God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Day 11: 27th April 2011

The first sunlight is already visible when we pack and once again take to the road. Nicaragua at its best: clean roads and resting places, no military road blocks and the people are waving friendly as we pass through the towns and villages.

Horse coaches and cars are parking in front of busy shops, farmers on horseback are on their way with their cattle and the lorries on the road stipulate this kind of nostalgia known from old movies.

At 8 am we arrive at the border to Costa Rica and once again we experience the never ending story of running from office to office, copy here, stamp there, and then the other way around. At 12.30pm we can leave, following a circle of demands and payments. And the result: our timing is once again spoilt and to make this day more remarkable heaven decides to let it rain cats and dogs, thunder and lightning and we have to swim on the streets instead of driving. And then a scene only know from adventure movies: A massive boulder rushes down the steep face of the mountain side and only Sandra’s driving skills and maybe the so called “hand of God” prevents the fatal encounter between car and stone. But to make it worse: the stone crashes against the slope and makes his way back in the direction of Sandra’s car, only to fall apart next to the Amarok. Well, whether it was a guardian angel or Stefan’s prayer or the Provinzial Insurance protecting us in this moment – we are happy that all is ok – luck pure.

The appointment at the University of St Juan we have to cancel. It is indeed a pity as this would have been an encounter with medical students, but we receive note, that the event at the University is not cancelled and so the Round Table and the press conference is taking place without us. So the topic HIV and AIDS are not forgotten this day.

We encounter St Juan, the capital of Costa Rica with heavy traffic as the rush hour kicks in when we make our way through the city centre. Well, one cannot really talk about a rush hour as the traffic stands still for lengthy minutes. And to make it worse: a train is also integrated on the major road and there is heavy competition which vehicle comes first: train or car.

1.5 hours later we have made it, only to be challenged by the so called “death ramp” which leads up in narrow bends up to 4000 m above sea level only to go down again. The road is a graveyard for many cars and lorries and drivers who thought that the narrow bends don’t matter when over taking other cars.

Mahuma is in the lead encountering wet roads, boulders, mud, slow vehicles – and we manage to be at the border to Panama at 11pm. And half an hour too late – customs is closed, seemingly a normality here that officials go home to sleep at night – even if the Internet information gives a 24 hour opening for the border crossing.

And now we have a serious problem, as we have to reach Colon in time to get the cars shipped to Columbia. So it is a night hoping for the best until the custom officials are starting their work at 6 am in the morning.

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HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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