Sudan in words (and now pictures)

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December 12th 2010
Published: December 12th 2010
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So, after three weeks of travelling through Sudan, it's time to head to Ethiopia. I'm a couple of weeks behind on the blog, and I'll try to catch up when I can, but here's a breif glimpse into the last few weeks. Although Sudan neighbours Egypt, there's a massive contrast between the two countries. For a start, it's a whole lot more relaxed this side of the border - shouting Egyptians, in your face, often after your dollar, replaced by softly spoken Sudanese, with a smile here, and a handshake there. Sudan doesn't really do big sights, attractions, or photo opportunities either, at least not compared to north of the border. Instead, the best part for me has the reception we've received from the locals. Whereas Egypt will take your breathe away, Sudan will win your heart. Consequently, my photos just don't do the place justice. As in India, there's more here than be captured in a photo. Instead, I've tried to sum it up words...

The first thing you notice is the heat. A heat so hot, so stifling, that the only thing you can do is sleep. And it's the winter. Then there's dust. So pervasive that the whole country seems brown. So pervasive, that you're dirty as soon as you leave the shower. Dirt that builds up and up, and becomes the floor. Then, there's the pace of life that seems to follow the flow of the Nile. Tea ladies sat behind metal cabinets, with a row of recycled Nescafe jars, three pots bubbling on a smouldering fire, and chairs made of paint pots, all under an ovrhanging tree alongside a busy road in Khartoum. Ginger spiced coffee from long necked pots. Cups of tea that are so sweet you feel your teeth rotting. Foul (a meal of refried beans, pronouced "fool"). Three times a day. Served in a round stainless pots. Foul with foul. Foul with eggs. Foul with cheese. Foul in bread. Foul with oil. Sometimes oil with a bit of foul. But always, three times a day, foul. Falafels, dry and in a bun without any sauce. Fruit juices, freshly squeezed, but with a kilo of added sugar. Dust, dust and yet more dust. Heat, heat, and yet more heat.

The US dollar. Chinese roads. Chinese bikes. Chinese buses. Chinese buses covered in stickers. Tom & Jerry stickers. Hannah Montana stickers. Heart shaped President Bashir stikers. Sudanese flag stickers. Police bikes that are straight out of 1980s Americana. A love of Britian. A love/hate of America. Men gathered around a flickering TV on a dark street, their faces lit up by the off-colour glow, cheering along to American Wrestling, copying the moves, cheering every punch. Dominoes in the street, surrounded by a gathering of 30 men, like an ancient fight club. Dust, dust and yet more dust. Heat, heat, and yet more heat.

Islam, but not as preached by the Western media, relaxed, open, and happy to chat. A unique mix of Africa and Islam. Headscarved women, hiding their shyness. Dancing at a wedding, clicking hands held a loft in the hot night air. Turbaned men riding side saddle of donkeys. Boys bringing home the harvest of wheat on a donkey drawn cart, th whip cracking on the animals back as it trots down the road, overtaken by Land Cruisers and buses. Towns that go to sleep with the sunset, yet don't wake up in the day.Policemen trying to be feirce, but their wide grin giving the game away. Antiquities without a guard, fence, or even another tourist in sight. A fence around the pyramids at Begerawiya to keep the tourists in. Dust, dust and yet more dust. Heat, heat, and yet more heat.

And some of the nicest, friendliest people your are ever likely to meet while travelling. Who'll walk five minutes out of their way to find the bus you need. Who are contsantly paying for your tea or coffee. Who clearly feel agreived at the way they've been painted in the West because of the actions of the government, but couldn't do anything more to make a tourist feel welcome.

Dust, dust and yet more dust. Heat, heat, and yet more heat.

In short, come and visit, and enjoy it for yourself. Just be prepared for most dust and heat than you thought possible.

Additional photos below
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12th December 2010

A man said to me 'Are you going to Sudan?'
...and I said 'Why, what's he been saying?' da-dum tssssch! There's a cheesy Leslie Nielsen style joke for you in honour of the great man passing on the other week. Sounds like a great place, if a little dusty and heaty...
30th January 2011

Superbly put, your words do the place justice.
12th August 2011

hello :) , I am Sudanese who was so happy about the way you painted my country in your words to your audience, amazing words . Thank you so much from bottom of my heart. You and your family and friends are welcomed in Sudan any time , it's your country too :) . Thank you so much for the visit , please do visit again .

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