Too Good to Be True?: Update #18

Published June 13, 2011

What a day. That’s a period, not an exclamation because I’m bone tired. The rains have been torrential the last couple of days turning the roads into skating rinks. Denis and his co-workers were scheduled to come to Jalle Thursday but were delayed a day due to fuel shortages in Juba. They were further delayed by the heavy rains. Since we were also concerned about the journey back to Bor we waited for Denis as long as we could, leaving at around 1:30 this afternoon.

Prior to leaving Jalle, I managed to get one symbolic helical pier in the ground as a demonstration. The video is hilarious on fast forward. Its clear for the first half we have no idea what we’re doing. Only in the last 7 minutes do you see much progress, even in fast-forward. It’s only “symbolic” because: A. It’s not on the school site, rather we planted it in the Grace Chapel compound. B. It was not really installed to – uh – spec. C. We have to take it back out to build the school!

We met Denis coming the other way when we were a half-hour down the road. With a little whining on both Denis’s and my part we convinced Michael to go back to Jalle. Denis is a quick study, and within 20 minutes he comprehended the whole system. The GDC team then continued on to the site to examine the steelwork in detail while we headed back to Bor. In less than 45 minutes the road had gone from passable to nearly impossible with only a light drizzle. Crazy. It took 4 times longer to get back to where we met Denis than it had just taken an hour ago. You quickly learn how to drive slightly sideways – it’s actually easier than driving straight.

The roads continued to worsen and Denis did not make it back to Bor until nearly 8:00. The irony is, he is actually a consultant for the road improvements on this stretch and he had a few choice words about the contractor. Something about, “not the material specified”. Imagine that.

I’ve had the wind knocked out of me quite a few times on this trip, so I’m hesitant to get anyone’s hopes up. Duly warned about all the uncertainties, I’ll tell you what Denis just told me. GDC is committing to starting phase one at any break in the weather between now and November. After seeing first hand how the system works and with some additional time to plan, they think they can get the shell up in less than 10 days – possibly even a week. He’s telling me there is a usually a break in the weather sometime in August and they’ll be ready. Oh, and they won’t charge us anything for the service above what we’ve contracted for.

I’m too tired to jump up and down and I’m tired of disappointments but I am truly grateful for the show of support from Denis and GDC.


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