You are currently browsing the daily archive for January 10, 2010.

5 minutes to load a web page here. Not to mention the power cut earlier!

We have arrived in Sudan! It’s a waiting game here as, after two days, we are still waiting for our vehicle to arrive on the barge from Aswan. It’s our first ‘out of our hands’ situation with the vehicle. It’s getting more frustrating but I should go local and just roll with it!

Latest news – we have handed over our carnet for the vehicle, so the customs process is in action.

We know it has entered Sundanese waters as there has been communication with the captain. He had a word with me before we left and he will be waiting for his tip on arrival. I’m sure I have some small change somewhere!

Wadi Halfa can just about be called a town. With very little to see so we seat ourselves outside the restaurant here, eating fried fish and milky tea as we wait. There are six other cars and two motorbikes on the barge, so we are all guessing when it will arrive. We can’t take another night in our room. Images to come when we get moving again.

The ferry over was unique experience. The frist class cabin was very basic. Bun thought she heard a rat in the air conditioning unit and the 1st café area had more cockroaches than customers. The food on board was better than expected.

The 2nd class section was an area at the back of the ship and the entire deck area on top was for the rest of the passengers who had to find whatever space they could for themselves and their boxes of electrical goods that included blenders and juicers. No matter what size your cargo was, it had to get on board through the one entrance. There was no order to anything and chaos reigned.

Men prayed on deck where they could find space. Those unlucky enough had to try to sleep at the back of the ship where the engine are housed.

Luckily we had decided on 1st class. The time it took to load the vehicle on the barge and deal with customs, we would never had found a place on top.

With formalities out of the way we set sail at 5pm. We waited till 6pm before going to see Sudanese immigration. They checked our visas and took our temperature. We were told after arrival that two people had been quarantined because of high temperatures.

Alongside the other overlanders on the ship, there were others backpacking. One man from Liverpool had taken, whilst on his travels, the world record for visiting the most countries in one trip. He was working for Lonely Planet and he would randomly pull out his video camera and turn it on himself and start talking to the camera. He got very animated when we got off the boat and he saw the train Michael Palin had taken from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum in ‘Pole to Pole’. This was as far into Sudan that he was going. He had got his stamp in his passport and was heading back to Egypt the next day on the same ferry.

On arrival in Sudan, you are required to register with the government if you intend to stay longer than three days. It is a taster for Sudanese beaurocracy, known to be one of the worst in Africa. I’ll give it time, but initial dealings with it were not good. The fee goes up and down depending on where you have it down. We had time so we completed the formalities the next day in Wadi Halfa. It was a guessing game which office to go to next as we had to have papers signed and re-signed before handing over 100 sdg ( $40 ).

Currency is sorted and have changed all the Egyptian pounds I had left over. I managed to find a couple from Liechtenstein who are heading north back to Europe so I swapped over my Egypt sim card for their Sudan sim card.

A funny story from the ferry. I can only assume Apple had been to Africa just to get the right dimensions to avoid disaster for my iPhone. Those familiar with the elephant head toilet can picture it now. I had gone to the toilet for my daily ablution with the iPhone in my pocket. As I pulled my trousers down I noticed the phone heading to the hole in the elephant head. Before I knew it, the phone had got trapped perfectly upright in the hole and avoided getting lost forever. Some rubbing with the antibacterial gel and the phone was ready to go again!

One of the delights of travelling in Africa. We are looking forward to seeing and meeting as many of the distinctive groups found in Sudan over the next two / three weeks. Some of the many ethnic groups include: Beja ( famed warriors, who herd camel and sheep near the Red Sea). Nubians, as found in Aswan in Egypt. Dinka ( largest non-Arab group in Sudan who live either side of the White Nile. Cattle is key to Dinka culture. Nuer ( Like Dinka, cattle is highly prized. They share a creation myth with the Dinka’s and is the reason for their old enmity. Shilluk ( primarily farmers and fishermen. They live on the western bank of the White Nile. Equatorians (An agricultural hierarchical society. Ruled by a king). Nuba ( Best known for their love of wrestling and beer! They have muslim and non-muslim identities and occupy farming land near the Nuba mountains.

Hallelujah – I have finished the book ‘Blood River’. I’m deciding what to read next. Bun is reading Dark Star Safari – from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux.

Album of last week – Hypnotic Brass Ensemble:Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

We are watching – Tyson

January 2010