Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Road to Wau, part 2

Public transport to Wau again. I re-iterate that I like public transport in South Sudan, I could fly, but I don’t enjoy it as much. Having said that yesterday’s journey had some highlights that made me wish I was safely strapped into a UN/WFP plane.

We went to the bus stop in Rumbek early, too early it turned out, no one was there. The two friends I was with did some negotiation on my behalf to get me (1) in a good seat, (2) in a good car  and (3) with a driver they trust (i.e. someone they know). Unfortunately this was not the first car going and meant a 4 hour wait for the car to fill up with passengers.

The other passengers were a woman who was returning from accompanying her mother to Rumbek and 2 young men going to visit family in Wau. We were short of passengers for what seemed like forever. Just as I was beginning to give up hope that we would ever leave, our party was made up by 2 armed policemen, one of whom had been shot in the arm in Rumbek North they day before (its not in the news yet, but the clashed in Tonj East have spread to Rumbek North). He was going home to Wau where his family would take care of him.

The injured policeman was drinking local alcohol. Under the circumstances (having been shot with apparently given no more medical treatment than a bandage) this seemed understandable, and perhaps the most reasonable thing to be doing. However, sitting in a car with drunk armed men is never a good feeling. And it did mean an extended stop at every police checkpoint while they explained to their colleagues what had happened

Then somewhere between Cuiebet and Tonj something underneath the car fell off. (Things going wrong with cars on these dirt roads is quite common). The drivers had whatever kit they needed to patch up the problem (i.e. tie whatever had fallen off back on) and we continued to Tonj.

In Tonj we stopped for an inordinately long period of time for food and sisha. The bus stops in Tonj at a little eatery where street boys and others come and try and get a few pounds of travellers and eat their left over lunch.

We listened to music and everyone sang along, there was a particularly energetic performance to Beyonce’s ‘I Need a Soldier”. Sugar cane was passed round and lots of chatting

A few hours later we reached Wau…dropped the policeman with a bullet wound with some relatives and then I was dropped at my ‘home’ for the next few days. The driver and his friend asked if they could meet me later. I gave them a polite but emphatic, ‘no’ and went to wash the dust off myself.