|Brother Felipe invited me to go on walk this morning in order to acquaint me with the city of Juba. I was instructed to meet him in the kitchen for a light breakfast at 5:15 am! (A good bit earlier than my usual rising time! It was good to leave so early, however, because this was the coolest time of the day, the time when walking would be the most pleasant).
I managed to get up on time, and after some coffee and fruit, we set out on a round trip walk of two hours that took us all the way to the magnificent Nile River, which we crossed before turning back and heading home.
The sites and sounds along the way were interesting and eye-opening: Lots and lots of people, some just emerging from very humble structures constructed out of corrugated metal that I assume were probably the only homes they had, women in colorful traditional dress balancing large quantities of bananas or other things on their heads, gentlemen staffing side-walk stands that were selling beverages and food items, as well as other side-walk stands selling all kinds of things.
There were also some roving vendors with clothing items or cases for one’s cell phone or other products. They were moving around the streets hoping to find customers for their wares. Interesting to me were the small three-wheeled taxi cabs all over the city: one wheel in front, two wheels in back. They are built to carry the driver, in front, and just two passengers in back.
There were conventional vehicles of course, much as we would see in any city, but there were far more people walking on the streets and roads.
As we approached the mighty Nile River, there were enormous numbers of people pouring over the narrow walking bridge adjacent to the traffic lane, all of them pouring into Juba. Lots and lots of people, including some of the women I described above, in their colorful costumes and balancing things on their heads. Brother Felipe and I had difficulty getting across the bridge because we, and a small handful of others, were all going against the traffic.
Brother Felipe is a good walker! We got back to the Solidarity House and I was able to get a cool shower and rest and relax a bit.
Father Jim had been away when I arrived, but he had returned on Friday evening and so we began our series of meetings, with him acquainting me with all kinds of history, facts, and details about the Solidarity project. I got a lot of information which will take me some time to fully assimilate and place in context. The meetings with Jim were good, and it feels good for me to be here and to be involved in this project. As the days unfolded, I met a number of other interesting people: Father Christy John, CFM, from Sri Lanka, and Sister Gabrielle, OLA, from Ireland, both based at the Good Shepherd Pastoral Center in Kitt, and Father George, a priest from Uganda who is working with the Church of South Sudan to develop a comprehensive Pastoral Plan for the country.
Nov 10, 2021
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