Murphy's Law in Sudan

Everybody knows Murphy’s Laws, but nobody imagines how applicable they are in South Sudan. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong and in the most unlikely way with the worst possible consequences.

Here you are in the bush. Finally, your one week holiday has arrived and you can go back home to see your family. You get into the car and after a little difficulty you manage to insert the worn-out key. The engine is running, but the car is not moving. Gee, a flat tyre. And of course, the spare is flat as well! You control your murderous instincts and get into a second vehicle.

It is raining. No, it is pouring. The road is very muddy and slippery. The pickup slides all over the road. You get out of the car to engage the axle lock on the front wheels. After ten minutes, you are soaked, but you can’t get the lock engaged.You have not given up hope yet, so you engage the 4-wheel drive, and drive the best you can. The worst that can happen is that you end up in a ditch. You can’t give up. You really want to get out of that place. You keep driving at 10 mph.

You finally get to the airstrip, step into the sheltered area and wait. The sky is dark and heavy. Rain pours down. The plane is late and you swear. The airstrip looks wet but “landable” to you… Or maybe you’re just being optimistic. You wait, until you hear the pilot’s crackling voice on the HF radio, announcing the approach from the plane. You look up at the sky and start believing again that a God does really exists. After a couple of unsuccessful landing attempts, the plane turns around and disappears at the horizon. “Airstrip unlandable”, says the pilot over the radio…..

You are depressed, exhausted. You sit down on an empty fuel barrel and think of quitting this job once and for all. Then you think of the people you are helping…and your mortgage. All of a sudden, you come up with a brilliant idea: There is a road that can take you to the next airstrip. If the weather is not too bad you can still make it. It is only 5 hours’ drive. The road though is on security level-4 and requires a military escort, but not all is lost. It is Friday and halfway, there is a scheduled convoy that you can join.

You start driving and keep wondering whether you are still sane to travel in these weather conditions on a security level-4 road, but you drive on. Two more hours later, you finally reach the convoy meeting point. The convoy should be there by noon. You wait and wait. The convoy is not there. Still, you are hopeful…. Three hours later you are told the convoy has been cancelled. The next one will be on Monday!

You drive back for three hours. Get into your tent and sit on your bed, with the rain gushing down on the canvas. Everything is damp. You feel miserable and hope for a better day. One without Murphy following you around.

Short story and picture by Enrico Pausilli
Edited by “E” and Peter Casier

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