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May 2005
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July 2005

June 2005

40 days

40 days left and a ton of work to do before i go. The best thing about being busy is that time flies. Hopefully, i'll get some paperwork done tomorrow to help the process a bit. I've been corresponding with the consulate in Sydney about some of my questions regarding household items. I want to make sure i didn't violate any laws regarding illegal transportation of personal effects. Like where does the law stand on shipping a 300 pound jello sculpture of Jet Jaguar? With or without cocktail fruit?

I discovered a flat tire on my car today. Well I didn't but someone that saw my car did. It's the third flat I've had this year. When I retire, I'm coming back to Khartoum to open a tire repair shop. Visions of being the "Gates" of the patch industry come to mind.

Now my time is drawing to a close, i've seen an increase in the local staff pursuing several requests. I can't blame them, since it must be hard to see someone go after a year after they've helped us get use to how things are done as soon as we arrive. One of my staff met with me today to briefly talk about a small work problem and also to bring up another job he's considering. It would require him to move to Nairobi. Looking over the job description, I knew he would be underqualified for it. But he was mostly concerned about the increase in salary. I couldn't blame him. We do provide very well for our employees, much more so than the local economy can provide. But there are others that provide more than we do. It's the same in most foreign hardship posts. I gave him my thoughts on it and expressed our desire to make sure he was happy with his job. The problem is, he been with us for so long there's no where else for him to go. With a cap on his grade and title, we can't do too much more. I offered to review his job description before I leave to include some of the changes he's had to undertake in the last year. I know when I first arrived, the previous boss had made a few promises about training and the jobs for local staff. Unfortunately, it was dropped on my desk when I took over. But I picked up the pieces and confirmed what was promised with other American staff. During the year, I've setup off site training for several of the staff, re-evaluated job descriptions and even went through an interview process to hire more staff. Not something I had been directly assigned to do, but fortunately my previous experience in the private sector was put to use. It's never ending, I don't mind doing it but I hate when others promise something and never follow through.

looking back

Sorry for the slow down in post, but there hasn't been much to report on. I'm still busy getting my paperwork done for my transfer. Work is going well and I'm getting some things organized for my replacement. Hopefully, everything will go well and he'll get here by the end of July. (You are coming right, Gene?) I know when i first arrived last year in August. I was caught in the middle of new staff coming and old staff leaving. I spent the first week just trying to remember everyone's name and what I was going to be responsible for. Looking back after one year, I now know what everyone was talking about when they tried explaining how it felt to come to another country and become overloaded with sensory input. Every once in awhile, I'll remember something i saw or drank or smelled the first few weeks I was here. Now when i see that particular drink or billboard, I half smile and remember the strange feeling of what it was first like to come to Khartoum. I can't explain it but once you get use to it it's hard to remember how crazy and new everything was. I really hope that happens everytime I travel to a new post. It makes you feel like you discovered a new piece of the world. Not only will you get to see it but you'll immerse yourself in it for years. That can be a frightening thought to some. But others, that have a taste for being a vagabond, know the feeling.

One example I recall all the time, is a guava juice i drank the first night I was in my new home. I was met at the airport by some coworkers from the Embassy and driven to where I would live. After visiting and getting a tour of my house, i was left to unpack and spend my first night in the new city. My sponsor had left a few groceries for me so I wouldn't have to worry for a couple days about going to any markets. I took out a liter bottle of brownish yellow guava juice and poured a glass. Not use to the thickness of it, i took a sip. I felt like I was drinking pure pulp. But it tasted good, i just wasn't use to it. Now I've learned I like all the juices (mango, guava, carrot) especially, if I cut it a bit with some water and ice.

I've finally gotten use to roadblocks at night. And I know which streets are closed after 9:00pm. There's still a few things I have on my list to do and see. But with a little luck and planning I'll get that done. July is going to be jammed with last minute things but I optimistic that it will all go well.

nothing new to report

Today was the first free day I've had since coming back to Khartoum. Every other day I've been catching up at work and making preparations for the next tour. Now that I have a day off, I'm spending it getting some things done at home and enjoying the newly opened pool in our compound. The weather's been blowing sandstorms up about once a week, so it makes for some interesting colors during the day. I still find it odd to look out a window and only see a few hundred feet in any direction. There is usually an orange or yellowish brown color to everything. Yesterday was one of the many times this has happened over the course of May. By 7:00pm everything started to clear up and go back to the heatwave I've been accustomied too. My apologies for not updating the site. I hope to work on some of the pictures I've taken over the last month or so. It seems like I just got back and it's already a 1/3 of the way into June. Already starting to feel a bit meloncoly about moving away and leaving some of the friends behind that I have made here.

A dvd i ordered arrived last week and i highly recommend it. Lost Boys of Sudan. It chronicles the lives of two Sudanese boys that traveled to the United States during the civil war of Sudan in the late 90's. The dvd spends a year revisiting the boys to see how they are adjusting to their different lives in the US. There were several comparisions that I've noticed living here myself and I learned what foreigners often mistakenly think about what life will be like living in America. I suggest picking it up if you are a fan of real life documentaries or if you would like to learn more about Lost Boys and how they came to America.


Surprise day trip to Cairo -the pyramids and me

haboob sends me to cairo

So after 27 hours of traveling, when I tried to land in Khartoum last Sunday, we were told a sandstorm was going on.  As we got withing 50 miles of the capital, the pilot came over the intercom and said due to visibility and the rain storms we would be returning to Cairo to land.  I figured we would either wait for another airline to take us early in the morning or they would put us up in a hotel.  There wasn't much I could do at that point but watch another movie and ask for a refill on my drink.

We arrived in Cairo, and fortunately, the airline had decided it would be best to put us up for the night in a hotel.  The airline, Lufthansa, was great about making the arrangements.  They reserved some rooms at the Sheraton Hotel for the 50 or so passengers.  The hardest part of the whole night was taking all our baggage from the claim area to a buses that we all scrambled to get on.  We moved in packs and by the time we reached the hotel it 2:30am.  We checked in and called it a night. I awoke in the morning and had breakfast with a coworker that had been on the same flight.  We decided we would have time to take a trip out to the pyramids so spent the day with our guide and a car.  The trip was worth it and the weather wasn't too hot.  I'll post some shots of what photos I took in the next day or so.

Well, by the end of the day, we were herded back into buses and back to the airport.  It took a bit of time to check our baggage but I have to compliment the airline and the hotel for making it all run smoothly.  I was on the flight after our 24 hour delay and heading back home.