Since my last post we have spent our time in Nairobi in preparation for leaving for South Sudan on Sunday. Thursday was a shopping day for us in Nairobi. Kind of like black Friday but without the sales. Driving in Nairobi is best left to a professional which in our case was our Sammy. Sammy is the procurement specialist for AIM Air and just the man for the job at hand. Nairobi appears on various “most dangerous city” lists and traffic fatalities are a big part of why. So it is both comforting and unnerving when Sammy begins each trip with a prayer. This is something even our Mayfield drivers do. Being chosen to ride in the front seat adds an extra level of 'fun' to the experience. On this day that honor fell to Gary Meernik. But it turns out he catches on quickly and was soon requesting to be moved further back in the bus.
There are no WalMarts in Nairobi. Shopping is like a treasure hunt were you start at one point and gather clues from the people you meet along the way. Take for example our quest to have a functioning welder in Werkok. After some time Sammy was able to get us a welder generator which was shipped to Juba. We stopped by the vendor to get some technical details about what we purchased and discovered that the system did not include the required welding cables. These of course could not be procured at this vendor who sells only generators so a 10 minute ride later we are at the cable vendor. He had the cables but could not supply the proper terminals for the end of the cables. So another vendor later we had the treasure secured. It was a long day with many such stops. Turns out that many items commonly available in the USA are unheard of here. Canned fruit, window air conditioners and propane torches among them. Lessons learned.
We have also taken some time to refresh some relationships important to PCC. We had a nice dinner with Joy Phillips of WGM last night and AIM Pilot Jim Streit showed up for part of it. The table was abuzz with simulations conversations as everyone was eager to catch up on the latest news. Friday we lunched with Debbie Kitchel and learned the latest from CMA. The procedure situation for entering and leaving South Sudan has changed over the last year as the government asserts more control over the process. It's important to keep on top of things before attempting to visit and several horror stories were recounted. One thing of note here for others is that Debbie understands the yellow fever card is still a requirement to transit from Sudan to Kenya and this regardless of your age and what your Dr. told you back home. No other document will suffice. Interestingly Debbie does not take anti-malarial pills and has had malarial several times herself. Still she recommends that people visiting for brief periods do so.
Jim Streit and Thom Day seem to be birds of a feather. Some motorcycle riding is a result. They were out last night riding the streets of Nairobi past my bedtime and then this morning they headed into the hills. For the record, helmets and “high vis' outer wear is required here. You will have to be the judge about how cool Thom looks as he goes local by examining the attached photo.
I can report that our entire team is well and in good spirits in this lull before the storm. The storm begins in the morning when we commence the final push to Werkok. Things which are on our minds and could be in your prayers are the condition of the runway in Werkok and how we are going to get all our equipment to the site. The Caravan hired for the final leg cannot carry all the equipment and people we have. So a plan B is being developed. Finally there is an issue of diesel fuel at the hospital, the lack of which effects hospital operations and our ability to operate heavy equipment as we need to do.
Take care all, my next post will be from Werkok.