How Was Africa? / Arriving to Juba — Filming A Documentary In South Sudan Part #1

I sat there on flight 5509, we had just made it back to the U.S.A and were on our first flight within the States to head back to Memphis. The plane seats were comfortable, soon the flight attendant would pass by and ask what cold beverage we would like to enjoy, the air conditioning kept us cool and I sat there journaling a bit more about the trip.

I couldn’t help but interrupt Josh as he was deep into his reading to ask him something. He sat his book down and I asked, “What do you think you are going to say when people ask you, ‘How Was Africa?’” He looked over at me and said, “that’s a tough question.”

Josh had been to Africa (specifically South Sudan) before this trip and began to tell me how he adjusted back to “American Life” he told me how it’s easy to be cynical towards others and how he didn’t use his air conditioning for a week. We had a good talk about how we were going to approach this question.

Since that conversation and since I was in South Sudan in 100ºF degree weather I’ve decided to not answer the question “How Was Africa” and to blog about it until I decide that the question has been justly answered.

How Was Africa? You ask…

Let me begin here…


Prior to the trip I’d been to many third world countries. The two poorest countries I’d been to were Guatemala & Uganda. Though these countries are considered “Third World” and have extreme poverty and lower living conditions, when I arrived to Juba I knew I was in the poorest country I’d ever been.

Arriving to Juba

Normally when you arrive to a country — even a developing one you can tell how poor it’s going to be by looking at their capital city. I tell people that a “Gringo” can live like a gringo if he goes to Guatemala, has alot of money and lives in the city. He can continue to live like a king and ignore or be apathetic to the poverty that surrounds or is out of the city.

From the plane I was looking for the tall buildings and developed capital as we began our descent into Juba, South Sudan.

I saw none.

Image from Google
Image from Google

I knew then that this was the poorest country I was ever going to be in, I knew I was going to see things I have never seen.

I wanted to pull out my camera and start filming — but you cannot do that in Juba and especially not at the airport.

We got off the plane and then moved towards customs.

The officer looked at my passport and then told me he was not going to let me enter the country. He was going to send me back…