October 13, 2012

Traveling as a Family through Sudan

The beauty about traveling is that it opens up a new vistas as well as imparting important lessons of life. Once, while traveling as a family through Southern Sudan, such a lesson was powerfully reinforced.

Southern Sudan has had two (not one as is often reported) civil wars: One war between 1955-1972, and the second civil war between 1983-2005. Our journey to the Sudan was to coincide with the birthing of Africa’s latest state  – the Southern Sudan. To celebrate the inception of a new state, a maternal aunt had invited the family to her residence in Khartoum. My clan, not known to overlook the chance of adventure, packed their bags and set out to Africa in Summer time.

The journey from North America to East Africa via Europe took eighteen hours. Our departure from Khartoum was uneventful, adventure galore begun when we were still on the edge of the city. On the highway to Juba( the capital of South Sudan) we as a family begun doubting the capacity of our min van to deliver; the engine of this automobile often sounded like it was in the throes of death, our driver Suleiman however seemed unbothered, and after his assurances we rested easy.

Two hours into our journey, and the ‘beast’, as grandma Toffa had christened it, gave up its ghost. The beast had been negotiating a steep incline when the ears of the vehicle’s occupants were assaulted by the sounds of a sputtering engine, and then suddenly the inside of the van was filled with a black luminous fog. Luck was on the side of the six ladies of the Gibson family though – luck in the sense that the beast had reached the hilt of the cline when this incident occurred, and luck in the sense that there were no other automobiles on the road at this moment in time.

This second point was important based on the fact that when this cloud of smoke filled the cabin of the van, every one jumped out of the vehicle for fear that dear life was imperiled. Apparently an oil gasket had been shattered and our driver Suleiman had to make calls to Khartoum to have a replacement vehicle to rescue the damsels in distress.

In spite of Suleiman being present and thus ensuring that our security was not imperiled, we, the Gibson ladies, were in a foul mood. This contrasted sharply with the beautiful sunshine, and the quietude of the surrounding environment. Instead we were focused on the odd vehicle that from time to time passed us by the side of the road. Well we eventually made it to Juba a day later but the incident got yours truly to ponder over certain truths: How often in life we take badly to ‘setbacks’. It was curious that family that had not been together for awhile couldn’t take this opportunity beside the road to know about each others well being. Instead we each settled on ruminating on our delayed journey. This mirrors the situation in life, instead of meditating during periods when there is static in our life we lose the plot by being sour in our outlook of life, and what poor companions we make. This is but one of the lessons I take from the adventures of traveling as a family.

Post by the Samee Family, Image by Enough Project