'Seating issue', my ticket flashed up as it was scanned at the gate in Nairobi. Cue fears of overbooking, being stranded in Nairobi or being dragged screaming off the plane for protesting injustice (agh...wrong country).
Turns out I was being upgraded to business class for the Juba flight, complete with menu card, linen napkin and fresh orange juice as we taxied that I daintily sipped from a sherry glass. First time this has ever happened to me as I've given up thinking that trying to garner sympathy over a fake ailing grandmother is ever going to win over the check-in staff.
Much confusion on arrival in Juba (which is nothing new). A red carpet was rolled out and there were rumours of the quiet older man on the first row being the President Salva Kiir who had travelled this way to avoid fuss. I didn't think the passenger looked like him as he was clean shaven and not wearing a hat as normal but the entourage of South Sudanese in smart suits hinted at some truth to the hearsay. Subsequent internet searches have been inconclusive.
The delay to disembark could have contributed to heightened Juba 'arrival hall' (giving it too much credit) chaos, which was more chaotic than normal. Herds of volunteer baggage handlers on the hunt for tips block any chance of being able to access your own baggage and I had a stand-off (which I won) with a customs official who was demanding 'import tax' for the quantity of rucksacks we had bought in Nairobi. He wanted twenty dollars but couldn't point me towards any official rules on this. I showed various papers and explained that the equipment is destined for a project with the government and that it wouldn't be reasonable to tax me, at which point his mate became bored by my stubbornness and waved me through.
It was a fun reunion with Poni, who is as boisterous as ever. A tenant is moving into the other house on the compound, which is owned by Philip, whose place we stayed at last night in Nairobi. I am not sure he bargained for this large number of filing cabinets and related office crud to appear on his veranda, or shipping containers behind the bushes.