Sudan, a country of contradictions, hardship and big smiles.
Sudan is a country of contradictions, hardship and big smiles. After spending nearly a month in Egypt we crossed the border into Sudan. We did not know what to expect, but the preparations required to enter this country did not gave us welcoming feeling at all. A visa is $150 each, ATMs do not accept foreign bankcards and the country suffers from a fuel shortage due to war and a failing state. So after getting plenty of cash and stockpiling fuel in makeshift jerrycans we crossed the border in anticipation of what was to come in this war torn country..
From the moment we entered the country we where welcomed by warm genuine smiles of the Sudan people which accompanied us untill the day we left the country. Sudan turned out to be the safest instead of the most unsafe country so far. Sudan people are kind and gentile people who do not see white people as walking ATMs, which is nice for a change.
Also from a cultural perspective Sudan has a lot to offer. The powerful Nubian kings, the black pharaos, which even conquered the Egyptian empire have left many temples and annuities. And Khartoum, the Sudan modern capital has a lot to offer; from camel markets to religious dances and modern shopping malls. Though most of these things we did not visit.. because we kindda rushed through this country for two reasons.
One, it is wayyyyyy to hot! Even though it is winter the thermometer reaches every day over 40 degrees, and at night it cools down to 35.. This paralyzing heat made it for us not pleasant at all to walk through the cute towns or visit temples. Also driving around in a car without airco drains energy.
The second reason is the fuel shortage. Sudan is big, very big. Distances between destinations are long and in between there is often nothing but dessert. The few gas stations we would pass were often closed and if one is open the queue is easily a hundred cars longs. Which is so long that by the time it is our turn the fuel might already be finished. Therefore we decided to not take any detours and go for the most efficient route to Khartoum. (luckily the pyramids of Mereo where along the way and we visited these) We brought enough fuel from Egypt to reach the capital where the shortage was less severe
Oke maybe there is also a third reason. Sudan is a very strict Muslim country, alcohol is banned, shisha is illegal and even non-religious music is frowned upon. This is making the street life not very ‘gezellig’.
Because the country is safe and the people are kind we did do a lot of wild camping and we slept at some amazing spots. One night we made friends with the local farmers (by having tea together and sharing polaroid photos) and they helped us setting up camp near their fields on the Nile river banks. Other nights we slept in the dessert in the middle of nothingness. The one night we did sleep in a hotel, the owner invited us to join him for breakfast after he helped us getting fuel from the local police reserves. Sudanese people are awesome.
In Khartoum we stayed a couple of nights. Since this was the first proper city since Luxor we spend most of our time fixing practicalities. Like going to a supermarket, getting East Africa car insurance and finding some spare parts for the car (we forgot a crucial tool in the Netherlands which is needed to release the spare tire). We also enjoyed the Sufi dancing, a ritual carried out every Friday to honor the death with dance and music at the cemetery. Hundreds of people where chanting and dancing, making the cemetery one big dance floor!
After Khartoum we headed for Ethiopia. The closer we got to the border the more green and cool it became. After 4000km of dessert we finally passed the Sahara! The border crossing was smooth and simple and before us rose the green mountain of Ethiopia ready to be explored.