July 16, 2024

What a day!

(10 November 2011)

We got up at 4h45 and left Gondar as soon as we could see. The road winded through a series of mountain passes until we were well below 1 000 m again. We read horror stories about the Metema / Gallabat border post. One couple took four days to get through, yet another group took only 35 minutes, so we again had to go and see for ourselves. Some people wrote about a customs office in Shehedi, 30 km before Metema and others said lunch at the border post is 12h00 to 15h00.

It great to be on the road this early for once:

Early start
We did well and reached Shehedi by 9h00, but everyone there was in a meeting and the guy issuing stamps in the street didn’t know anything about the Carnets. He said we must go to the border for customs. At the border we were swamped by money changers and fixers, but I said I want to go to customs first. The official was very friendly and helpful and asked whether I want to buy a slave (pointing at a scrawny guy in the office). I politely declined after which he explained that there are probably nowhere in the world where there are slaves anymore. He was very helpful and told me where to go next. I then changed money from a friendly guy whose friend wanted to be our guide. Since we didn’t have much money (and our budget is severely under pressure), and since I knew more or less where the three buildings was, I declined and told him where we are going: First immigration, then customs next door, then to security registration. He still walked with us anyways. Another, more calm guy, also joined and said he’s from Sudan.

After a quick visit to immigration we entered the customs cage, a large room only closed with diamond mesh on three sided. The police officer filled in four forms and the carnet counter foils. It took him more than an hour and we were getting anxious that security might go on lunch. Just as we through we’re done the officer said he’s going to lunch. We couldn’t believe it and decided to open a can of tuna as we were also hungry. Before we could get up though he gestured for us to join them for lunch. There were to police officers and two other random guys and we ate fresh bread, salad, chilly-paste, some tasty yellow maize dish and spaghetti-like dish. They first wasted our hands and we stood there eating together, breaking bread and picking up food with it. Chatting away, they in Arabic and we in Afrikaans and English. When they saw Tania liking the sweet sugary stuff thrown over the spaghetti the policeman ordered more to be brought and put it on a small table in front of Tania. This must have been the most amazing thing we’ve experienced on this trip!

After we were stuffed the guy filling out our forms went to lie on his arms in from of a TV screen (Wedding Crashers was one). We thought he’s just extending his lunch, but after about 15 minutes a Land Cruiser pulled in behind the building and he showed us to go there with our forms. We paid R45 each and were off. All the time we thought he was wasting our time on purpose, but he knew we had to wait for the official issuing the receipt and gave us lunch. He didn’t even tell us it was not his fault for keeping us. When we thanked them he just said: “Welcome to Sudan!”

About an hour after we’ve entered the cage the fixer said he wants to go and I must pay his commission. When we started the process I gave his 25 Birr (all I had left) for showing us the customs building and asked his price. When he said US$20, I literally chased him away which didn’t help. I explained this to him now and he left rather grumpily.

Unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos as this was the border and photography is banned in Sudan. We don’t know how serious they are about it, but don’t want to take chances.

We got photos a while later, when I ditched my Motomia for good and bought a bicycle to complete the journey. This is going to take some getting used to:

I haven’t done this in a while, but it like riding a bike…

Seriously, did you think I am going to leave my trusty Motomia in Sudan! No, we met three Capetonians that been at it for seven months. They are raising funds for cochlear implants and we had a great chat with them at a truck stop. We saw Imran in Gondar three days earlier, but couldn’t stop in the traffic and when we turned around to look for him he was gone. We were so happy to have met them! Check out their blog: www.siyashova.com. If you’re reading this, hope you found a good place to camp and all the best for the rest of the journey. You are legends ad we’ll see you back in Cape Town for a bottle of wine!

We stopped in Gedaref for the night and I have developed the worst sore throat and headache. It is also deep in the thirties, so we’re lying under the room cooking out!

We’ve only been in Sudan for a couple of hours, but already we feel safer and much more relaxed. The Sudanese really are amazing people and the landscape is much more open and flat. It’s great to finally be here.


4 thoughts on “What a day!

  1. Ek is so-oo bly julle het goed oor die grens gekom; en saam met die polisie gelunch! Dit wil gedoen wees. Hoop jou keel is gou beter Frannie. Lekker reis verder in Sudan. Luv. V1xx

  2. Ouboet jou karnalie – amper glo ek jou oor die fiets!! Baie dankbaar dat jul veilig en sonder gehik deur die grenspos gekom het. Hierdie ervaring is iets om te onthou nê? Hoop daai seerkeel herstel gou – drink maar betyds antibiotika ( jul het seker by julle). Voorspoed!

  3. Weer eens het julle ervaring verskil van die van ander reisigers – so het ons elkeen ons eie storie en raai wat? Ons skryf self die ‘script’! Julle twee is besig om ‘n ‘amazing’ storie te ‘skryf’ wat ons hier by die huis vasgenael hou voor ons rekenaars. Dankie! Voorspoed op die woestynpaaie en Fr, ek hoop jy kan die peste in die kiem smoor. XX

  4. Julle! Dis nog die weirdste post van julle trip – wacky-wacky! Maar dis mos die goete wat mens laat voel dis oukei om so ver vannie huis te wees en iewers kan ons “bond” met iemand wat voorheen heeltemal buite om verwysingsraamwerk was – MAGIC!!!
    F, Terwyl Tania die soetigheid geniet het, het jy dalk gom gesnuif? Hier in Pta net so ongelooflik warm dat ek wonder of die erie van Beijing af nie dalk ‘n verkeerde draai gemaak het nie. As julle nie weer van my hoor nie, weet net dat ek versmoor het (Beijing verkouevirus + droe hitte hier)

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