Tuesday 19 June 2012: Red Earth
We made it to the MAF flight to try to board with all of our luggage. I was traveling heavy with all my camera gear (53kg to be precise). I assumed EJ had communicated with MAF to tell them I had excess baggage since that was the plan with my gear. She had not. So... I had to pay $85 US to board with all my gear. Awesome.
We also drew the short straw in terms of flight time. Our plane left at 8am. We would arrive in Kajo-Keji around 2:30pm because of all the stops we had to make even though the flight time was ~2 hours. We had to stop at Arua, on the Ugandan side of the border to exit the country. Then we stopped an hour later at Yambio, South Sudan to drop off a passenger and pick up another passenger. At that point, someone (John Jamal Umbigo) came up to me and asked me to come with him. Uh oh. Turns out they had changed procedures recently and we did not have our South Sudan visas. Therefore, we had to fill out a 4 page detailed application to get our visas. Oh, the application is free, they told us. Free! But the visa was $100 US dollars. "You pay now," Andrew said. He was formerly with the SPLA. Norma tried to explain to them that we go to Jole to get our visas, but he was having none of that. "No, you pay now, you get visas now." I am fairly certain neither John Jamal Umbigo or Andrew could read. I'm not saying the information I put on my South Sudan visa application was false (it was not), but it certainly was not detailed. (Example: Permanent residence address: "Texas, USA".) And no, I am most definitely NOT giving you my contact number, mobile number, email address, social security number, bank account, or credit card numbers.
From Yambio, we flew to another small airstrip in another village to drop off some letters/mail. I decided to stop getting off the plane with each stop since I didn't want to have to show my passport to anyone else and risk having to pay more money.
When we finally arrived in KK, we were so worn out from traveling. I was exhausted, hot, and hungry (hangry, more like it).
The compound at KK had a recent upgrade - 24 hours electricity. I could sleep with a fan on ALL NIGHT LONG. Heaven. We also have the only sit down toilets in the area. And showers with hot water (sometimes). And internet.. (less frequent than the hot showers bit).
Took a walk as the sun was setting. This is my favorite time of day here. The sun sets everything on fire with a golden light. Africa is so beautiful. I am happy to be here.