You are rich
Trip Start Apr 09, 2008
138Trip End Aug 30, 2008
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Where I stayed
While filling up with diesel at the Total Gas Station in Gedaref, we met Mergni Mohammed, tall broad and extremely dark. He came right up to us, took our hands with a firm grip and pumped them up and down.
The conversation went a little like this:
MM: "Oh, welcome to my country!"
Us: "Thank you, it is very beautiful."
MM: "From where do you come?"
Us: "From Canada and England."
MM: "Oh, they are rich countries, you are a good match."
Us: "Yes, we are lucky."
MM: "You have children?"
Us: "No, not yet
MM: "But you must have children soon!"
Us: "Yes, we will. Your English is very good. Where did you study?"
MM: "I have learning English for many years, study hard all self. I want to go abroad to live. I want to convert to Christianity so I leave Sudan and go to rich country."
Us: "Oh, uh, well, you don't need to become Christian to go to another country. You can stay Muslim, that's no problem."
MM: "No no no, I must change so I have more chance to go to England and Canada."
Us: "No, these countries don't need you to change religion."
MM: "Hmmm... there is no racism in your country, no? Everyone is friend."
Us: "Well, there are many problems with racism in many cities. Not everyone is friendly."
MM: "No, I don't believe! What kind of racism?"
Us: "Well, sometimes people don't like your skin colour, your religion, your language, your hair colour, the food you eat, how you smell, how you dress, it can be anything!"
MM: "No, I still go and I be friends with everyone!"
Us: "I hope your dream will come true one day."
MM: "Inshallah (God willing)....
After giving Mergni our email address, we bid him good luck and drove off with our tanks full of cheap Sudanese diesel thinking how fortunate it was to meet someone so engaging and excited to meet us, strangers from faraway lands. He is just one of thousands of Sudanese people dreaming similar dreams that are simple and honest, but for the most part, unanswered.
The day's drive was pretty uneventful, except for dodging the speeding trucks and buses. I've realized that straight tar roads aren't necessarily a good thing; they just cause more reckless and inexperienced drivers to travel at outrageous speeds. It's like a video game, but in this version, once it's GAME OVER it really is GAME OVER.
The scenery was also pretty uninspiring in terms of diversity and colour. Carcasses of dogs, cows and goats were littered all over the side of the road, all at various stages of decomposition. It was obvious that animals couldn't possibly survive in such harsh conditions with very little food and water in this dry desolate environment.
I also noticed there were no humans in sight
Survival in Sudan.
Hot, dusty, incredibly thirsty and sweaty, we arrived at the National Campsite in Khartoum South around dusk. The place is a huge compound with a few dozen portable buildings, numerous ablution blocks, a small shop selling cold drinks and biscuits and a huge outdoor amphitheatre and dusty field. We parked in the field under the trees.
The whole place looks like an army compound or the sort of place where the International Olympics Committee would set up a little village for athletes.
The shower was hot, can you believe? Not from any sort of heating system, but from the fact that it had been heated all day in the black water tank
For dinner, we walked back up to the junction, a ten minute sweaty stroll, where we ate at a local restaurant while watching Al-Jazeera on television. A beautiful Ethiopian waitress served us chicken kebabs, chicken cooked with onions in a hot sauce, fresh salad (served with cold French fries on top!), and a plate of buttered rice. Everything is garnished with cinnamon and lime, a signature Middle Eastern flavour and very tasty.
This restaurant served some fresh blended juices as well, and the mango+milk combination was absolutely divine.
Because it was already dark, we hailed a couple of tuktuk's back to the campsite, little motorized rickshaws. We were told that each tuktuk can "only fit two-point-five persons" so we had to get two.
It was still very hot and sticky out, probably in the high 30's. There was nothing we could do but try and sleep.
Start: Somewhere in the bush, well exactly at N 13 14.120' E035 51.368', SUDAN. 09:30
End: National Campsite, Khartoum, SUDAN. 18:30
Distance Traveled: 521 km
Road Conditions: smooth paved highway with manic speeding buses and trucks.
Average Speed: 71.8 km/hr
Max Speed: 104 km/hr
Temperature: 46 degrees Celcius. When driving, it feels like a hot hair-dryer is blowing in your face; whilst idle, it's like being in a sauna.