Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Muddy blues

      I recently drove from Juba to Maridi in Western Equitoria.  The distance is 185-miles.  It took us nine-hours to get there and about the same to return, maybe 9.5 coming back.  I drove one of our Toyota Landcruiser hardtop cars.  These are great cars for the bush roads, really sturdy and decent riding.  I've covered most of the same idistance in a Honda CRV wagon and a Toyota Hi-Ace van both of which were awful rides, the van - or matatu in the local language - being particularly bad.
     At a spot about 20-km east of Lui (pronounced "Louie") there were two muddy spots in the road which had swallowed vehicles.  In the first an entire tractor-trailer was abandoned buried in the mud while everyone else drove up to 100-meters or more off in the grass on the sides to get around the area.  In the second two trucks were buried about 8-feet down in the mud blocking the road.  Here because of trees and wet-conditions it wasn't really possible to drive around, though going we did manage to scoot around in the grass on one side.  On the way back the sides were so chewed-up we had to wait for the truck that was blocking the road to be pulled-out by this big steel cable before we could get by.  We only lost about a half-hour going and maybe an hour heading back.  Others in our party lost up to 3 hours waiting to get by this same area, so we counted ourselves lucky.  One thing in Africa, people just don't stop moving no matter the obstruction.  I'm always amazed at construction sites how people routinely just go around barricades and over impossible looking pathways, they just don't stop for anything.

This is the general view looking east. Ahead is where two trucks were blocking the road.  We scooted around on the left side.  Many people had been waiting for hours to get by.
A view of the two trucks blocking the way.
Another view of the blockage.  The guy was one of many young men that appeared from who knows where to move the vehicles out of the way.  While returning Sunday morning we reached this spot just after 7am there were already a couple of crates of Nile Special beer lying about and many empty bottles which I did not think bode well for our making progress but we did get by fairly quickly.
This truck was about 8-feet down in the mud.  I cannot believe they actually thought they were going to drive through this mess.
The other truck that was blocking the road.
Some people tried driving around on the south side but it quickly became a muddy mess.
Looking west at the que of trucks and cars waiting to get through

Looking east.  Our car is back there there somewhere.

The car I was driving.  What a great car for driving in the African bush.