Archive for the month “March, 2013”

So I turned around and saw…

So I turned around and saw...

.. this!
Yes, he just walked out of the trees and there he was. No need for a zoom lens. Just point and click and try not to tremble.
Fortunately for us, he was on his own and didn’t seem in the least bit interested in our little gathering. He just lumbered out of the undergrowth, munched a few bushes and slowly went on his elephantine way.


One of Nature’s Beauties …

One of Nature's Beauties ...

… or ‘lunch’ as the lion might see it!

The King and Queen of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater.

The King and Queen of Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater.

The Ngorongoro Crater is a huge game reserve on the flat plain that formed after the crater’s last eruption millions of years ago.
Because the crater walls are so steep and completely encircle the plain, the wildlife never migrates out of the crater, so there is always a good chance of spotting animals. New regulations in the crater mean that vehicles are not allowed to go off-road, if they see anything interesting, so to get a picture like this, you either have to be very lucky, or have a good zoom facility on your camera, or both.

A Random African Flower for Easter

A Random African Flower for Easter

And a Happy Easter to all blog-followers everywhere.

Very Strange!

Some weird goings-on in Rumbek this week.

I am currently giving English lessons to a group of South Sudanese women who formerly taught in Khartoum, but since Independence have had to move back to South Sudan.  The problem is that, although they are fluent in Dinka and Arabic, they don’t speak English, which is the language of instruction in schools here.

So they have been assigned to the Gender Department of the Ministry, but are effectively unable to work .  Hence the English lessons.

So there we are, going through …

What is your name?     My name is Bakhita.

Where are you from?   I am from Khartoum.

Where is your family?  My family is still in Khartoum.

… when I see hundreds of young people from the school next door filing past our compound, heading for Freedom Square in the centre of town.  Ten minutes later another five or six hundred kids, in a different school uniform, wandered past us heading in the same direction.

When I enquired, I was told that there had been an announcement on the radio the previous evening to say that everyone should turn up that morning to take part in a great town clean up. (There is no awareness of ‘littering’ here.  If you have something you don’t need, like a water bottle or a cigarette packet, you just chuck it.  So the place is a mess.)  “Great,” thought I.  “The new Governor has decided to do something about the litter problem.  Good on him.”

Later that day, I had to go to a UN Security meeting, which meant cycling past Freedom Square.  It was spotless.  I then turned onto the road heading for the UNHCR building where the meeting was to be held.  It’s the same road that leads to the air-strip.

WOW!  Sharp application of brakes.  There, right in front of me, was a road grader actually in the process of repairing the road.  Unbelievable.  It was the first bit of road maintenance that I had seen in the seven months we have been here. “Does not compute!  Does not compute!”   Was this another initiative from the new Governor?  Fantastic!

So, carefully picking my way around the road-building equipment, I proceeded on to my Security meeting.

Agenda Item No 1:  Arrangements for the visit of President Salwa Kiir to Rumbek.

And all of a sudden everything started to become clear.

Sterile Pus.

About two months ago I got a splinter in my index finger.  Not a big deal.  It’s not the first splinter I have had.  I tried to get it out with a tweezers and a pin but it would not co-operate.  It stayed stubbornly lodged under the skin.

No problem.  What tends to happen in a case like this is that the area around the splinter will become infected and the splinter will eventually be forced out by the infected pus.  Not pretty, not really something to think about over breakfast, but quite effective nonetheless.

So I waited … and waited. And nothing happened.  I could still see the splinter under the skin, it didn’t hurt, but it also didn’t show any sign of moving.

One of the other VSO volunteers in Rumbek at the time was a very experienced doctor, who has now, sadly for us, returned to New Zealand.  After about a month I decided to take my stubborn splinter to see him.

He could see the splinter sitting in a little sack of liquid just under the skin.  “Ah”, says he,  ”Are you taking Doxycycline against malaria?”  “Yes.” Says !  “Well,” says he “That explains it. You’ve got sterile pus.”

Of all the ailments I worried about getting when we were planning to come to South Sudan, (malaria, bilharzia, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis), I have to say that ‘sterile pus’ was pretty low down on the list.

“So what can you do, Doctor?” says I.  “Well,” says he.  “We could cut it out … (I don’t know what part he thought I would play in the cutting process, apart from fainting), … but if we do that, we risk  introducing infection.  My suggestion is to ignore it and let nature take its course.  Mother Nature often has ways of dealing with this sort of thing.”

Huh!  What kind of miracle cure is that, I thought to myself.  Ten years medical training, forty years of experience as a qualified doctor all over the world and he refers me to Mother Nature! 

I was thinking of asking for my money back, but then I remembered that I hadn’t paid anything, so I decided to say nothing. He did say that if it hadn’t cleared up in twenty or thirty years I should go back and see him.

And so, here I sit, typing this blog, with a finger full of sterile pus.  It still doesn’t hurt.  In fact I have to look carefully to see if it is still there at all.  Maybe Mother Nature has been at work in her mysterious way.

Our Serengeti Balloon Adventure.

Our Serengeti Balloon Adventure.

This was our first glimpse of what was in store for us – in the headlights of the Land Cruiser that picked us up at 5.00am!

I’m Not Getting Into That!

I'm Not Getting Into That!

But, yes, we did. You had to crawl in while the basket was on its side and let the balloon pull you upright. Great fun.

When you’re sitting comfortably…

When you're sitting comfortably...

… we’ll begin.
The chap in the background was our pilot, Mohamed. He was reckoned to be the best Tanzanian balloon pilot in the world. I must admit I did ask myself just how big a field that was, but, in the event, he was brilliant.

A Lot of Hot Air.

A Lot of Hot Air.

It doesn’t look at all safe to me!

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