Two weekends ago, I jaunted over to Nairobi for a mini-Juba reunion with some friends. Merriment was made, vistas were viewed, laughter was lauded. We even managed to have a solid TIA moment when, 8 hours before friends’ international flights, our car broke down in knee high mud in the middle of nowhere, was pushed out with the help of other weekenders, and subsequently fixed 3 hours later by a mechanic on a boda who stuck a screwdriver in the sparkplug and wrapped some exposed wires with duct tape. Sawa sawa.
All and all good times.
Until I stupidly forgot my running shoes at my friends’ house.
Realizing my folly once back in South Sudan, I rallied a plea for anyone who might be coming out to Juba and wouldn’t mind playing the role of mule (we’ve all done it – I once brought car parts out).
Lo and behold, a friend of friend kindly offered his bag space, and a few emails and taxi driver exchanges later, my shoes were on their way to Juba. Huzzah!
Unfortunately, South Sudan struck again, and the shoe exchange was further delayed. Finally after several days of missed signals due to Malakal fighting, Somalia, and communication mishaps, I showed up, excited to see my beloved grey/pink/orange New Balance (I get slightly attached to running shoes).
So color me surprised when the lad, surely grateful to have done well more than his duty, greets me with something unexpected.
White, blue, and grey shoes, three sizes too small.
A bit befuddled, and not knowing entirely the diplomatic way of proceeding, I stumbled over words before admitting those were not, in fact, my shoes. The look on his face plainly said those were the only ones he’d been given, so I accepted the shoes, thanked him, and left.
Once home, I texted a picture of the shoes to Nairobi-Friend, thinking perhaps he’d accidentally sent his girlfriend’s shoes instead while she was away on work?
Response: “Those were definitely not the shoes sent. Serious look of shock on face. Literally no idea where those came from.”
Further discussion has led to to the conclusion that at some point along the supply chain (Nairobi-Friend – Cleaner – Guard – Taxi driver – Friend of Friend) someone switched the shoes either intentionally (why?) or accidentally (how?).
The mystery therefore remains: Who has my shoes, and whose US size 5.5 shoes are now sitting uselessly on my floor?