Sudan

Day 30 Tuesday 9th November. 2010

The boat breakfast consisted of some beans in thin cumin soup, boiled egg, fig jam, laughing cow cheese, bread, pickled carrot and long white crunchy thing!!!!????? But strange to say at nine thirty on a Tuesday morning it was a welcome meal. (Too much sun again).

Paperwork started as we docked at midday and we got off at half four. Not too bad as we watched the same care being taken offloading but in two or so hours it was all gone.

We all cleared customs and wandered into the heat to find a taxi to town. The drivers would not budge from fiveSD per person, even with a full over loaded truck of ten. One of our German bikers said OK five, jumped in the seat and said ”OK lets go!! but he did not want to take only one of course, the driver saw the funny side of it and we all laughed, got in and paid the full fair!!

Wadi Halfa is like a film set for a western film, wooden buildings, dirt roads and dust. The first hotel we were taken to would only let the men sleep together and the women outside. Well the second half of it is OK… The next was full and so was the next, I’m starting to feel like I’m in a nativity play as it’s getting late, I need a shower and Lee van Cleff is about to walk around the corner, idly thumbing rounds into a spare cylinder. Hotel number four we set up home for hopefully only one night. With a little haggling from Diane we shared a bed and did not pay fifteen SD each but between us.

Everyone met up in the green cafe at the far side of town and ate good food and drank Pepsi??? Yes Sudan is dry, although us two have had no beer since Luxor as it was not very nice (we had cold, delicious wiezebier there) and to save money.

Day 31 Wednesday 10th November

At midday we taxied to town for three SD each.. (its nasty when they have you by the balls) to pick up vehicles, all went smoothly. By four PM we had registered as aliens and took to the desert road to camp up. Eleven clicks out of town, off the road we spent the night under the stars and the silence was overwhelming, I slept like a Scarab beetle, which I found under my ground sheet in the morning.

Day 32 Thursday 11th November.

On the road at seven thirty and got to Dongla by eleven thirty. At sixty km or so from Abri the fuel light came on and as we had only had three liter of spare fuel I started to get nervous when stopping at one stop to be told no fuel till Abri.. Sixty seven km later we filled up. That’s the most I have ever got in the bike, twenty one and a half liters. We filled two of our four five liter fuel cans and still had the three ”spare” cooking fuel as well. At the fuel stop a chap came over to us and asked the usual questions. He the escorted us to the local market with we did need and bought our first Sudanese bread, really nice, and some lovely tomatoes. All the toms we have bought in this country have been really full of flavor. Nice to walk around the market with him as he did seem to do us a favor by sorting out the best deal for us. He then proudly announced that unlike Egyptians, Sudanese people did not ask for backshesh, so he shook our hands and wished us well. After riding through the desert for four hours I was glad to have missed out on the opportunity to ride the western desert road which is about a thousand miles. At Dongla we chatted to the gas station owners who seamed to imply that the best thing in town was the market, t,hat we did not need at this moment, so we filled up with fuel and ten liters of water and decided to cross the Nubian Desert to Karima.

Karima boasts dusty streets, a traditional Nubian rest home and a few pyramids. so we headed out the next day, after being told by a charming Italian lady that a night at the rest home would cost us five hundred SD. It is a beautiful place, big cool rooms and a chess board but too much money. So we camped next to a new water extraction point. Sounds romantic I know but it was secluded and quiet there.

Day 33 Friday 12th November

Another early start saw us at the Blue Nile Sailing club. Sounds fantastic but if there was enough water coming out of the shower it would have been cold, we hoped for a washing machine to do all our gear, nope. I had a ”shower” in the ladies as the light did not work in the gents. Later went to do teeth and a shave to find the light did not work at the sink either. Back in the ladies I surprised a couple of Muslim women wanting to use the loo. Well there was a door and I could not see anything. Expecting to be evicted out of our thirteen USD a night palace I finished my ablutions and left.

The sailing club is on the river but alas also next to the road and in middle of town. We must be close to the Japanese quarter because at nine pm there came the sound of lovely Japanese music from over the road at a million decibel. Perfect way to end the day. Did not stop me sleeping though.

Day 34 Saturday 13th November

Resisting the overwhelming desire to leave the comforting folds of the Blue Nile Sailing Club to the cheaper and better equiped National Camping Grounds due to the very real fact that it was too warm to pack all the gear away and re camp eight km away. We all had a slow day forging our paperwork for the impending Ethiopian border crossing in a few days. For unknown reasons the Ethiopian government has decided that carnets are not acceptable and now require a letter from your own embassy stating they will bail you if any ill winds blow your way. Four of us did this but only one had a response. So here we sit with laptop and photo-shop in full bore. Rob and Sarah had recieved a letter from the British Embassy but us and two others had not. Peter had a laptop with photo shop…… We called out our V.I.N. numbers, licence plate numbers, names and address in the U.K. All the data was logged on to our official letter from our loving governments, with a few more ‘officail’ stamps cut and pasted in from a government website. Well, those who help themselves, when help from home does not come may carry on!!!! And not be turned back from the border.  With the presious data on a flash drive the next morning saw us in the internet section of the local supermarket, behind a vail of curtains. The very helpful young man printed our documents and we hurried out incase we were being filmed by spies. First few across the line will win we reckon, as they will rumble the ruse soon, won’t they?

Day 35 Sunday 14th November

Tore ourselves away at ten o’clock on a goose chase to a camping shop that everyone said existed but we never found. had a very long ride through the market area of Khartoum trying to find our way back to the main road. The road out of town to Gedaref is one of the worst we have been on so far, not quite Belgian standards but very close. The dust off the road and smoke from the local ”doller” buses made for a journey that could not end to soon for me. Stopping off near Rufa for a few biscuits, a very welcome grapefruit and more water made the second leg feel better though the truth was it’s still poor!!

We hit the bright lights of Wad Medani filled up and promptly took the wrong road out of town. Asking quite a few folks with no avail, I thought that taxi drivers always know the way, but English is not widely spoken in these circles. Probably fifteen minuets had passed us by as a group of maybe seven tuk tuk pilots discussed our route to the river, and out of town. The passing of time was made more poignant for me as I watched the shadows growing longer and we still had to find a place to sleep.  A man on a scooter stopped by and he offered to show us the way, result. I’m not sure if he took the most direct route as he seamed to pass by an awful lot of his friends homes, waving to them and pointing behind to us on this weird looking thing. The smile on his face said it all. We arrived at the bridge and it took fifteen minutes or so to say good bye to him and head to the near by shop where we thought a watermelon would be a good way to finish the day. It’s close to sun set now and we still need a place to crash for the night. Scooter hero said there is a hotel at the back of the shop, so we headed there, following the footsteps of two very English looking guys. Hoping to be allowed to camp in the grounds. Diane had negotiations with desk man, NO WAY was the firm reply. But we can have a room for one hundred and twenty SD. Far too much even though it’s about twenty-four English. Diane soon had forty-nine SD on the table and pleaded that was all we had. Key in hand, invite to dine with the two English guys, we head off to have our first warm shower since the boat from Venice. Yes the water run brown with the sand dust that B.N.S.C.’s crap facilities could not shift.

Dinner was a pleasant affair, spent with Mark and Adrian who are commissioning gas equipment for the local hospital. Our first meal that is not a one pot stew cum soup thing since we left Martin and Pepi in Germany a long time ago.

Hope to make the Gallabat / Metema crossing tomorrow…..

Day 36 Monday 15th November

We left the hotel after being given two apples for breakfast by the chap Diane had bargained with the night before for the room, very nice man. Another excellent days riding in the hot sunshine saw ”Gederf welcomes you” in my mirrors at dinner time. We were too hot to eat I went off to search in vain in the soak for Sudanese sticker for my panniers. A very helpful lad of about thirteen helped me through the mass of goats, fruit, veg, shoes, cigarette lighters, sacks of chillies and mostly men making clothes and possibly bed linen. We walked for half an hour and found a chap who would make me a ”alum”, but alas this would be of cloth and not plastic vinyl as I needed to stick on the box. Miss-understanding cleared up we walked on to buy bread and then he left me and said he would return in ten minutes and meet me by the bike. We waited in the heat and watched the mass of traffic come and go, true to his word he arrived but my heart sank when I saw his face that said ”no sticker”. After filling up all our cans and tanks we headed south to Metema.

About thirty clicks from the border we fell, I recall shouting oh shite! We hit the tar hard, falling on the right hand side of the bike. It was hot over fifty degrees, so like simpletons we hard taken the brave (foolish) move of riding without gloves. It was such a relief to get a little fresh air up our coat sleeves we felt  liberated and rebellious. Well as we landed our coat sleeves got pushed up our arms leaving only the thermal Moreno wool to protect us from the tar at maybe eighty clicks an hour. Needless to say when we stopped sliding it hurt. By an amazing stroke of luck I had come to rest with my right leg wedged under the right hand side panniers resulting me face down to the tar, pretty much unable to move. Diane was hurt and bleeding from both hands and forearms but walking. The bike, with its  new-found cushion was in the middle of the thankfully quiet road. Diane was able to lift the weight off me so could worm out and bleed in comfort. Without thought we heaved the bike upright onto the prop stand as fuel and precious water was pouring out of the tanks. With this task done I said “I feel so sleepy, think I’ll snooze a bit”, and lay in the center of the road and passed out. Being dragged back into this world by Diane shouting to me down a long, long tunnel “wake up you stupid bastard” so many times I focused on her through foggy eyes and said “what?!! I needed a rest that’s all”. Four or five local fellas had arrived some on push cycles, one or two on small motorcycles, and between them the pushed my beloved KTM to the side of the road, while I sat there still wanting to just sleep. One of our rescuers looked at my gaping right elbow and said “brother I see muscle and white strings in your arm, you need  to go back and find hospital for you and your beautiful wife”. Feeling sick I stumbled to the scrub and sat down. Our heroes and saviors left and we sat and licked our wounds. Rob and Sarah came down the road. Later Sarah said they saw us by the road and later commentated that they said ” Oh look there is Andrew and Diane having a rest”. Then they said they saw the blood on the road and stopped to help us. Putting the red roll bags in their bakkie, alongside me, Diane tried to ride the bike to the border. After ten metres or so the steering was so wobbly she could not hold it. So back on the machine I weaved my way to the border with Alfie the Landrover picking up the bits that we had not secured due to shock. At Metema we met other overlanders and we all cleared immigration and customs out of Sudan together.

Arriving late at the border and being hurried through as tomorrow is a holiday we camped at the customs compound which sounds much grander than it is.

Diane now in full, delayed shock lay down on a table outside of immigration and stared to snore, loudly. When the formalities were compleated I dragged her off so we could find our “camp site”.

After starting the bike, and attempting to ride off I fell as soon as I let the clutch out. Shaken, pissed off, tired and possibly still in shock of our fall three hours ago, I tried again. Fell once more. Very grumpy I got off and looked at the situation, a fecking huge rock was in front of the rear wheel. We though maybe it was put there by a sneaky person, but in reality it’s probably was just me not thinking straight.

Tent up, in the dark, on the stony dry mud I went in search of water and passed the communal toilet which was, when I peered into to gloom lit by a sixty watt lamp, five metres away.  I saw a mass of shite and maggots, moving like nothing I had seen before. Eyes looking back at me saying “come and squat”

After filtering some water I made tea and we slept. Leaving the toilet to those whom can’t pee into the hedge.

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