When I met Juba it was love at first sight. When I took my first steps on the dusty red dirt roads in this chaotic and exotic capital I immediately got swept off my feet. However different from my previous life it felt like coming home. Our first four months together were intense, like any other love story. New thrilling experiences, new friendships and the red and orange sunrises made my heart jump of joy. I was high on life. That was the honeymoon period on the cultural adaption curve, the first few months when you’re in a new country, when everything is new and exciting.
Sadly enough I’ve realized that the honeymoon period is over and I now see the downside of this country and this kind of life. Good friends have left and moved on to new adventures. South Sudan is running out of money. Colleagues are not getting paid. People are starving. Children are dying. Friends and colleagues keep getting malaria. Homes are getting ruined by heavy rain.
Last week I was sliding down the curve towards a culture shock. I had no idea how to prevent it from happen. For days I thought about things to do to cheer me up and push me up along the curve towards adjustment and adaption. I met with friends. I had some wine. I played the guitar and sang about my favorite things. Nothing helped. The weekend came and I finally found a solution.
On Saturday I went with some colleagues to Gondokoro, an island in the Nile. To get there we took a leaking local boat together with women, children and a motorbike. We walked through corn fields till we got to my colleague’s family’s village. They brought some chairs for us and we sat in the shades for a while and watched children play. A motorboat took us to the other part of the island and on the way we saw a crocodile. It felt like being on vacation on the countryside. We took motorbikes back to the leaking boat and when we were driving fast on the bumpy path under the mango trees I started feeling happy again.
On Sunday I climbed the Jebel for the second time. It was greener this time, with two meter high grass and it was hard to find the path. Snakes love it there, but Juba treated me well and kept them out of my way this time.
This weekend’s adventures gave me all the energy I needed to feel positive again. I guess that it’s like with any relationship, sometimes you just need to spice it up a bit and bring some excitement to it so you remember why you first fell in love. I will try to keep this in mind and I believe that Juba and I will make it together the remaining eight months of my stay.