God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Day 12: 28th April 2011

The day of truth: Do we achieve our goal to get the cars onto the container ship or does all our planning vanish through a closed border? The tour is stressful enough as it is, one does not need this extra excitement. On the other hand days like this one show what kind of team we have created. We all know what to do, our cars are somehow flying over the roads, all drivers exceed the expectations put into them, and with walkie talkies used at all times the coordination of five cars reach full potential. No complains about long driving hours, no complains about missing meals – but is that sufficient?

Yes it is, dear reader, and we have proved to be a team beating time and circumstances. At 6pm on the dot we arrive at customs and Julian aka Che as well as Andreas achieve crossing the border within 2,5 hours. We virtually fly over the roads, no time to see the beautiful landscape, the tropic rain forest and all the farms in the beautiful settings. Sun, rain and a humidity of 80% keep us sweating at all times.

And within 7 hours we reach Colon by leaving Panama City on our right side and crossing the Panama Canal via a huge bridge. At 5.30 pm we are standing in front of the harbor terminal in Colon. And a real chaos awaits us: a truck touched another car and obviously the drivers have to get the damage assessed. All other cars coming from all directions try to circle around the accident – everybody tries it at the same time. Traffic comes almost to a standstill. Truckers start hooting adding to the confusion. In all this chaos nobody takes note that our Katrin is trying to disappear behind bushes for some urgent business, only to get stuck in the marsh and suddenly half of her body is gone underground. Only in the last second she is able to catch a wood and to get herself out of the mess. The laugh is always on the loser and she gets a nickname: Katrin, the grouse.

At the end we get the go ahead to enter the harbor, all cars are photographed in detail and then driven into the readily prepared containers. As we realize that the workers cannot handle the Amaroks on a narrow path within the container hall and that they have difficulty getting out when the car is in the container, we jump in to get the job done. Wooden bars are nailed around the wheels of our Amaroks to secure them and we bid farewell to the cars. It is a strange feeling losing our homes.

While the cars are on the way to Cartagena in Columbia, we will follow them on Monday by plane. But first we head to Villa Michelle with an old minivan, an oasis in a not so pretty suburb of Panama City. Our 3 bedrooms shared by 11 are waiting for us and to be able to shower again after one week is an indescribable feeling. Pizza for all at midnight and still time to draw a resume: We can be satisfied – and there is one sign that we really did well: Joachim is smiling unusually often …

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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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