It was probably the ants. Two days ago, I was loading photos onto the external drive that stores my photo catalog with Daniel, my 15-year-old guide, translator, assistant. Dozens of tiny ants streamed out of it and onto my lap. I’m guessing the heat generated when I plugged it in may have upset them, or attracted them. They kept coming, so I sprayed the outside with bug spray, which killed them, only to have dozens more join the death march. Eventually they stopped coming out. I loaded the photos. Everything seemed fine, but yesterday when I plugged in the drive, my computer couldn’t see it. I’m afraid their tiny little bodies may have gummed up the works. I’ve saved all the memory cards, so I won’t lose those, but the same drive is also my hard backup. Let’s hope my online backup system, which last did its job March 20, has the rest of my data–and photos from last November. The regular backup time doesn’t match our Internet hours, so I better start doing it manually. I left the drive with Sammy, the tech guy here. He can fix anything from cars to plumbing to satellite dishes and has background in computers, too. It may be another day or so before I post more Facebook pics.
We have to feed the crew. The first day they worked until lunchtime, and I gave the supervisor money to buy lunch in town, at the hotel. The proprietor’s name is Alice. I haven’t been inside, but it consists of a few tukuls, a shower with a neck-high privacy wall of thatching materials, and buckets of water for washing. But there wasn’t any food for the crew there or anywhere. So late yesterday afternoon, Sammy drove, me, Daniel, and Dau, our supervisor, to Poktop, the village on the ill-conceived canal dug to divert the Nile to bring water to the parched North. It now exacerbates the flooding in this area. Carcasses of abandoned cranes are part of the landscape there, the trees beginning to eclipse them. There’s a market with a wide center aisle to accommodate trucks and people. But to find all you want, it’s necessary to make several stops. The prices, however, are fair and don’t adjust up when there’s a white woman in the group, as happens with street vendors in Kenya.
We bought food to feed 20 people lunch for a month, the expected length of the construction time. Beans, rice, sugar, seasonings, onions, tea leaves, plates, spoons, cups, serving dishes and spoons, thermoses, wash basins, and buckets. About $500. Also, the exchange rate in Poktop–no banks there, just guys with money–is 300 SP/$100 instead of 280 in Juba, so we got more for our money.