Our camp was in the Shilluk Kingdom, a region unique in Sudan for having a kind of peace treaty with the warring parties. Having said that there were a couple of times when, standing in our camp, we heard shelling from barges coming down the White Nile about 2Km away from us, the range of the shells was just 1Km thank fully. Thanks to the peace in the area I never witnessed an antonov attack or helicopter gun ships coming in. The antonovs would fly high and circle over a given area then beer barrels of explosives and metal scraps would be kicked out of the back to fall indiscriminately causing devastating harm. In the areas frequently subject to these attacks the first sign of the coming bombs would be the children and animals running for cover – they would be the first to hear the high pitched aircraft engines. I am so grateful that this wasn’t part of my experience, a month after I left however, our security level deteriorated and the team was evacuated by the Sierras.
The camp was simple, made up of ‘mud huts’ – wooden frames with wattle and daub walls and thatch roofs, a mixture of round and rectangular ones. A small round hut was my “room” to start off with, until I was welcomed by a snake in the doorway, devouring a mouse that it had found in my roof. I requested a tent be flown in from Loki, which though stifling in the soaring afternoon temperatures, was snake free due to the rubber ground covering and the absence of mice! Each hut and my tent was supplied with an electric light powered by two solar panels, we were able to run a fan and two computers in the “office”. We even had a fridge that was powered by kerosene.
By December temperatures had risen to the mid forties and were steadily climbing. In the mid day sun chickens would take shelter in the shade of the low reaching thatched roofs, wings spread out and beaks open, panting to keep cool. The silence at that time of day was stunning, not even the insects were able to move in the heat. A few weeks after I left temperatures were to reach 50 degrees C.
To be continued in a few days….