Worst Dressed Man in Sudan: #14

Published June 7, 2011

There’s no doubt I stick out like a sore thumb here and I’m feeling a little self conscience about it. No, not the color of my skin, but the state of my wardrobe. Everyone here is impeccably groomed and I’m – uh – not. I’ve been wearing the same dirty jeans and shirt for several days now. My laundry can now join the official list of things delayed due to the onset of the rainy season. Oh, but if only clean clothes would do the trick. I didn’t happen to pack a suit and even if I did the only one I own is 15 years old. The most prominent vendors in downtown Juba are selling men’s dress shoes, shirts and jackets – maybe I should go shopping.

I’m discovering on this trip that I’m not all that adventurous. “What?” you ask. “You’re in South Sudan trying to build a school in the middle of nowhere,” you say. “You’ve done things that most others never have the opportunity to do,” you might add. And all this may possibly be true, but honestly, it doesn’t exactly translate into an adventurous spirit. I love learning and I love solving complex puzzles and serendipity is one of the best feelings in the world. Doing this work allows me to engage in many of things I love. But adventurous – no. I like control way too much to consider myself adventurous.

So, lets just say I’m out of my comfort zone at this juncture. Despite every attempt to plan for contingencies back in the US, the unknowns proved more difficult to tame than I could imagine. Success has had to be redefined many times on this trip and with each change in plans my confidence takes a small blow. I imagine adventurous people thrive on solving problems in real-time. Me, I prefer a well laid plan, skilled execution, and outcomes within expected results. I think that makes me a nerd. I’ve got the wardrobe to prove it!

Where does that leave us? Michael was successful in getting the foundation across the boarder today and the truck is nearing Bor as I write. Michael sounded exhausted. The “fees” and “permits” (if they can be called that) at the border totaled over $900 USD. The goal in the few days remaining is to sink some helical piers at the site for testing, secure the material, pack up, and head home.

We’ll pick it up after the rains stop in late October, early November. Building now, while technically possible, adds too many new unknowns to the equation. We don’t have the resources to take risks with hidden variables. It’s a difficult decision to make and even harder to come to peace with. And though postponing construction is biggest decision I’ve had to face this trip, it essentially amounts to calling a time out. Not too glamorous as decisions go. No big play, no hail-mary. Not very adventurous.

On the other hand, it’s not all that different than what I expected. Perhaps adventurous people are optimists by nature. I’m a realist. In the end, we had a well laid plan, it was executed with skill – and I dare say heart – and the outcome was within expected results.


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