Friday, 9 November 2012

Of Soldiers, Malaria and Pin Cushions...

Written on 23/11/2010

Good afternoon all,

Here I sit in the office of AbdelKhalid, manager of the coke warehouse in Rabak. That's right, you read correctly - Rabak! We are back again...

Early on Wednesday the 27/10/2010 we set out from Rabak heading for Southern Sudan. It felt great to be back on the road and adding kilometres to our journey... We quickly fell into a routine of riding 12-15km in the morning before finding some shady spot near some water for lunch and a rest and then riding a further 5-7km in the evening to the nearest village. 20km a day doesn't sound like much but it slowly eats up the distance!
On the road (railway line!) again.


Lunch spot!
Unfortunately, Chami started to get a pressure sore on his back and I found myself doing a lot of walking! Reliable Nali just kept coming, albeit VERY slowly! You would think that he and William had nowhere to go! The horses also struggled with horse flies and mosquitoes of which there were many. The closer we were to water the worse they were... It was not unusual for the horses to have spots of blood from bites all over them... poor things. The mosquitoes here are like super heroes! They bite straight through one's clothes. Long sleeves and jeans are no longer enough protection... A suit of armour may suffice though!

We spent the nights in various locations, once next to a little shop, in a school, in a police station, at the Omda's (Headman's) house, on farms and with very normal people in their homes. Once again we were blown away by people's generosity. The poorest people are willing to share everything they have with us.

New friends!

More new friends!
As we neared the border between north and south we were stopped more often by police to check our paperwork, which thankfully is all in order. The border crossing was a little slow but after relatively little hassle, there we were in the south! It really does feel like a different country - There is savannah and thorn scrub intermingled with very green patches. Beautiful ponds with lily pads dot the landscape. There are more Christians and fewer Muslims. Although everyone speaks Arabic, there is an abundance of other languages, English included. Men and women dress differently from the north. There are no camels but lots of cattle with impressive horns. Villages consist of thatched huts made of reeds rather than the standard mud house of the north. People were just as friendly though a little more wary of us.

Along the road!

A southern girl...
We arrived in the south in the morning and as is normal we found a place to rest during the heat of the day. We had just finished untacking when a whole platoon of soldiers arrived demanding that we return to their camp with them immediately. After tacking up the horses again (which takes a while with all our kit) we started walking with them. I couldn't work out why they were being so aggressive with us... a few minutes later, an intelligence officer who we had met and befriended at the border post arrived on a motorbike. He quickly found out what the problem was - someone had told the soldiers that we were carrying guns! After they searched our kit and chatted with this officer, they relaxed and became very friendly and apologetic!

Just before we were arrested!
After 10 days we arrived in Renk, the first big town in Southern Sudan. We made our way to the government veterinary clinic where we asked to stay. Having been told that the road to Malakal was still closed, we were left with only one option - to get a barge from Renk to Juba. After much discussion and information seeking, we discovered that all the barges were full and we would need to book our space in Kosti. Billy was to take a bus to Kosti and organize this when he came down with malaria ... and typhoid! We ended up staying 2 weeks in Renk while he tried to recover. I am now adept at giving injections in the bum and drips! I must say that he never complained and put up with being a pin cushion!

Hospital Bed!
We then heard that the road to Malakal was now open and our next thought was to ride to Malakal and then catch the barge to Juba. But it was not to be.... Billy has very painful haemarrhoids from the Typhoid and can't sit his horse. It will take too long for him to recover and we have little time left on our visa. So back to Rabak we came to book a place on a barge to Juba. I am told it will take 3 weeks - let us hope this is long enough for Billy to recover completely so we can ride on from Juba to Uganda.

We hope to be on the barge in the next couple of days. Check our facebook profile Christy Billy Africanhoofprints for updates from our phantom facebooker!

Kind Regards,

Christine and William

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