I was nearly asleep when I heard “Kit, Kit” at the window.
It was our guard “the cargo down”
“The cargo down”
“WHAT??? The cargo down”??
“Yes in water”
“Aaahhhh the boat? The boat go down???”
“Yes, the boat do down”
I jumped up and grabbed my jacket and boots, running to the river. I looked over the fence and sure enough the boat go down! The aluminium 14-footer with our most precious 75hp motor was half full of water and listing precariously sideways, the motor stuck on the bank and the water inside almost at the same level as the river! So in gumboots and raincoat, in the pitch black, pouring rain, the guard and I bailed the boats, him with a bucket and me with a saucepan! After an hour we had emptied both boats and placed every mop broom and stick under the rails of the boat's tarp roof to stop the continuous rain from pooling and flooding the boat. I placed buckets and pots on the floor in the hope that the guard would keep an emptying ritual up through the night or at least until the rains stopped.
I tied a towel around my soaking wet hair and fell into a fitful, disturbing sleep where a herd of baby hippopotamus were swimming down the stairs in an underground parking lot, that was flooding quickly, while I tried to take photos of them before the water got too high or the mothers charged me! Mmmm, that’s one for the psych team I guess!
The next day started out as any other here in Mattar, the team arrived, loaded the boat, unloaded the boat, packed the car, got bogged, got out, got bogged, got out and finally made it to the main road where Mr. Security was waiting. All was fine and we could proceed to Moun. It had stopped raining sometime in the night but with two days consistent rain the place was a boggy mess. We got 10 km from Moun and after plowing sideways for half a kilometre the wheels were so full of clay bog that they couldn’t turn. We all got out, cleared the mud off the tires and started again.
“What next?” I asked the team, this was becoming a joke! Two kilometres up the road the same thing happened so the driver suggested we walk as he drove due to the weight, just until we got past the clay part of the road. OK, so we walked in the mud for a while, then got back in and low and behold we skidded sideways down the embankment nearly into the swollen drain beside the road. We could see Moun about a kilometre up the road. The car was bogged again and after 20 minutes of digging and pushing we got it back on the now very torn up road. We decided to just take the therapeutic food for the malnourished kids. When we arrived at the building where we hold the clinic nothing was set up as nobody thought we would come so we then walked another kilometre to the health post. Now that doesn’t seem far but when every step is treacherously boot sucking, believe me it is! We treated a few kids and took a few back to the car for medications as we didn’t take much with us.
On the way home we stopped to see a donkey. We can hire it for $25 a month! Yippee!!! It will be a great help getting through the mud between health centre and compound and can carry patients that can’t walk! Big bonus for us! Whooohooo a new friend!
That night we were all in bed early again, total exhaustion had made us cranky, snappy or in my case deliriously stupid. I was awoken by the sound of a loud crash and metal scrapping on metal. It was about 11pm. You are fxxxing kidding me!!!! were our reactions as we again met at the fence to see what was going on. Our 20 metre cargo boat had drifted out across the river, and a boat load of people from South Sudan had crashed into it, their cargo boat very similar to ours, actually mounting the stern, leaving them at a 45 degree angle with their bow totally airborne.
No one seemed to be hurt as people started jumping from their boat to ours and making their way to our dock. It was so ridiculous we were hysterical, dancing and slapping at the ferocious bugs that were greedily devouring our exposed limbs, while we cried delirious tears of laughter over the past week’s events. The only rope we could find was a large bunch of knotted ropes, all together and in a big mess. It honestly took the two of us 10 minutes to free enough rope to tie the boat up. All the while the savage insects were literally drawing blood with their stinging, itching bites! It took another 20 minutes to pull in and tie up the boat! It would be sad if it wasn’t so ridiculous! But in three sleeps I am going on break!!! Three sleeps! THREE SLEEPS!!!!!