Everything posted here is stricktly the opinion of the poster and shall not be taken to be the official position of UNMIS, UNMISS, UN, the Norwegian Armed Forces or any other organisation whatsoever.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Eid Mubarak!

Or, for those less well versed in Arabic; Happy Eid ul-Fitr!

Ramadan is over, and such a thing must be celebrated. So we, along with everyone else in the Team Site, was invited down to BanBat to share a meal. As always, their food is simply wonderful; just spicy enough to make your tongue tingle, yet not so strong it overshadows the subtle flavors. BanBat in Yei has some very, very good cooks.

Other than that, the resident Canadian and I made waffles for lunch. In other words, not much to report on.

Monday 29 August 2011

I could never get the hang of Mondays...

It's been an oddly disjointed day today. Keeping busy, but no red thread to keep things connected.

While things are still not properly organised in Juba, we gotten several jury rigged solutions in place; enough to let us send the daily reports and deal with Leave Requests and the like. The Acting Senior MLO seems to be up at all hours, to judge from the varied time stamps on the emails I get from him. Another few weeks and it should all be working smoothly - by which time I won't be here no more

Today was also the day we sent two of my MLOs to Bor in Jonglei State to help conduct Air Patrols. In short, they get to go to a different Team Site, take part in daily air patrols for two weeks and draw 30USD extra per day for their trouble... If it hadn't been so close to my End of Mission I would have volunteered myself.

I've noted that my eating habits have changed. It used to be that I had bread for breakfast, bread for lunch and then made dinner around dinnertime (1700 - 1800). Now I have a bit of bread for breakfast, make dinner for lunch and then have a snack in the evening... it actually works quite well, but it's not a schedule I can keep up after I get home and starts working; two hour lunch breaks would be frowned upon.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Rainy Sunday

Sundays can be slow in Yei, and even more so when it's gray and rainy all day. To cheer myself up a bit I made "fancy" dinner - fried up some of the little sausages I bought in the Indian store, sliced some of the little breads in two, toasted the bread in the fat left over from the sausages and made little sausage burgers:

Saturday 27 August 2011

Shooting the shit

Yet one of those slow, yet busy days.

Todays big issue was sending two of my MLOs to Bor for a two week temporary assignment - luckily for me the two fellows I wanted to send (because they are trustworthy and reliable) were more than happy to go; the lure of seeing a different part of South Sudan was too strong to resist.

The downside off course is that this leaves us with just enough people in the Team Site to conduct Town Patrols... even if I think we will manage to slip in a Welfare Patrol to Juba a few days before my Norwegian friend and I are to leave Yei to go to Check Out.

Later in the evening my Norwegian friend and I was hanging out down at the Blue with the resident Canadian, shooting the shit and in general having a good time. It's really nice to have some "neutral territory" like the Blue to hang out at; while we can (and do) visit each other for coffee and a chat it is subtly different to have a place which is no-ones home turf.

Friday 26 August 2011

BBQ night!

One thing I really like about the others who lives in the MSA camp here in Yei is that it's never hard to go from a vague idea to full tilt action. More or less out of the blue we decided around the time the helicopter arrived this morning that tonight was going to be barbecue night. Just because today was Friday, and that's all the excuse you need for doing something like that.
 Making fire - fire good.
 What else is there to do while waiting for the coals to get ready than to have a beer?
 Tiny little Indian beef sausages... one of the few meats I'll buy down here that is not alive when I bring it home.
 Getting in line for chow...
 Sausages, chilli, breads, mac n cheese, mustard, catchup, salad and more... a veritable feast!
And yet, with all that food, AC was mostly well behaved and didn't try to beg or steal.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

One of those days

It has been one of those days again - slow, yet busy. This morning we found an email in our inboxes, stating that the UNMO cell would be shut down - right now!

The rest of the day was spent trying to find out just who we are supposed to send our reports to from now on, in addition to making an updated Leave Plan for the next couple of months. Still not sure who to send it too - I might try to send it straight to the CMPO tomorrow.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Cats of Yei

Slow day today, with just three of us left in the Team Site - the four others went for a Welfare Tour to Juba.

Naturally, it wasn't just we who had a slow day:
 AC, doing her very best impression of a dead cat.
 One of the other cats - this one is one of the very few AC will hang out with.
Normally a very shy fellow, s/he was too lazy to run away today.

Monday 22 August 2011

Welcome to the UN

Before my eminent G1 was redeployed to UNAMID (aka Dafur), he had put the finishing touches on the leave plan for September and October. That's why I liked him as my G1 - very efficient and able to plan ahead.

Today? Well, someone at FHQ decided to change the percentage of MLOs permitted to be on leave at any given time... so I have to redo everything. Oh what great fun we have in the UN, doing everything at least twice.

To top it up we discovered that our large diesel storage tank have been contaminated with large amounts of water (probably because someone in Juba left the inspection manhole on the fuel bowser open during rain), so right now we're restricted to the fuel we have in our vehicles. Good thing we carry jerrycans around with us all the time.

So yes, I am a little frustrated with the UN right now. Still loving Yei though!

Sunday 21 August 2011

Sunday morning

I'm still getting used to being down here again - yesterday was a reasonable slow day, with the evening spent down at the Blue with some of my friends barbecuing chicken and drinking imported beer.

Today I should think about going shopping for some essentials, but i'll try to limit what I get somewhat. Now that there is less than a month left of my time in South Sudan, I should concentrate on eating up what I got and not on filling my larders.

Nothing much have changed in the Team Site, yet people are a lot more on the ball now that we've started doing patrols again. It does help to have some new faces too off course, the two MLOs we gotten from Malaysia are both competent officers with lots of smiles to share.

It is, I think, time to take a walk around camp.

Friday 19 August 2011

Back in Yei for the last time

Home away from home... that is what Yei has become over the last ten and a half month. And now I have just under a month left before my End of Mission, so it is kind of bitter-sweet to be back here after my last leave.

Nothing much have changed in the Team Site. A few familiar faces have left us - I meet with one of my team in Juba as I was getting ready to board, and one other on the helipad as I got of the flight as he was getting on - but also two new faces. Patrols have started again, and until we have a clear mandate from up high we're conducting them as we did before 9th July. We expect to have enough information to start changing the patrols around the same time as I leave Yei to go to check-out...

Other than that, no news of note. The flight from Juba to Yei was presumable uneventful - I say presumable since I was nodding off most of the way.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Once more in Juba

The flights were... okay. Not great, but not horrible by any stretch of the imagination. Mostly they were just boring...
First leg from Oslo to Frankfurt introduced me to the worlds laziest sandwich as the airline food: A miniature sub with margarine on, served with coffee, tea or softdrink of your choice. Small wonder I hit McDonalds at the airport to get something a bit more substantial in my belly before the next leg of the journey...
Frankfurt to Adis Ababa was a code share flight, so instead of Lufthansa I got to fly with Ethiopian Air. The upside of that is that since their planes are slightly older, they have the older style seating - which is a lot more comfortable when you turn a row of three into a makeshift bed. I got several hours of decent sleep out of that without getting a kink in my neck. Most enjoyable - even if I missed out on the onboard breakfast.
That turned out to be a very minor issue though - along with two fellow officers (one German, one from New Zealand) I had some pizza in the terminal while waiting for the turboprop to take us the last leg to Juba.
That last leg was uneventful until arrival... for some reason my bag was put aside for extra inspection, something which lasted until I mentioned that I was with the UN. At that point any interest in  my bag disappeared like the morning dew, and I could go out and meet with the AdmOff who drove me back to the Norwegian House where a bed was waiting.
The Norwegian House still isn't fully operational, for instance the kitchen is still not up to spec. So dinner today will - I'm informed - be Thai food at a good restaurant. And then I will go to bed and sleep like a log...

Friday 12 August 2011

Photos of the New Norwegian House

I've been a little slow updating my blog the last few days - but then again, I've been very busy being on leave!

As I was transferring files from my camera to the network storage on our home network, I came across the photos I snapped of the new Norwegian House in Juba. As mentioned, the term "house" is now a misnomer; it is actually a nice little compound. It contains a guard hut, a utility building, two accommodation buildings and the main building with offices, living room and kitchen.
 Bedrooms will now be one occupant only - unless you drag in collapsible field beds. Next to the bed, just out of the shot, is a small fridge and a wardrobe.
 Each room also features a proper desk and office chair, and as far as I understood a TV hooked up to the basic cable for those late night shows - also known as "can't get to sleep nights".
 In addition each room has it's own attached bath - no more queuing up in line first thing in the morning.
 A view from the middle of the compound. From the left: Guard hut. laundry room, two storage rooms, sheets drying, the car of the cable installer and the end of one of the accommodation buildings.
 The front of the main building. Living room windows on the left.
 From the left: Accommodation building, the back gate, the second accommodation building and the main building. The plastic chair under the tree is where the guard sits when it's too warm in his little hut.
 A better view of the accommodations. The opposite side is identical, giving a total of 14 rooms on the compound. One is set aside for exercise machinery and a second is the room where the cleaning crew can relax as well as store linens. So a total of 12 Norwegians can stay in the compound at any given time, which should be plenty of space.
 The living room. A little sparse so far, but considering the compound is barely finished that's to be expected.
 Another view of the living room. The kitchen can be seen through the opening in the wall - allowing whoever is doing the cooking to watch TV at the same time.
 The kitchen. Like the rest of the compound not quite finished when I visited. I'm quite curious to see what changes there are when I swing by on my return to Yei.
The stove was put in just hours before I snapped this photo... maybe when I come back it'll be plugged in so it works?

Saturday 6 August 2011


The nice thing about being on leave is that I can use my desktop, which is a fair bit better than my laptop at making panoramas. I had to reduce these in size quite a bit to upload, but they are still plenty big enough to see though - click to make big:
 Inside the helicopter, going on Air Patrol to Kajo Keji.
 The view from halfway up Kendi Hill
 Halfway random forest in South Sudan.
Taking a break along the road to Lainya.
 Our TOB in Lainya - the narrow view.
 The not so narrow view of our TOB in Lainya.
The view from outside the County Commissioners Office in Lainya.

Friday 5 August 2011

It is good to be home

I arrived home around lunchtime yesterday, and boy is it good to be home!
Yesterday was filled with unpacking and unwinding... it was a long trip home with almost 22 hours since I arrived at Juba Airport until I walked in the door back home. Well worth it though - it is really nice to see my family after three months away from them.
Future plans for my leave isn't much, apart from enjoying the two weeks I get to spend at home.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Almost home

The bags are packed, ticket and passport in my pocket and al I have left to do is wait. In a few hours time I'll be in Addis Ababa for the first time in my life, and just before midnight local time I'll be airborne and heading for Frakfurt. I'll arrive in Germany right around the crack of dawn, so it'll be nice to have almost two and a half hour there to grab some real food (the breakfast they servein the air don't count) and maybe do a little window shopping - one of my nepaese friends made a request on behalf of his son that I would like to honour>

The fight onward from Frankfurt to Oslo should only take two hours, which means that even taking into consideration the drive from the airport I wi be home around lunchtime. I must admit that I look forward to being home again... it's been about three months.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Quiet time in Juba

It has been a quiet day in Juba. The paperwork I was waiting for dumped into my in-box shortly after I got up, so I didn't have to go the UN camp to find it. With the day free, I ended up being the Acting Admin Officer's Assistant; in other words I helped keeping an eye on the local contractors installing the access points and the basic cable.

Later I went out with the acting AdmOff to procure various items... like a dozen lawn chairs and other outdoor furniture, as well as three Jerry cans worth of diesel for the generator. Later today we'll likely head out for dinner - yesterday I had a Chicago Beef, so I'm not sure what I'll have today. Depends where we're going I guess.

Tomorrow I'm out of here. I can hardly wait!

Monday 1 August 2011

New Norwegian House

The term "Norwegian House" has become somewhat of a misnomer... It's more of a "Norwegian Compound". Four major buildings in a large and fairly new compound, complete with armed guards and concertina wire along the top of the outer wall. The biggest building contains the offices, kitchen and livingroom, with a second small living room if people can't agree on what to watch on the TV. There is two smaller buildings with 8 and 6 bedrooms respectively;  eah with an attached bathroom. Lastly there is the utility building which have a laundry room, storage room and the technical room.
It is still a state of "just moved in" down here, but I've gotten one of the furnished rooms to use while I'm here.

Tomorrow I will take some photos and see if I can't get them online - in addition to getting back to the UN compound and get some more face time in with various people. If I have to spend a day in Juba, at least I can try to be marginally productive about it.

Sooo ready to go on leave

How excited am I about going home? Excited enough to wake up at four in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep apparently. Which would be less bad if I hadn't gone to bed sometime after midnight... oh well, I can sleep in Juba.

The helicopter should be here in a couple of hours... enough time for me to drink some coffee and hang around the office while making double extra sure I haven't forgotten anything important.