On the boat again

Tuesday was another big day at Jikow, Huge crocs some five to six meters long were sunning themselves on the rapidly shrinking beaches, which are quickly being swallowed by the river.

Tuesday was another big day at Jikow, Huge crocs some five to six meters long were sunning themselves on the rapidly shrinking beaches, which are quickly being swallowed by the river. As we came around a bend we could hear singing and came across 20 odd men, in the water, walking/swimming at the base of the red faced cliff with a huge oxen, dead and floating, its white gut ballooning out of the murky, muddy water. Above them and proceeding along the banks for 200 meters was a choir of women and children, singing and clapping, stamping their feet to a rhythmic chant as they blessed their river, their life blood and offered it up with the annual sacrifice.

croc © Kate Chapman

The Jikow clinic was its usual interesting self with one exception. A fellow turned up, a leprosy patient, who had travelled twice to our clinic when we didn’t come. The last time he came we were in Nib Nib and he couldn't walk any further. He was a mess, his eyes were bleeding, his stubs of fingers and hands open and weeping. When he took off his canvas gym boot I was shocked to see only half a pulpy stump of a foot. No toes, just a huge open festering sore. This is one of the problems of not going to the clinics. They walk a long way, twice, and you’re not there so they don’t chance it again and miss out on vital meds. Then by the time they come, they are so far gone it’s terrible and very difficult to treat. He complained that the termites were eating him at night, his feet, his hands, and his eyes that won’t close. The poor man, I feel so guilty.

On the way home we saw a huge croc, the biggest I’ve ever seen. So big I thought it was a fallen tree. A huge fish called a Chelle was floating nearby, I'm not sure if it was a Nile Perch. The boys got excited, as these are “special” fish. Anyway they decided they were going to get this fish as the croc had already bitten its face off. It was a bloody big fish but apparently relatively small for its species. As big as me is a good one! So in view of the croc they stole his fish!!! Bloody hell! Now I’m worried next time he hears the boat coming he will seek revenge! The boys were so happy they cut it up and shared it out. Around 50 pound of fish! Minus the crocs share!

More croc © Kate Chapman

Wednesday was the Adura clinic, a big one with 164 patients. We had a six-month pregnant lady in labor. We were unable to get through on the phone AGAIN to send the boat to pick us up and so had to walk her the kilometre to the health centre in the heat and in labor.

On Thursday we finally went back to Moun and the kids were so happy they sang and danced for us. An old fellow brought me a turtle from what was a grassy field on my last visit; now a huge newly formed swamp spreading as far as the eyes can see. Fish are now a plentiful food source. They told me of the black crocodiles that can stand on their tail, upright and threatening, not allowing the boat to pass. What???? It’s the first I’d heard of crocs here! Our dear doctor once said to me “ do not worry Kit, you will never drown here, the pythons will swallow you before you ever drown.” Thank you Doc!!! VERY REASSURING!

Friday was back to Nyawech. I was busy consulting when “Kiwai, kiwai” was softly called through the tent wall. I ignored it and continued consulting, the little voice then changed to a drawling“ Kit, Kiiiit” yes I replied. “foosball?” came the gentle inquiry. “I’m working!” ten minutes later “Kit, Kiiit” “yes?” “Skippy?” “Later I’m working”! So after 60 odd patients we had a quick skip and kick of the ball. The team participating in both, much to the delight of the beautiful kids.

Saturday we had a farewell for our young Kiwi cobber and a welcoming for her American replacement. Dear Kirsten had a lovely send off with a tribal song/dance by the Nuer, and yes even I had a shoulder shuffling, foot hopping dance with some of the very energetic staff!