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


ndepippo said...

Erin - your dad sent me the blog with pix of paul's new 'do. wow, he's changed since i last saw him. your life there in uncomprehensible to me. You're very brave. what is your actual goal? i just finished reading Poisonwood Bible - have you read it? seems like things have not changed there at all. what do you think of your dad's big promotion? he's all the news in the financial papers. and to think i used to make him chocolate chip cookies in college. Stay Safe. Nancy DePippo

Monica said...

eh what are boda-bodas and matatus? ;)

Petunia said...

mon, boda-bodas are motorbikes used as taxis, and matatus are minibuses (more like vans), also public transportation.

nancy, i started reading the poisonwood bible years ago but never finished it - i'll have to start again! i'm here working on HIV/AIDS prevention and support programs. say hi to joe for me! and i wouldn't mind some of those chocolate chip cookies right about now ;)