September 8, 2012
I got out of Africa last Friday but it was a struggle. When I got to the radio station I noticed two rips in the bottom of my brand new, “lifetime guarantee,” ultra-light, ultra strong suitcase. Turning it over I found another rip in the bottom and one of its “feet” coming loose. Getting a new suitcase in Juba on short notice was not an option so I used the whole roll of duct tape I carry to hold the suitcase together.
Suitcase patched, Christina came into the office looking stricken. “I have a problem with my piece, can you come to production right now.” In production the whole staff had gathered with a basket on the table. In the basket were two traditional costumes, one for me and one for Suzi. I don’t know how they found one to fit me. I was moved by this generous gift but also troubled. My bag was already tearing apart. I dared not add any more weight. I pulled out the spare duffel that I carry (I’m an Alaskan, spare duffel, duct tape, flashlight, first aid kit, I come prepared) and packed away my new treasures. (At the airport torn suitcase weighed 15 kilos. Its capacity is supposed to be 23 kilos, so I had not overloaded it.)
My plan was to go to lunch at Yei Road Camp (to say good-by to the leopards and my lunch companions) and, from there, go to the airport. About 20 minutes before I was to leave Jimmy, the driver, told me that he had to run some reporters into the Customs House so he may be late to pick me up. OK, I could skip Yei Road if necessary. He did get back in time to drop me off at the camp for a quick lunch and a tumble with the leopard kitties. But when he dropped me off he told me he has to get Keith downtown but would be back by 1:20 (I had a 3:15 flight).
The kitties have graduated to live prey every two days and were about to start on chicken. There was still no home for them but South Africa might take them in. But if they go to South Africa they will not be set free because of the fear of genetic mixing. They will live in a safari park and be fed by people (they like that better than hunting guinea pig or bunny rabbit.) But it means that we sacrificed Boris and the bunnies for no reason. Some of the people at the camp do not like the idea of putting them in a big zoo, which is what a safari park is, but it’s better than the alternative, starving or being shot because they become nuisance cats. My last visit Lulu was her friendly self while Baxter ran away and hid. I think she doesn’t like the flash on my camera.
The car did not come at 1:20. When it pulled up at 1:30 Jimmy told me that he had not picked up Keith because of a traffic accident. He came back to get me first. On the way to the airport we saw the accident. A tractor trailer had flipped on its side. It had a huge cylinder chained to its flatbed that had rolled into the other lane of traffic, another victim of the shifting roadbed in the rainy season. The UN police had arrived to direct traffic and we got around the accident and I got to the airport…
…where the power was out. I wanted to check my bag though to Amsterdam (if for no other reason than for me to get to the baggage claim I would need to buy a Kenyan transit visa for $20.) I decided to wait for power to come back rather than accept the prepared baggage tag for Nairobi. The power did come back and my bag was on the belt in Amsterdam when I arrived. So now I am really “out of Africa.”
The Pics below are one last look at South Sudan.