Someone Help This Boy!
Trip Start Sep 29, 2010
159Trip End Nov 29, 2011
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There are two main road systems in South Sudan (to call them ‘main roads’ would be a drastic overstatement indeed): roads running north on the east of the Nile, and those running north on the west of it. The roads in the east basically run through swamps, so during the rainy season (which is now) they become impossible to use. So I’m left with those in the west (which run through perhaps only semi-swamp).
I left Juba in the morning of the 29th, on a two-day drive to get to Wau (nice name). Given the state of even these roads (supposedly superior to those in the east), this journey could only be done using a (crowded) 4x4. And boy was this necessary. Now I have been on some pretty shocking ‘roads’ during the last year, and although the title of the ‘worst’ will probably still belong to some of those in Cameroon or Congo, this one is up there amongst the worst
At a food stop in mid-afternoon on day one of two to Wau, I wasn’t hungry (I’d bought perhaps too much cake and bananas in Juba) so spent much of the time talking to the village children. One of them had a limp, and could only walk with the aid of a stick. A closer look revealed the reason why: he seemed to have a horribly infected foot, the likes of which could well leave a young boy lame. I tried to persuade the driver of our vehicle to let me access my bag on the roof. I’m no doctor, and I’m sure I don’t have all the necessary drugs to help him fully, but I do have sterile bandages, antiseptic cream and painkillers. I wasn’t allowed to get my bag, so I hobbled along with the boy and his friend to the village clinic (at least they have one). When I reached the door, my vehicle was driving off. I was left with a choice to help this boy and be perhaps stranded, or to leave him to chance. I took the middle option: I gave him all the money I had on my person (SSP5 ~$1.25) and instructed him and his friend (who spoke surprisingly good English for one so young) to spend this money only on medicines
We also broke down, just as the sun was setting. African mechanics skills sometimes baffle me – instead of replacing the broken nut (apparently this was all that was wrong), an entire chunk of the front left wheel system (don’t ask me what it was) was removed. My logic would say that ‘if it’s there, it’s probably necessary’. My logic is not African logic, but then I have learnt that many times over during the last year or so.
My bed for the night was a back-brakingly uncomfortable one in Yirol.