Would you believe . . . a hawk ate my report?

Laying in wait for the next victim

I woke up early, the roosters in Abyei aren’t as confused as the roosters in Juba, but then after seeing how early it was and having gone to bed around 12:30 a.m. – 1:00, I went back to bed and slept until 10:00 p.m. when I was awoken by a voice outside my tent, it was my M & E Officer, telling me that one of the people we needed to meet with was getting ready to leave and wasn’t coming back until after R & R. I sent her to talk to him to verify the situation and I jumped out of bed, threw my clothes on, went up to the pit latrine and the sink, forgot my toothbrush and face wash, went back to the tent, then back to the sink, then found out it was a false alarm, he was only headed to Wunrock for the day. I finished making myself presentable, but only remained clean for about five minutes. 

But I was up.  So I went to see about breakfast.  It was cold pancakes. You don’t ask things around here, like is there

A Dive Bomber

 any syrup or jam, because people look at you like you have to heads as if to say, “Are you joking?”  So instead I asked the operations manager what to put on the pancakes, he suggested sugar.  I put two very thick cold pancakes in a bowl, fixed myself a cup of coffee and then covered them with another bowl on my way to the Arcuba to eat.  I had been informed that you have to cover your food from the tin serving shack to the Arcuba otherwise the hawks swoop down and take it.  The operations guy had a hawk chomp on his head, and the day before our new finance person had lost two eggs to a sneaky, hawk.  They were like vultures all perched in the trees, scanning the door of the tin shed for their next victim.  In the mornings there are at least 10 to 15 around by lunch 20 to 30.  During lunch they were actually joined by a vulture, I think it was the first time I’d seen one in the wild. 

I spent the day, revising the quarterly report format, in a basic office with fans, but no air conditioning; in the afternoons when it’s 10 degree below Hell, the computers get really hot, it feels like you could cook something on the bottom of your computer, and start malfunctioning, I had to pound on my left mouse button to be able to click and the internet was slow going. 

The Market

Like most developing countries Sudan is covered by different cell phone companies it’s Zain, in the North and South and Mountain (MTN) in the middle. I needed to buy a MTN sim card, I also wanted to see if there was anything to purchase for my friends, possibly bed sheets; so we headed to Anet market; you can buy clothes, shoes, bed sheets, batteries; I bought  new plastic bag for shopping; sim cards, stripped bras, mats, tang, tea, coffee, canned pineapple, beer, sometimes canned tuna; not much to be honest.   There were a couple of beautiful pieces of fabric I was interested in, but they kept giving us the white man’s price.  I’ve learned to say I want the Sudanese price not the Khawja price, but they still wouldn’t come down far enough, so no bed sheets for my friends.  I did however, buy some guava flavored tang looking powder, so I’ll see.

I wanted to eat when the food was still hot; I guess the cooks put it out at 6:00 p.m. The food is a little sludgy here and we eat a lot of goat meat.  I had potato and pea sludge, a lentil sludge  and then I took this black looking sludge, IT WAS TERRIBLE!  I later learned it was Kudra a type of green vegetable, but they boil it down like baby food and then mix it with goat meat.  If you eat after dark the hawks are gone and the kitties come out, because they are no longer at risk of being picked off by a hawk. 

We had been invited to someone’s going away party at our neighbors’ Medecins Sans Frontiers, compound; I got to see where the hospital was, it’s a field hospital, but it can’t hurt to have doctors for your neighbors in this environment.  Our next door neighbors are GOAL North one of our program partners.  I spent the evening debating why pit latrines, at leat one on the compound, needs to have a seat, my debate partner thinks that they are cleaner without seats on them (by seat we are talking about a very short box with a toilet seat nailed to it) for me a seat makes them more accessible for people with disabilities. In this instance – me.

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