I finally got out to see a bit more of the city this morning. I’ve more or less been driven around since I got here, and that’s getting old pretty fast. Despite my morning walk being a bit overambitious, I enjoyed it immensely. I hope I can start walking to work in the mornings (I walked past there today, it’s a little under an hour walk) .
I did not see another expat (I keep wanting to say “mzungu,” but since we’re not in a swahili-speaking country, and I don’t know the word for “white person” in bari or arabic, I keep defaulting to “expat” — even though that’s not really correct since technically there’s a lot of Kenyan and Ugandan expats. I guess I mean “not obviously Southern Sudanese” which makes me feel racist.) on my entire walk. I don’t know if that means that they’re talking it easy because it’s Sunday, sleeping in, going to church, or if all expats really don’t walk around here much. I’m arriving at a time when Southern Sudan is relatively stable and safe; however, most people working here have been in the country long enough to have first hand experience with the realities of an instable, and are understandably cautious.
That being said, I’m still uncomfortable with the division that always exists between expat aid workers and realities of life. Don’t get me wrong, there are organizations here doing great work, and it would be impossible (especially considering the human resource/brain drain that occurred in Southern Sudan because of decades of war) without the consultants and outside people brought in. But I still feel slightly uncomfortable to be living in somewhat of a palace. And, academically, I know that it’s the difference between being a volunteer who expects to live somewhere on the squalor scale and actually being gainfully employed. But the fact that I can escape to my air conditioned prefab room or office during the heat of the day, watch 2 channels on cable, and be driven everywhere I need to go, well… makes me feel a little distant from reality. The walk this morning was a nice way to connect more with the city.
And look, I told you there were several paved roads. This is the Main Road in town. Goes past a lot of hotels, international organizations, and the ministries.
I ended up speaking with one of those guys in the picture for about a half an hour. Interesting man named Jacob from Torit, South Sudan. He helpfully pointed out several landmarks along the way as we teased out information about Southern Sudan and America from each other. And was very confused why this white american girl was out walking (“just walking” wasn’t a sufficient answer, so I ended up telling them I was looking for a supermarket, which I sort of was).
When I finally got back to my room, I immediately guzzled probably 4 liters of water. Perhaps next time I’ll start my walk a little earlier in the day.
PS: Miraculously not burned. Sunscreen, FTW.
PPS: My al Jazeera channel is broken (the hotel has control over what channels show up, so sometimes they change them in the middle of a show or if the electricity goes out someone needs to reset them, and that hasn’t happened yet) so the only english channel I have right now is alternating between Liverpool soccer and the Cricket World Cup. Cricket is possibly the most ridiculously boring game ever. In case you were wondering.