On January 2, 1983, I arrived in Juba for the third time. This time, Sudan Airways did fly and none of my luggage went astray. I was finally beginning the work that I had spent years training to do.
Khartoum’s weather was cool and dry when I left, but upon arriving in Juba, I found it hot and muggy. The neem trees were in bloom. Everyone was coming down with “colds,” which I suspected were allergic reactions to the significant amounts of pollen floating in the air and lying in thick yellow sheets on the ground. We held our biennial conference, and I met my colleagues who came in from many parts of southern Sudan. We were an interesting multinational bunch.
On January 8, I received my birthday present. You will recall my birthday is in October. Mom and Dad mailed this gift in August to give it plenty of time to arrive. Have I mentioned that mail to Sudan was slow? Anyway, it came as a nice surprise, and I appreciated it all the more because it was late.
Before leaving the U.S., I had inquired about what I should bring to Africa. The answer was, “Whatever makes you feel at home.” Never having lived outside the U.S., I didn’t know what items meant “home” to me. Once I got to Africa, I discovered them, but they were not available. So, parcels became important, as they provided a few of those reminders of home, like chocolate chips and autumn leaves.
Letters to Juba proved to be even slower than to Khartoum. First, they arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, and sat there until someone brought them to Juba. Fortunately, we were not the only organization using this method of delivery, so any personnel traveling to Juba collected all the mail for everyone and brought it. Our group often received several mailbags when the mail finally arrived.
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