One day can feel like an eternity

Trip Start Apr 09, 2008
1
86
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Trip End Aug 30, 2008


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Where I stayed
Deffintoad Hotel

Flag of Sudan  ,
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This morning we were at Magdi's office bright and early with our cars, ready to drive them onto the cargo ship bound for Aswan. But first, we had to wait until the hundreds of bags of limestone were unloaded.

The entire crew of the cargo ferry consisted of four Egyptian men. There's your typical captain (big bellied, short and stout), his right-hand-man (tall, slim, chain-smoking, and weather-faced), and two others.

While they unloaded, there was nothing we could do but wait and wait.

Seven hot hours later Foxy was allowed on board. But in the end I never even got to see Foxy being loaded onto the ship.

Christoph drove his Landy on first, carefully negotiating the two wooden planks onto the platform, and just when I was secretly trying to snap a picture, camera inside my bag, covered with another bag, the Man In Charge saw me and scolded me right away. He waved his clipboard around aggressively, screaming "NO PICTURES!! NO PICTURES" in my face.

It's all very sensitive as to what you can photograph in Sudan, even with our 'official' photography permits. When we asked earlier on, Magdi had told us we could take a quick shot of the cars if we wanted to, but to try and be discreet. Today wasn't my lucky day.

Mr. Man In Charge made me zip up my bag, finger and clipboard still wagging in my face, him still continuously chanting at full volume: "NO PICTURES!! NO PICTURES!!"

At this point, Chiho came over with her mammoth camera and lens around her shoulder, somewhat shielded by her scarf. She had managed to snap a few pictures of Christoph and the car, but at that moment, Mr. Man In Charge, now all red in the face, saw her camera and lunged for it.

A tug-of-war with Chiho's expensive camera ensued between us and him, who had now changed his mantra to a furious "GIVE ME FILM!! GIVE ME FILM!!" Eventually another guy stepped in and shooed us away down the pier. I stuffed Chiho's camera in my bag and we walked back to the waiting lounge about 500 metres away. Only then were we safe.

So I never got to say a proper goodbye to Foxy.

~~~

We found out just how lucky we were this afternoon. Usually there is a cargo ferry once a week that can ship cars to Aswan, but this week there wasn't going to be one for whatever reason.

If we hadn't put our cars onto this cargo ship, that normally doesn't take cargo back up Lake Nasser, we would've had to wait another week or so. Considering our tight schedule (both ours and C+C's), we were very fortunate to have found these guys willing to take our two Landy's with them back up to Aswan.

Lucky lucky us.

~~~

Tonight we met a friendly Korean missionary family, stationed in Khartoum, but on a four-week holiday with their three adorable little boys. They were making their way north by public transport to some of the Nubian villages in northern Sudan and then to Egypt to see Luxor and finally to swim in the Red Sea.

The boys attend the International School in Khartoum, and besides learning Arabic at school, conversing in Korean at home, they speak perfect American-accented English. Confident, curious, clever and extremely direct, we even got the "Why don't you have children yet?" accusation from them just minutes after meeting!

We found out from them (on our last day of course!) that Sudanese people have breakfast around noon, lunch at 5pm and dinner at 10pm. This totally explains why whenever we go for "dinner" (at around 6 or 7), everyone always says "Food finish" or "Not yet". We always got a plate of something, usually fuul, falafels and bread, but nobody ever told us the normal time to eat around here, and we never thought to ask!

~~~

Tomorrow we leave this port town and head north to Egypt. We are ready. This ferry trip is like the pinnacle of our journey; once we have surpassed it, the rest should be relatively easy, inshallah (God willing).

Having been in Wadi Halfa for a few days now, I'm beginning to discover its hidden charms. It was originally built in front of the railway station, but somebody made some major mistakes in calculating the tides and the entire town was washed away one year. Today there are make-shift buildings and shacks dotted around this old port town.

All of our guidebooks only have negative comments to say about this place: dusty, desolate and completely dependent on the business of the weekly ferry that brings passengers to and from Aswan in Egypt. But there is character, and if it weren't for the excruciating heat, life is easy and simple.

Still, we are looking forward to our ferry trip tomorrow to transport us to luxurious Aswan where "ATM's spew money, scantily-clad tourists offend the locals and Stella beer is freely available."

Our cabin is reportedly air-conditioned too! We already have a plan to board the ferry as soon as possible, buy copious amounts of beer (there are 9 South African overlanders, 6 Dutch backpackers, 2 Spanish bikers and 1 British backpacker besides us so we need to make a mad dash), lock the door and celebrate crossing into our 13th country in cool cabin comfort.



Start: Deffintoad Hotel, Wadi Halfa, SUDAN.
End: Deffintoad Hotel, Wadi Halfa, SUDAN.
Distance Traveled: 0
Road Conditions: -
Temperature: hot of course

*Apologies for the lack of pictures. Am now super paranoid about taking any shots here.
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