Khawajas in Kassala

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Africa » Sudan » East » Kassala
February 25th 2012
Published: March 23rd 2012
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We had to get up at 6 a.m. to get the bus out to Kassala. Kassala is right beside the border with Eritrea and the bus took 8 hours to get there. It was pretty much desert the whole way until we got closer to Kassala, when we spotted lots of villages of huts made of mud and straw.

The bus dropped us at a little souk about 5 minutes away by taxi from Kassala. We arrived and found the Riyad hotel, which we checked into. Walking around Kassala, we got a lot more stares than anywhere else and loads of people coming up to us to shout 'Khawaja' (foreigner). This wasn't done in a threatening way though and people were extremely friendly.

Registering at the police station was another experience of comical Sudanese bureaucracy. We were sent to 2 different policemen's offices, both of whom didn't speak English before a third guy came in in plain clothes. We thought that this guy would sort everything out, but after a conversation between the 3 of them he turned to us and said 'No English'. A fourth guy came in who did speak English and he took our details, gave them to the other guy who wrote them down.

Kassala is overlooked by these incredible mountains, which look like massive big boulders. We got a bus out to these and trekked up some of the way of one of them. We were followed by one local guy, who decided to climb with us. Shortly afterwards another older guy came up and was gesturing to us that we had to get down. The first guy gestured that we didn't and that this guy was crazy. We weren't sure what to do and then a big crowd of kids arrived with a couple of other old guys. One seemed to be the most senior and they all had a big discussion until the oldest guy told us we could go on.

We later walked through some of the villages, where the people were living in nothing more than shelters made of straw and sticks, with some made of mud. That night afer getting some fuul for dinner we found a shisha place that was showing the League Cup final between Liverpool and Cardiff, which Liverpool won on penalties to the dismay of most of the punters in the place.

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