#131 Pool Day Sundays
Submitted by Matt from Juba
So, it’s Sunday, the week has been an endless combination of coffee shops, airtight lids, acronyms and talking about poop. You’re tired of trying to have a fling with the nearest member of your PSD team while holding onto your long distance relationship and dancing with locals. It’s time to re-charge and there’s no better way than your weekly Haj to the only compound in town with a pool.
Mornings tend to go OK if you’ve motivated yourself early enough. There’s a sun bed or two free, the Russian pilots have only sunk 1/2 their bodyweight in vodka and for once their shrunken banana hammocks don’t induce immediate vomiting or turn you on.
As the day rolls on the tourists arrive. Brits are ridiculously proud of being lobster red, milk-bottle white, or both. The Euros remain nonchalant, omitting peculiar odours as only they know how. The Americans can be heard above all else. They just love it loud,ok, deal with it! The Saffa’s and Zim’s take up residence in the corner of the pool and become one with the beer and water. Bodies of all types, shapes, colours, smells arrive. The entertainment is in judging and comparing silently, how dull it would be if we didn’t? It’s the best and worst of being an EAW on Sundays.
Things are getting pleasantly silly. De-miners arrive from weeks in the bush and they’re nothing but strange. Ex-combat engineers from a variety of landmine-covered countries coming to your country of choice to clear landmines (Hmmmmm). You can tell things are different for them in the bush…their drinking is slightly different. There’s a mission involved: possibly to out-do the Russians; probably to forget whatever happened on those long nights. They don’t bother with the Speedos. Butt-naked will do just fine, thank you. The small mercy is that they’re usually unconscious by 11.43 a.m.
The people-watching is first class. Couples are evident in various stages of courtship ranging from ‘I just woke up with his crotch on my forehead this morning’ to ‘this person’s going to be with me forever (or at least until my tour finishes)’. There are odd mismatches like Bob, the 58-year-old married program manager, with the 19-year-old field coordinator (they’re just friends you know). The Lebanese dude has expertly cornered the newbie who last night naively took him up on an offer of tasting his special kibbeh nayyeh. She’s looking for the escape route but alas she’s trapped for the day. The KC is once again blagging the ‘bush pilot’ story while announcing that he invented the ‘Kikoi‘ (and she’s fallen for it again). The one person in town who actually exercises walks past for the 15th time, hash t-shirt on, using it like a moth’s flame. Others are having relationships with their Kindles. It’s disturbing. They don’t move, ever. EAW pool variety is staggering.
Swimwear is a cause for concern. Some non-EAW’s might think there’s a nice simplicity about the ‘other nationalities’ not caring about the differences between boardies and y-fronts, bikinis and bras. They, however, likely haven’t been privy to the horrors in many developing country pools, and most would alter their opinion after a close encounter with ‘see-through, tight white pants man….’ You know, beautiful day, nice swim, unthinkingly you take a rest slightly too close to the pool stairs and moments later have transparent wet pants junk inches from your face.
Finally, no Sunday would be complete without the prize spectacle that every EAW wants to partake in. Teaching the non-swimmer to swim. A sight that brings tears to the eyes. The golden moments of every Sunday outing. It’s not clear why this scene is so amusing. Is it the similarity to a ‘Jaws’ attack scene (without the shark) or the irony of how so much effort can still result in a drowning? (A metaphor for our industry overall?) It’s a sport one never tires of watching. Methods of instruction differ greatly, from the poor chap being guided by an EAW who chooses ‘the boys’ as the point of underwater support (fun when there is a particularly energetic thrasher, getting nowhere fast — a chance that swimming was never his intention?) to those with the more direct method of guiding their ‘victim’ straight to the deep end on the naive notion that instinct will kick in. They do kick for a while, then sink splendidly to a few cheers from those at ringside. It’s a nobel gesture and if proved succesful will probably be the most noteworthy achievement of the EAW’s career, but generally genetics and body mass indexes are triumphant and the poor pool boy fishes out the sunken lost causes a day or two later.
Pool Day. It’s so much more than the name suggests. Where else can you witness such colourful variety, where EAWs, usually having consumed 8 Dawas, 4 Bloody Mary’s, 2 Tuskers and a Slush, perform to their very best whilst being proudly almost naked. It’s truly SEAWL….Fact!