Today we went on a Short Duration Patrol again. Being the driver of the second vehicle, I grabbed the opportunity to take a few snaps of the ride. Well, more than a few - quite a lot in fact. But only to document any troubles we might run into... yeah. However, keeping in mind that ALL road descriptions down here starts with the phrase "take off the hard road", I did get quite a few interesting photos.
My "office" for the next few hours - keep in mind that this is one of our Good Cars, and has seen a lot of use.
How do you know your car has spent time in a hot climate? When the vinyl cover on the dash board is all bubbly!
Out on the local highway - if it hadn't been for the half meter high speed bumps placed along the road, one could easily do at least 60 km/h on this magnificent stretch of dirt road.
Don't get too close to the shoulder - those threes wont yield, even if you got a bigger car than them (right of way seems to be determined primarily by the size of your car - the bigger car wins)
Notice how smoothly the road blends into the undergrowth... or in other words, how the road simply exists because cars drive there.
Someone took the time to clear this patch of land at some point... you see quite a bit of these areas along this road, and you can never tell if it's a abandoned farm (because someone moved or got killed during the war) or a sign of refugees returning and wanting to start farming in the near future.
See that cloud of dust? Somewhere in there is the other car of the patrol... in the dry season you can - I'm told - hardly see anything along this road due to the dust.
The road forks, and we will - off course - take the road less traveled...
(Note the mountain in the background - when we fly the helicopter to Juba we fly between those peeks.)
...which means we take of the soft road onto the non-road. Still, the track looks good so far.
More nature, even closer to the car. What you're missing out on here is the sound of the tall, unyielding grass brushing against the underside of the car.
Still looks good... and I'm sure the other car is ahead of me somewhere. It's not like he could take a wrong turn anywhere.
Nice dry roads also means nice, brown grass. I'm curious to see how green South Sudan is towards the end of the dry season.
Is it just me, or is the track getting fainter?
No, it isn't just me - the track is pretty much hidden in the tall grass, along with every rock and gully. Thanks to the bad suspension I can still feel every last one of them though.
I wonder where this track goes? What's behind the next tree, the next turn?
So it goes here - and stops with little warning. But look! a footpath leads on, and up ahead we can hear voices... so off course we head down the footpath.
So there, out in the middle of nowhere where the track ends, a family lives reasonable happily. They were quite surprised that we came to visit, not even the local government bothers to come all the way to where they live.
I think our language assistant has a photographer in him... the first shot wasn't quite to his liking, so he made a second one - more artsy.
Down this track lies a stream, which is the border to the next municipality. Apparently there was talk a few years back of bridging the stream and make a proper road here.
This is what happens when you walk through subtropical forest and try to snap photos - you slip (but I didn't fall).
Further into the forest... the area was strangely quiet, but then there was about a dozen guys scaring the birds and beasts away.
Yupp, that's a stream alright. Note the lack of bridge, road and traffic - which I got the feeling suited the family living there just fine.
In addition to marking the end of their land, the stream also provide drinking water, water for washing, a bit of fish and mud to build their houses from.
Back on the road again... well, track. Which crosses a dried up riverbed, almost too steep for our vehicles to cross.
Four low and first gear was the only way to climb this bank - the photo don't do it justice.
Dust and grass... it was hard enough to spot the first car, never mind the odd bump in the road.
It's a little hard to see, but behind that tree is the same mountain as in one of the previous photos.
Sometimes you just glance out the window and realize that there is a house there...
Needless to say, we made it back safe and sound, having gone to a spot we hadn't been before. We never made it to the village we were aiming for, since there was no road leading there. But we got the information we were looking for and quite a bit in addition - plus I got to see what life an be like in the bush. All in all a quite nice SDP - sore back and all.