Touchdown Werkok!


I am pleased to report that all have arrived safely in Werkok but I hope you will indulge some of the details of what it took to get here. On our flight from Nairobi to Juba Kenya Airlines treated us to a brand new Embier 190 aircraft. According the seat back magazine it had be put into service in Sept and was looking sharp. The service was good, departure only a little delayed and landing excellent. Ground temperature 33C. There was a high level delegation of some sort on board because a special ceremony awaited them and about 20 of our fellow passengers were whisked away. The rest of us were treated to the standard Sudanese processing which was something to behold. Its difficult to describe how disorganized it was because to make it so it seems they had to go out of their way. About 200 (two flights) of us crammed in a room such that we could not move and then after we were all in they started piling the checked bags on us as well. The process was to stand in one of three lines to get your VISA stamped. Once you got your VISA stamped you fought your way back through the throng to the baggage pile and find a way to fish out what was yours. Customs consisted of someone not in uniform looking you over and deciding if he liked you or not. Fortunately all our bags got through. The whole process took about an hour and with an outdoor temp as it was the indoor temperature was at least 40C. It was a relief to see Deng Jongkuch's smile and to have his help negotiating the situation.

J.J. And Victor of CMA met us a vehicle and a couple of car loads later we were in the Across compound. The compound provides overnight accommodations for the going Juba rate of around $75 per person per night. For this sum you get a mattress, pillow, mosquito netting, a sheet and a towel. You also get access to the communal toilet and shower. Finally, they have a generator that runs from 7PM to midnight so you can charge some electronics and enjoy the $20 fan that is in your room.

The next morning in Juba we spent at MAF resolving the baggage situation. In the end we where able to get the most critical items on board including Deng. Following a few hours of waiting we proceeded back to the Juba air terminal (yes the terminal we enjoyed the day before). I will mention that next to the present terminal is the future Juba airport. Juba is the capital of South Sudan so an appropriate terminal is in order. The new terminal will be very large and looks very modern and about 50% complete. It will be a happy day when it is up and running. We had a long wait in the Juba airport waiting for the MAF flight. Fortunately there was a little air conditioning, well at least until the power went out. We sat in the dark as the temperature rose.

After two hours our MAF flight was ready to receive us and we climbed aboard with a young female Kenyan pilot at the controls. After a prayer we were off for our1 hour flight to Werkok airport. The condition of the Werkok landing field has been a concern and after a simulated landing on the field our pilot decided that it was not suitable and that we would redirect to Bor airport. Deng summoned our one operating vehicle from MCH and negotiated a fee of around $160 for an additional vehicle to transport our baggage the remaining 5 miles. The below photo shows our party looking a little tired at the Bor airport as the MAF plane takes off leaving us behind.

The trip by road was a 1 hour bone jarring journey over a road that is difficult to appreciate without first hand experience. But just as complete darkness fell we arrived to a warm welcome by the MCH staff.

I could write much more but time and your patience are probably at an end.

Some praises:

-Safe arrival -Good health for all our party -The warm welcome from the MCH staff the lifted our spirits -Safe arrival of most of our cargo. -A cool night for sleeping

Some concerns:

-The cargo which did not arrive including some parts for the solar system. -Our MCH vehicles -No fuel for the backhoe -Hot days for working

Paul Bixel