We woke up only to find that we did end up in the front yard of a little house last night :o) It was a bit dark by then so we couldn’t see exactly where we camped. It looked empty however and we did not see or hear anyone in the time that we camped there. It is actually amazing that you can camp ‘wild’ in Sudan without anyone noticing or worrying about it. And it is always quite an adventure to find the right spot for the night.
We packed up without our usual cup of coffee as the MSR stove is in need of a good clean inside to make it work properly again. We stopped at the nearest truck stop, which in Sudan is usually two corrugated iron buildings on each side (one a kitchen and the other a shop) connected with a communal area with shade for eating, sitting, sleeping, resting etc. Most truckers stop here for tea and food. We arrived and Mr. Khaliel welcomed us to the place, made us sit down and served us a good breakfast with falafel (bread) and eggs and sweet tea.
We ended up paying about R22 for this plus two cold drinks and two bottled waters. We took out the Africa Lonely Planet Guide to show them exactly where South Africa is, just to make sure they see we are from the same continent. In Africa most locals think we are from Europe. The chef and another young man started paging through the Africa guide and started reading about Sudan. The one asked me what is “cardamom”?, which was under local Sudanese food and drink. I knew it was a spice and think it was on my plate so I pointed to the red spices in a bowl, hoping I got it right (?). They liked the book so much, paging and paging through it and we decided to give it to them as we had a guide for Egypt and was almost at the end of Sudan. Here they are:
They saw our names at the back which Francois scribbled in with a nice picture of a motorbike and once they got our names they kept on calling us showing us different things – it was nice. I also discreetly took a photo of the breakfast that we had (the one above with Francois) And then we started getting requests from the people around to also take photos of them. In the picture below, the guy on the bed said that I should take a photo of the potato man, but he posed so nicely I’m sure he just wanted to be in the picture too. They were very friendly.
We then also took a group picture with everyone joining in and us showing them the photo on the little playback screen on the camera afterwards – they loved it.
Mr. Khaliel also wanted a photo with me and I managed to do one with a strange face.
They were so kind and Mr. Khaliel offered to fill all our water bottles with fresh water and we ended up leaving with 6 litres of their precious water, which must be hard to come by in the desert. It was another example of amazing Sudanese hospitality.
The wind was right from the front today so we could only do about 60km/ph. We wanted to work in a visit to the Soleb historical site, but it is very difficult to find as it is across the river on the West Bank and the only way is by boat (if you can find the boat?). So we will have to do this the next time we are in Sudan, with the other amazing sites that are hidden away on this stretch. We ended up in the last ‘biggish’ town before Wadi Halfa, Abri to fill up with fuel. We were also looking for a place to sit a bit and hide from the wind so we ended up sitting at the garage. Many people came over to say hallo and we also got free tea again.
Unfortunately next thing we knew a guy came over and said that we should go with him to register at security. We saw a few guys down the street with military clothes so we thought we were going there to write our details in the book as has been the case at many other check points. But instead he made us walk past that for another block until we reached a house where we were taken inside and had to sit and wait in a small dark office. People came and go, and we suddenly started to get very nervous. We didn’t know what they wanted or what we were doing there and it turned out to be a bit scary. Eventually they took us to another office where there was a guy who asked us what we were doing here, where we were going and he wanted our passports. The problem was that he could not speak English very well and he as sure as hell didn’t know what he was supposed to do with us. I started getting irritated when he started writing down the details of our Uganda visa in our passport not even noticing that we was busy with the wrong country (!). Luckily Francois remained his charming self as he had to guide the official through all the details on our passports… like what does the code “PP” mean under type, what is ZAF? What is the Department of Home Affairs? They went through it again when it came to mine. We had to explain a few times that we were only tourists… He wrote down everything on a piece of paper. Finally he made another phone call and after about an hour there he let us go, walking us to the door. I don’t think they mean harm, but it was scary as they clearly didn’t know what to do and nobody could explain to us what we were doing there. Once outside we ran back to the bikes, very glad to be free and rushed back into the desert :o)
Just before sunset we chose a camping place next to a rocky outcrop hiding in its shade until the sun went down before we pitched the tent again.
We were far from the road, but still didn’t want to publicise our presence there. Francois fixed the MSR stove and we had a cup of smash and a tin of tuna fish in a beautiful area in the middle of nowhere.
This will be our last night sleeping in the Sudanese desert, it was fun for sure! Tomorrow will be back to latrine pits and bucket showers in Wadi Halfa :o)