Up at 4:30 am for 5:30 loading of the van with ten pieces of luggage from the Mayfield container. At AIM Air I learned they already had 900 kg from Jeti’s purchases on our behalf – food and some building supplies, beds and mattresses – and I had 276 kg with me. The Caravan can carry 1000 kg, and we also had passengers in addition to me: two clinic staff: Lillian, a midwife, and David, a lab technician. Prioritizing: I decided to leave behind the beds and mattresses.They’re heavy and bulky. After referring to my content list. I list the contents for each bag or tote as I pack and indicate priority items. From here it’s the pilot’s decision. We had to leave a container of oil, a bag of potatoes, and a bag of beans to accommodate the luggage for Lillian and David.
Nate is our pilot, a young guy I’ve flown with before. It took a long time for customs to clear all our bags. We finally got off the ground about 8. Now at 9:20, we are arriving in Eldoret, Kenya to refuel. Then on to Juba, the capitol, where we must go through immigration for our Visas.
We were not able to pull up as close to the airport in Juba as in the past, but we arrived when no other larger planes were on the ground, so there was no wait at immigration. We caught a ride to the terminal and back with one of the airport crew, then $100 a pop for a single entry Visa to Republic of South Sudan. No multi-entry visas available.
The Lost Boys Clinic staff had reported to me that the airstrip was flooded on Friday, but they were working to drain it. Part of a dike had given way. Though it is the rainy season, this is about two months early for the type of flooding they are experiencing.
The strip was nice and clear for our landing, and there was a huge crowd to greet us. Our girls in their red uniforms stood together waving. Many people assisted in unloading our heavy cargo. Most of my bags were 50 + pounds, and we also had 50 kg bags of beans, potatoes and other foodstuffs. The bigger problem was how to get it all to our site. Even if there was a working vehicle in the village, which there is not, the roads are flooded ankle to knee deep – impassable by car.
If you saw our girls heft these huge bags on their heads, some of them walking without even a hand held to steady the bag, you wouldn’t believe it. I’ve seen it many times, but it always amazes me. And they can carry these heavy loads a great distance. The walk to our site from the airstrip takes about 20 minutes through the water. I didn’t even have to carry my backpack as it was spirited off my back and onto Akuol’s, one of our ASAH girls.