Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Thankful list

My friend Meg has a tradition of writing a Thanksgiving list for that which she is most grateful from the past year. I love this idea and am going to start doing the same. So here goes.

1. My wonderful, loving family who supports me doing what I love in life
2. Nights when city power is on and the fan runs all night!
3. The little things which make me smile and get me through the day here in Juba (like right now, watching lizards chase each other around on the wall outside my window)
4. A fabulous job that challenges me and is hugely rewarding
5. Mint chocolate chip ice cream
6. Online card games and 3 hour long cat discussions with Biz
7. My two Beatrice who I miss terribly and can't wait to see next month and their men who make them feel like Reinitas
8. My brother Paul and his (former) mohawk and trebuchet
9. My brother Luke and his considerateness
10. Music. It makes life worth living.
11. Cipro. It's been a lifesaver twice now.
12. Kitchen dance parties with canned beats!!! Cafe Ontario must live on!!!
13. The hundred acre wood and for not merely living in the past but continuing to make memories in the present
14. Modern technology that lets me trapse around the globe but still be in touch with the people I love. Especially satelite phones so I can call my family on Thanksgiving from Sudan.
15. A world that lets me be idealistic while still being realistic
16. Mad Dog 20/20 and the people who send it to me in Sudan (RyRy I'm still waiting!!!)
17. Good advice. Meg, Tiff, Mom & Dad, KJ, Cyd, Julie, Melody, Lorea, I value your opinions more than you know.
18. Beaches and scuba diving
19. People who give good hugs - way too many to name
20. LC, JS, CH, DA, TM, AM, CC - I think about you guys often and can feel your warmth and support from afar :)
21. The support of family friends. Hettinger, Gaskin, Zinn, Dosio, it's great to know you're there.
22. Massages, manicures and pedicures
23. Kikoys and people who give them as gifts

Happy Thanksgiving everyone :)

Much love

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

the lucky sudanese man from kentucky

Waiting on line in the airport coming back to Juba from my R&R I stood behind a group of men that were obviously Sudanese. One of them especially. Even in a long overcoat and tie he looked like he could step out of a plane in Rumbek and be right at home. I didn't expect to be able to so quickly and obviously identify Sudanese out of context. But I did with no hesitation. "You're traveling to Juba?" I asked them. They turned around, looked at me in surprise, and replied, "yes, and you?" I told them I was headed to the same place, that I worked in Juba. "Flying on Marsland?" "No, Jetlink." The tall Dinka in the overcoat put his hand on one of his companions' shoulder and proudly said, "My brother here is living in Kentucky." The lucky Sudanese man from Kentucky sporting a suit and Dallas Cowboy's cap added, "it's the first time I'm visiting Sudan in 23 years." All I could reply was, "Wow, that's a long time." "I know, I haven't seen my mama or my family, it's a long long time." I wanted to ask so much more: How old were you back in 1984? Did you stay in the camps in Kenya before moving to the US? What part of Sudan is your family from? What do you expect to find when you land? What is your name? But as airports often do, we were steered through the security and check-in points, and I didn't see him again. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in that situation. The man looked like he was in his early 30's, so he must have been very young when he left Sudan. This place would be virtually unrecognizable from what it was in the mid 1980's and I wonder how what he considers his identity to be will be changed by this trip.

As some background, Southern Sudan is starting over after years (21+) of devastating civil war. The war was over resources (control over oil and water), religion (Christian vs. Muslim), inter-tribal conflict (Dinka vs. Nuer), and slavery. I don't feel like re-writing what you can find on Wikipedia about the history of the conflict, so click here for more info:

Monday, November 12, 2007

lashings and nairobi

The other day I was driving down airport road near our office when I passed this dude marching up the middle of the street carrying a 6-foot baton like the leader of a marching band. He was marching, high knees, left hand on hip, twirling the thing around up the hill. Never a dull moment in Juba. An even less dull moment was last week when a certain member of our staff was driving on a motorbike, and got splashed by another vehicle. He proceeded to chase the vehicle all the way across town to the UN compound (the car realized they were being followed so started driving really fast) where he got out of the car and started yelling at the passengers telling them that they needed to come with him to the police station in order to be lashed. Yes, lashed. That is the law in Southern Sudan as the penalty for splashing someone. The other vehicle, I might add, was carrying expat women. Wouldn't you love to have someone yelling at you in broken English that you needed to be hit with a cane for accidently splashing them? Yeah. I know I would appreciate it.

I'm in Nairobi right now on R&R staying at a friend's flat getting a dose of city life before heading down to Mombasa (Diani beach) for a few days of sun. I never guessed Nairobi would be so, well, gorgeous. There are trees and flowers everywhere, things like hot water work, no crazy boda-bodas zipping around (although matatu drivers are just as bad), and the restaurants are fabulous. We went out on Saturday night to this place called Casablanca to dance and hang out, and it was sooooo nice - they have these divan-like beds with cushions where you can lounge on and have your drinks or hookah, and mini-bonfires outside on enormous metal dishes. So lovely. Yesterday one of my friends took me to get a facial - first one I've ever had, and it was fabulous. Going back today for a massage and a pedicure. Everyone needs a bit of pampering sometimes ;) I may have to make a ritual of spending a day at a spa whenever I come here on R&R from Juba.

I have to say, it took me a full 2 days to adjust to being out of Sudan - waking up on my own time and not to roosters or generators or kids crying, not having to grab onto the overhead handle when riding in the car in order to not get bounced around, receiving food in a restaurant that is actually what you ordered and what the menu describes, and ice cream. oh my god ice cream. I didn't fully realize how tired I was until this past week, because it kind of creeps up on you. Juba is hard. It's mentally and emotionally draining which if you're me takes itself out on the body - not getting proper rest and losing weight. The first night here I slept until 2pm the next day. I certainly can feel myself unwinding. Now that my ankle is better I can start playing touch rugby again when I get back to Juba, which will do wonders to relieve stress.

Much love

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My brother is awesome

And here's his halloween "costume." I'm lobbying for him to keep the hair, it's just so damn cool.

In other news, I was on TV in Juba the other day, talking about my organization's HIV activities in Central Equitoria State during a Southern Sudan AIDS Commission meeting. How cool is that!

Also, my ankle is getting better. The swelling went down a bunch and the bruising is almost gone. It's fine enough to walk on and dance on (not 100% like my normal dancing, but good enough), but not yet ok enough to play rugby. Maybe next Friday.

And finally, here is a picture from Tambura - the Sudanese version of a gas station.
The guy on the left is a policeman, and yes, he is wearing a fuzzy tiger print cowboy hat. There were several men wearing these, they must have gotten a shipment in from Uganda.