Sudan…well Sudan didn’t really get our full attention, by this time we were in a kind of heat frenzy , thinking only of surviving the day, to be then further tormented at night twisting and turning on a sticky hot matrass untill dawn, only to be woken an hour later by yet more heat. We had obsessive dreams of cool Ethiopia…from 46 degrees to twenty six fantastically cool degrees, it was soon obvious we would be doing a transfer not a trip.In this short time the relaxed character of the Sudanese was immediately apparent, but we didn’t have time to explore, and so i can make very little comment.
The period was perhaps characterised most by the ship, sailing through Nile and lake Nasser to reach Wadi Halfa. We had been dreading the trip, first because we had to leave the truck on a little barge that would take much longer to arrive, and secondly because the ship ,made for a small quantity of passengers, was rumoured to be overcrowded with Sudanese refugees from Libia. The cabins were ten in all and sold five minutes after the ticket office opened…our quest was therefore to get a place outside under the lifeboats where there would be a breeze and the minimum of shade…inside, very eloquently named ‘ the Hole’ (the hall) although airconditioned was definately not a good option for western noses and for that matter western eyes, unused to such a mix of liquids and smells . Getting on to the boat was a long and rather nerve wrecking experience with hours of boring waiting punctuated with mad rushes and outrageous pushing almost to the standards of getingt into a Rolling stones concert (in the 70’s of course)….but we made it and triumphantly occupied our life boat. From here on things were calm, clammy but also enjoyable. The chance to absorb the scenes of endless loading (we left 8 hours after boarding) and to exchange a few words here and there with other passengers… always with an eye to defending ones territory from late comers. The night was long and hard for my bony hips, but i was somehow content and feeling dreamy under the warm stary sky imagining large Nile crocodiles in the folds of the water beside the ship, ….my biggest concern, the children had managed wonderfully with the whole ordeal, once again teaching me that their limits are more than anything dictated by my limits. They never once complained about the heat and saw it all as an adventure, sleeping soundly on our little Tunisian carpets….we had even managed an improvised hammoc under the lifeboats that kept the atmosphere festive. Travelling with children is not only possible, but highly rewarding , full of unexpected fun and moments of great satisfaction and contentment !!
Our obsessive dreams of Ethiopia have come true and i am happily writing from Lake Tana wearing…yes a little jumper….Sudan will hopefully be revisited at a future date in the right season , our short trip certainly didn’t do it justice!!