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Journal Entry:

Monday, November 11, 2013 06:22:48

BLACK SEA, SUDANS, ETHIOPIA 2013: 10 Khartoum, Sudan to Juba, South Sudan

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I phoned Ahmed to conclude our financial business just after 7 AM - I had emailed him at 1:30 AM and he had already read my email. Because US $100 bills before 2006 cannot be used I was short of cash. Ahmed gave me back 4 $100 bills that the bank wouldn't accept, and my office wired $1,000 to his Egyptian bank account. He gave me the extra $600 in newer US bills as this pre-006 business left me short.

Elhadi was to do the airport pickup at 8:15, but when I phoned at 8:30 he was still picking up money for me. It is said it is necessary to be at the airport 3 hours before the flight, but that was unnecessary as passengers wait outside the entrance to the airport building until check in opens for that flight about an hour before it leaves.

Inside are a numbered line of check in counters, but no airline names. There is no departure board, or information of any kind and announcements are only in Arabic. Lines of people were at various check in spots, where some had small signs with airline names. Eventually I was sent to the line that was for Ethiopian. The plane didn't board until 12:15 instead of departing at 11:45 as scheduled, and the time between flights in Addis Ababa is only 45 minutes it would appear I'm not getting to Juba today!

Seating was very tight in the DH8 aircraft, but I'd better get used to it as I have 10 scheduled flights on this type of aircraft before leaving for home. Due to the small overhead bins it was necessary to check my carry on, but there was no charge for it. Once in Addis Ababa everyone was very courteous, and the attendant at the window promptly issued a voucher for transportation, hotel, meals, long distance phone calls and a boarding pass for the 10 AM flight in the morning.

It seemed better to collect baggage than to leave it in the airport overnight, I've previously lost belongings by leaving baggage in the airport overnight, so a helpful lady found my case in the luggage destined for Juba. By the time this was done the bus for the hotel I had booked had left, so the fellow in charge of getting people onto buses changed it from the Nexus Hotel to the Friendship Hotel. It was over an hour before the bus finally arrived for the 10 minute ride to the hotel.

The hotel looked very deluxe, and the room had both a jacuzzi tub with lots of jets and the separate shower also had jets up and down the walls along with a complicated control panel. That is where the African factor kicked in. There was no shampoo, the plumbing leaked, the sink had only scalding hot water (no cold at all) and no air conditioning. It was not a comfortable night in the hot room.

In the morning someone showed up at the door to say the shuttle was leaving half an hour early. Breakfast had been a real low point, so fortunately I was back at the room earlier than planned. In the scramble to leave I left behind the pills I must take daily to keep my stomach acid in line.

On the plane to Juba were a large group of Chinese, that I thought might be a tourist group, but it turned out they were there to work in the oil fields. It seems the Chinese struck again in their ongoing efforts to tie down most of the world's natural resources. After suffering through the tight seating once again I finally managed to arrive in the last country I've not been to, South Sudan.