Batteries and the Keys to Jalle

Published May 30, 2011

Our night in the Freedom hotel was quite restful. There was a cool breeze that even made me think for a moment that I would use the thin blanket provided with the room. Uh – on second thought, the sheet would do just fine, thank you.

After checking out of Freedom hotel and loading up the ‘Cruiser we’re off to the market to pick up supplies for Jalle….and…click-click-click-click. The unmistakable sound – in any language – of a dead battery. Only in the case of our ride, two dead batteries. Yes, there are two batteries under the hood? And we didn’t happen to be traveling with a 12mmm hex head wrench needed to change the battery.

So, off to the market to buy, not supplies, but a battery and a 12mm hex head wrench. “Battery” and “Landcruiser” translated just fine. As did the amount – $125 USD. But at “wrench”, we hit a stumbling block. “Spanner,” I offered with my best British accent. Nothing. Next, I tried drawing a wrench in the dirt while making the motion with my hand like one would when using a wrench. Nothing. Blank stairs.

James had the very bright idea to go into the small shop to see if he could find a wrench to point at. Sure enough, boxes of wrenches. It wasn’t long after that we were handed the perfect battery wrench. I asked, now with great curiosity, what it was called. A “key”. So without the usual fanfare, we had just been unceremoniously presented with the key to Jalle.

For those that remember the road from Bor to Jalle from trips past, keep the memories, they’re all that’s left. The road was as good or better than the road from Juba to Bor. We traveled the 65 km in just over an hour. The entire distance is pretty well populated. Tukuls, cows, goats, and people everywhere. Central Jalle would look familiar to folks who were here 2 years ago. The mayor’s compound is still here and he has a shiny new residence. The store where we stopped Cokes is still there and the gate/rope/stop sign is still there.

We are staying at the Grace Chapel Church compound in Jalle. William was kind enough to lend us the accomodations. This compound was built to house volunteers from Grace Chapel Church in Tennesse while they are here to build a school church and clinic complex. The complex is still under construction but already used daily by the community. Our room is a simple mud dwelling with a tin roof and a cement-like floor and 4 beds.

We arrived somewhat late due to our earlier technical difficulties and have not yet had a chance to meet with too many community members. Tomorrow, we will head down the road to Rebuild South Sudan’s school site. The latest update on the shipment of the foundation is that it should be on a truck to Sudan in the next couple of days. Everybody cross their fingers, pray if you’re so inclined, send out cosmic brain-rays if your not, and we might just pull this off.


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