reach for a set of keys or to hold a child's hand. Obviously, it is a skill which cannot be picked-up late in life. The skill and strength of neck muscles required must be started early in life in order for the practice to be successful. But it is interesting to see women walking around, even in a large city like Juba, gracefully upright and walking ever so deliberately, a legacy perhaps of a childhood spent learning how to carry large bundles upon their heads.
Perhaps the one maddening habit of the Sudanese is their impatience when facing a que, or line. Instinctively, the Sudanese will all bunch towards the front and are never shy about cutting in front of a line to try and be first. This happens whether taking tea or at the bank or, most dangerous of all, while driving. At all times upon the roads except for the largest and slowest vehicles, all other vehicles are forever jockeying for position and never hesitating to pass each other. Two lane roads are often converted into four lane roads as vehicles rush to pass one another, either two in opposite directions or even two passing one going in the same direction. At intersections, which at the largest locations are roundabouts, vehicles all cram forward until almost no one can go owing to the jam-up. I often marvel at this degree of impatience and the consequential delays it creates, even in so simple an act as taking tea. Rather than form an orderly que in which each takes his turn, the Sudanese will cram forward until they are a mass of elbows and knees and no one can get their shai. One keeps hoping that they will see the error of their ways, but so long as each person thinks that they will be the one to get through more quickly by their actions, so it will continue. Fascinating people.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Greetings and such.

There is nothing more important to the Sudanese than personal relationships. Their friendships, their associations with others – these are key to understanding the Sudanese. I was sharply reminded of this a few weeks ago. There is a retired bishop that has been living for some time at the Guest House. One evening an old childhood friend of the bishop's that is now working for a government ministry stopped by for a visit. I had the pleasure of meeting the bishop's friend and spending some minutes talking with these gentlemen. And as I was taking my leave I said to the friend, in a typical breezy American style of something you say without really thinking about it, “See you, and if I can ever help you, give me a call.” The friend was aghast. “Oh, no,” he said, “We do not know each other well enough for us to consider talking business. We must meet several more times, get to know each other better, before we can discuss business.” Chastened, I replied that he was, of course, correct and that I would enjoy seeing him again.
It may seem maddening to a westerner how much time the Sudanese spend sitting around in plastic chairs under shade trees just talking and doing, to our minds, precious little. But it is all part of the social fabric here, it is how relationships are forged, connections made, news transmitted and ideas discussed. And for a society which still is ruled by tribal considerations and who you know is far more important than what you know, the strength of these social connections is what governs how society functions. And it is because of how deep these associations and friendships run that explains why Sudanese greet each other so warmly, with genuine affection, in rituals which convey all kinds of meaning. Though a real Sudanese might laugh at my misunderstandings, I have observed the following styles of greetings during my time here.
Shakinghands is the most important ritual performed by the Sudanese. Whenever you meet someone or you see someone you know you are expected to stop whatever your doing and shake hands. It doesn't matter if you've already shaken hands with these people already today. It doesn't matter if you just shook hands with these people five minutes ago. If they visit you in your office, or you visit them in theirs, you are expected once again to shake hands. Doing less is considered offensive. Also, if you meet someone out and you have a few minutes of conversation, it is not uncommon as each of you makes a point or as you share a laugh or bit of news that you might shake hands again...and again. It is also not uncommon – and this primarily for men rather than women – to see people of the same sex walking hand in hand. It is meant as a sign of friendly or brotherly affection, nothing more. Although I see this somewhat in Juba, this practice is much more common in the countryside. When I spent a weekend in Terakeka I probably observed more than two dozen instances of men walking around hand in hand. The Sudanese would be offended beyond belief if anyone suggested that such behavior had a sexual component, being as they are rather homophobic in general. No, it is a sign of friendship and one I've had to become used to myself as I've had my hand held by men at times.
When two Sudanese with a good regard for each other meet – where there has been some time between meetings – they will first place their right hands on each other's left shoulders, or tap their friend's left shoulder, before shaking hands and/or embracing. A more elaborate hand shake in such an instance might involve the regular shake, then a shake wherein thumbs are gripped, and then back to a regular shake. It is a variant of the style of handshakes that used to be practiced in Afrcan-American communities back in the 1970's and '80's. A less intense means of a person showing affection or respect for the person whose hand they are shaking might be to grip the other person's hand with two hands.
When a person wishes to show great deference to the person whose hand he is shaking – and this can occur because of any number of social or economic disparities between people – the person showing the deference will shake hands with their right hand but place their left hand on their right forearm, maybe six-inches or so up from their wrist. I've also seen people do this, for example, at church during free-will offerings. The person making the offering will hold their outstretched right arm with their left hand six-inches up from the wrist. In that case they might even bow slightly.
A variation of this in reverse is when you've already got your hand out to greet someone, the person you're greeting might offer you their right forearm for you to touch rather than offer their hand. But I've also seen this done during mealtimes. Since the Sudanese – real Sudanese, anyway – eat primarily with their hands, if you meet someone while their hands are soiled with food they will likely offer you their right forearm to touch. The washing of hands before and after meals is an ingrained, lovely public ritual which visitors quickly come to appreciate. It shortly becomes second nature to you to expect to wash hands before and after every meal to where it will be difficult not to enjoy this public ritual upon returning home.
The Sudanese are a lovely, gracious people, with impeccable manners. In their speech, in their deportment, they are never less than courteous. I've never heard anyone use vulgar or salacious language, I've never even heard anyone curse. It is a refreshing change from America. And though I have not discounted the possibility that people are behaving this way since there is an outsider around, I have observed the Sudanese often enough in their private moments to think they are like this most of the time. Lovely people.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mosquito Wars

This is the rainy season in Sudan. The term "Rainy Season," is relative though. It's not like India where is rains, from what I gather, for months on end. Here, from roughly April to October, there is an increased likelihood of rain, versus the rest of the year when there is normally no rain whatsoever. The only drawback to receiving the life-giving rains is that it increases the incidence of mosquitoes. This is problematical because without any program of eradication and with mounds of garbage everywhere serving as collection points for rain, the number of mosquitoes is very great. And, as luck would have it, Sub-Sahara Africa is one of the worst places on earth for mosquito born and transmitted diseases. In addition to the usual suspects of Yellow and Dengue fevers, and the much more rare Elephantasis or Sleeping Sickness (though, in fairness, the latter is transmitted by the dreaded Tsetse flies and not mosquitoes), the worst of the lot is Malaria, which still kills millions every year in spite of its being a completely preventable disease. All of this makes anyone living in the Sudan very aware of the existence and behavior of the pesky bugs, even to the point of becoming famiiar with the different types. The common mosuito, Culex, rests parallel to any wall its upon and mostly just causes inconvenience. Aedes, another parallel rester with swept-back wings like an F-14, spreads Dengue and Yellow Fever. Finally, Anapheles, a rather humpbacked looking beast, rests with its head towards the wall and its hind end sticking out. Culex and Anapheles are morning and evening feeders, while Aedes feeds during the day,meaning that at almost no point is one safe from annoyance and risk. You take the usual precautions of wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, hats and bug repellent while at home (sans hat) and out and about. This is somewhat trying given that the average daytime temperatures here hover around 90-degrees making Sudan feel all the time very much like Virginia in July and August. You also become obsessed with trying to keep the bugs out of your quarters. Virtually all windows here are covered with fine screening, though somehow mosquitoes still manage to get through. You also try and swat them when you can knowing fully well that you're not accomplishing much but it just feels so darned good to do! In my lodgings there were five vents-ways left near the ceiling between my rooms and the adjacent hallway and bedroom. These were unscreened and, especially the vent that was open to the common hallway which opened directly to the outside, permitted large numbers of mosquitoes to enter my rooms. I have tried, with only marginal success, to get the other people living in my building to keep the door to the outside closed to keep the bugs at bay. But last friday evening, I took about an hour and using some extra netting and a roll of duck tape that I'd brought with me (Because you never go anywhere without duck-tape) and standing upon a plastic table and chairs I'd crafted into a ladder so I could reach, was able to cover over the vent-ways, giving me a small feeling of victory in the never ending mosquito wars. This has helped to eliminate about ninety-percent of the mosquitoes getting into my room, but vigilence is always required.

Friday, May 21, 2010

In the Sudan

It's taken over a week, but I've finally been able to get myself on-line and reasonably up and running. You learn quickly here the difference between western time and "Sudan time." In the Sudan, the pace of life is slower, but deliberately so. Likely owing to the warmth - even now, in what is the "cool season," days typically peak-out somewhere around 80-odd degrees - there is a steady rhythm to life, a measured pace that is rather slower than our pace in the west. I would describe it as a steady lope, and as you move around the city or out in the countryside everyone is moving to the same steady lope. The only people I see running are small children or westerners that have not yet adapted themselves to the local pace. It is funny to be walking, or even more noticibly to be driving around, and see hundreds of people walking around all at the same languid pace. It is all the more impressive given the character of their appearance. True to what I had been informed, most of the locals are rather tall and slender. And neatness of appearance is of critical importance to the Sudanese, and at almost all times while they are out in public you will see men and women dressed very finely, in what we might call our "Sunday best," slowly loping about the city. Tall, lanky men dressed often monochromatically in matching blouses and long slacks, and the women dressed in beautiful tunics with very bright, patterned wraps covering their bodies and carried up over their heads, all of them loping about town. The image I had beforehand of tuniced men with turbans and women in bhurkas does not exist here in the southern part of the country and I've seen very few people dressed in the Muslim style, though there are a number of mosques in town, including one of the largest not far from the office. The oft-heard call of the muzzein calling the faithful to prayer becomes part of the background noise of the city, though because I haven't been here that long I am still enchanted by the novelty of it and find myself listening hard to make out the familiar phrase, "Allah akhbar." Overall, the people are remarkably kind, polite, intelligent and thoughtful. They place primary importance on personal relationships, and devote a large portion of the day to warmly greeting one another and sharing news of how everyone is doing. It would be unthinkable to a Sudanese to enter a room and begin straight away talking business without first greeting everyone in the room, shaking hands and such, even if the same person had been in the room only a few minutes before. This behavior accounts for much of the difference in the pace at which progress is made, but it also encourages consensus and congeniality which has a value of its own.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Laptop Woes

The laptop which I ordered two weeks ago finally arrived today. I just wanted to buy an inexpensive computer off ebay so if it was lost or stolen (likely both) it wouldn't be that big a deal. I am also glad I went that route since after talking with some of the missionary people it was explained to me that it was normally expected that missionaries LEAVE their computer equipment behind...along with any unused toiletries...and office supplies...andbasically anything except what you're wearing and one pair of skivvies. When the laptop arrived I couldn't even figure how to turn it on (needed to mash the ON button a lot harder) but Miss Pam Bullock was my saving angel and spent about seven hours with me today getting the laptop all set-up! I'm working from it right now! Had a great dinner out again - haven't bought my own dinner in about two weeks! Now to relax and get myself prepared for tomorrow.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Packing Woes

Finding it very hard to get going packing. I think it's the fear of leaving something behind that is keeping me from being willing to actually put anything into one of my bags. If it's out of site maybe I'll forget it? I keep thinking, "If I could get mostly done packing then I could just relax the last day or so," but it isn't working out that way. I'm also a bit vexed because the cheap laptop I ordered to take to Africa won't arrive until Monday. I had planned on packing this in my main suitcase so that was holding me up from packing that bag, but I've been given the advice that placing a delicate electronic device into a checked piece of luggage makes as much sense as letting a Lab guard the cookies. I also found it necessary to purchase one more piece of luggage because of all the crap I'm planning on taking. I am such a bitch! I'm actually filling one 30-inch dufflebag mostly with toiletries and the like! The poor Africans on the last little plane taking us from Kenya to Sudan will hardly be able to get off the ground.