On February 1st 1981 I was near Rumbek. I was some miles to the east near the bridge over the Bar Na'am, the main river in the area. I sat for a long time on the bank of the river enjoying the view, as this was the first opportunity for a few weeks to at least sit higher than somewhere else and look down on things. Rumbek is a seriously flat place. I wrote this in my notebook:
|The Bar Na'am near Rumbek: My picture|
It's hot, almost midday. I've cycled from Begjui, where the archaeologists' camp is, and I'll be thirsty when I get back to Rumbek. It's fairly peaceful here on the bank of the river with a wind blowing and the hot sun on my forehead. A herd of cattle is opposite, some fine song-bulls, with yellow wagtails cheeping among them. Between them and me trickles the muddy river; a skinny naked youth washes the ash from his body with a tin can. Behind I can hear goats bleat and cranes crying. A little cattle camp shelter by a nearly bare tree, with a flag and a few men sitting with goats.
Such a contrast to the forest where I was this morning, looking at the ground hornbills. I cannot sit in the sun too long.
On the previous afternoon, a Saturday and so no teaching, Jeremy of the archaeologists had come round to ask me out to their camp, at Begjui to the east of Rumbek, to help them eat a sheep which had been given them by a local chief called Chut. I borrowed Andy's bike and put it in their Land-Rover and grabbed my sleeping-bag. In the event the occasion did not work out, as two of the party were ill and the camp was very subdued. I went to bed quite early as did everyone else and then Jeremy left early in the morning. I went for a dawn walk and enjoyed the monkeys and the small mammals of the forest, which I could not see closer to Rumbek. Then I cycled out further east along the road as far as the river, which is probably about 20 miles from Rumbek. The road however was too much for the bike as the rear brake failed and finally a valve went. After sitting at the river, I pushed the bike back a mile or so towards Rumbek. Finally a truck passed, the first vehicle I had seen, and I hailed it. I had a miserable bruising ride back to town, as the truck had little cargo but a huge number of passengers and I had to support the bike all the way.
|The Road I Cycled: My picture|
|At The Bar Na'am: My picture|