"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi", quoth Pliny the Elder. There is some debate about what he really meant, but most likely he meant trouble. In this sense has the phrase been used most often since but I hope to reverse the trend and on these pages bring you the exciting, novel and curious out of Africa.

And wherever I am I hope to remain,
Ex Africa Semper Yours,

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Journey Continues

Why, it's been a while since I've last written. Lay it down at my laziness, although there were a couple of other factors involved, like trying to finally settle somewhere more permanent. But it's now or never for this story and now is as good as time as ever.

From the Sands of  the North....
The next chapters that you are about to read are all about a journey I finished almost exactly a year ago. The aim of the journey was to travel from Cairo to Juba, across what was then still united Sudan. I was probably the last person to do this trip while the country was still one. I was also probably one of the few Western women to ever venture alone on this particular route in an attempt to cross one of Africa's least traveled regions.

The journey took a month. I rushed through Egypt, possibly foolishly given its recent turbulent history and revolutionary changes, but I had my eyes on a more exciting story. I crossed the northern Sudan (what is now just Sudan) - something I had really wanted to do after hearing nothing but bad things about it from Southern Sudanese and foreigners alike. I then got arrested in Nuba Mountains, just as they were going to erupt into the bloody conflict that lasts to this day. This arrest and my subsequent speedy abandonment of the region probably saved my life and limb - the dubious thrill of this adventure convinced me to take a UN chopper south instead of taking the Darfur road (my only other option), which - unbeknownst to me at the time - would have taken me straight through to rebel controlled road blocks.

....to the SPLA in the South
Instead I was delivered safely to Wau, far in the north-west of southern Sudan. Journey from there revealed to me the full extent of the wisdom of those who cautioned against travelling in South Sudan's tropical jungles during the rainy season. But neither mozzies, mud nor malaise could stop one who is aided and abeted by the jolly men of Sudan People's Liberation Army - as I was at times when trying to hitch-hike in (or rather out of) this post-conflict area. 

It took 3 days of soaking and washing to get the red mud out off my rucksack and trousers by the time I reached Juba, the South's capital and pride. Here my journey ended, but the journey of the country only just began. I got there in time to witness the historic moment of South Sudan's indpepenence, I was there when a new country was born. The joys and tribulations of these two journeys is something I'd like to now share with you in the following posts. 

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