Saturday, March 21, 2009

What goes right must go wrong

Here's a story to explain why Juba can be awful, great and awful all at the same time. I was a party last night with some friends, a pretty standard Juba affair of lots of people standing around being sweaty and inebriated in various walled compounds while repetitive music plays in the background (think Sigma Nu party with guards). I was not feeling the party love last night and, by 12.45, I'd managed to motivate my two friends to move on home.

We got out to the vehicle and when the driver turned the key all we heard was wahh-wahhh-wahhhhhhh-sputter-click. Over and over and over. The girl and I, being old hands, promptly jumped out got behind the car (a big ole' Land Rover Discovery) and started pushing to get a pop-clutch start. We're pushing away but, lo and behold, no start. A slight issue had appeared which had never occured to me. It was an automatic and you can't push start an automatic. Who the heck has an automatic in Juba?!?!

Curses. So we're now stuck in the middle of the sandy road at 1 am using our Nokia phone flash light to try and see the battery and figure out what the deal is. A very vague acquaintance happened to come out as we were all staring and, bless, him, he spent an hour with us fiddling around with jumper cables and spanners and sparks and all sorts of nonsense. Since, of course, you can't just call AAA (AA for you Commonwealth folk) to come and fix you.

Finally, at 2 am we were all knackered, dusty, sweaty and admitted defeat. But still, how to get home. The three of us live very far out from town and nobody was willing to make that drive at that hour. The acquaintance, bless him, who lived within walking distance of the party, said "Just take my car. Bring it back in the morning." Which is, you must admit, pretty remarkable. I mean, he knew our names but certainly didn't KNOW us. But perfectly happy to loan us his vehicle since we were in a bind.

I'm feelin pretty good about life, at that point, as I drove us back, trying to avoid roundabouts on the tarmac. Except I didn't do a good enough job and we hit the roundabout next to the ministries where we were promptly stopped by two pretty irritated soldiers. In reflective pennies, no less. Stylin.

Cue ten minutes of "Where you go? Passport? Who you? Out! Out!" We got through in the end, of course, and collapsed in bed at 2.30 or so pretty shattered.

Just a night out in Juba.

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