Edit Blog Post
Published: April 7th 2010
A view from My room. You won't see many pictures of Khartoum as photo taking is banned.
I finally made my way to Sudan on the 3rd of April 2010. After a pleasant morning in Sydney, Miranda and Oliver dropped me off at the airport. It was very hard especially for Oliver as he realized I was actually now going to Africa as we had been telling him I would. We made it quick and said our goodbyes in the car. This made it easier, I think, but it was sad when I looked back and the car was gone and I knew that would be the last time I would see of them (in person) for many weeks.
My Itinerary was Victoria-Vancouver-Frankfurt-Khartoum, and had only a total of 7 hours waiting in the airports. I thought this was fairly good considering the distance I was flying. Fortunately the government sees fit to book business class when soldiers must fly over 8 hours with no overnight layover. This certainly made the trip more comfortable and relaxing.
The trip itself was relatively uneventful. All my connections were on time and my time in the terminals was spent in the business lounges in Vancouver and Frankfurt. Although, in Frankfurt, after a confused look at
My room in Canada House
This will be my home for the next few weeks during the Inclearance and training process.
my photocopied and printed Visa-On-Arrival paperwork, they zoned in on me and only me for a detailed secondary security check on the ped-way to the plane. Other than arriving early, landing in Khartoum was normal up to the point of disembarking.
First to hit me was the heat. Although it was around 11pm the ambient temperature was still over 30C. Next was noticing the surroundings it was quickly evident that we were not in a typical western airport. The shuttle bus to the terminal (which by the way was barely 500 meters away I don’t know why they didn’t just park the plane closer it’s not like it was busy) had a badly smashed rear window and one full side window was smashed out. It looked like one of the buses they drive through a plant strike in Ontario. After the 2 minute shuttle ride we were at the equally decrepit international airport. Ours was the only plane landing and had less than 50 passengers, so the customs was not very busy. After wandering around briefly I meet up with the UN Protocol Officer Joseph. With his help I was through customs with a 30 day diplomatic visa in less than 15 minutes, possible setting some sort of record. Then it was on to the luggage.
Based on the fact that I checked five large items and transferred twice I was not overly optimistic that all my gear would arrive on the flight with me, but I was in luck. Joseph had offered to stay and help me with my luggage which I graciously accepted. It was a good thing I did as it would not have been easy to push two of their decrepit carts with my 300ish lbs of ungainly barrack boxes on my own. He assisted me out to the pickup point which was quite small considering it is the only international airport for a country of Sudan’s size and population. This is where the smooth ride through customs and early flight were suddenly not so appreciated. My pick-up had anticipated it would take an hour longer that it did to get out of the airport. Understandably Joseph had to leave as it was almost midnight and he had other commitments before the night was over. He was kind enough to call the Canadian personnel’s local cell phone, unfortunately everyone whose number I had happened to be on leave or out of the local area. So there I was standing in from of the international terminal with 300+ lbs of gear, two cell numbers that weren’t working, suffering from severe lack of sleep, adjusting to the 25C increase in heat, and praying that they remembered I was coming in that day. Oh did I mention that nowhere in the piles of paperwork I brought did it give the address of Canada House. So even if I was willing or able to take a taxi, I wouldn’t be able to tell them wear to take me.
After about 30 minutes a young local man attempted to communicate with me with some sort of crude sign language. He appeared to be mute as he communicated with some of the local tourism police in the same fashion. At first my suspicious and tired self though he was trying to set me up for some sort of muggin’. But after he asked a dozen strangers to borrow a phone for me (I tried to tell him it wouldn’t help as I had no effective phone numbers) and then later brought a cabby to talk to me, I realized that he may have just genuinely wanted to help. Unfortunately I had no way of rewarding him for his persistant albeit ultimately unrequired efforts. After bumping into some local national UN works, who were in the midst of trying to contact the UN dispatch on my behalf, my ride arrived. My Mute sudanness friend immediately grabbed one of the carts and pushed it for me to the truck. Him and two others who appeared out of nowhere than loaded each of the bags onto the truck before I could say not to. Now I was feeling very guilty as like mentioned I had no way to reward them (I was only carrying large denomination USD as the exchange was closed). We made a quick getaway primarily out of guilt, and partially to avoid any sort of confrontation that might ensue after the cold shouldered lack of compensating the lad’s efforts. That more or less sums up my arrival.
It turns out most of The Canadian staff had gone on a road trip to Port Sudan on the red sea. What was left of the evening was spend moving my kit into the transient UNMO quarters, chatting with a few Canadians that were still up and about, and then hitting the sack hoping I could quickly sleep away my jet lag.
Tot: 1.327s; Tpl: 0.11s; cc: 8; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0659s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb