Jun 28, 2005
My next stop is Karima. I found a massive Bedford truck heading that direction (2500 dinars) and hopped in the back.
When I looked at the map, I imagined that vehicles would follow the path of the Nile. I was wrong. The trucks take the shortest, most direct route, meaning that they cut through the desert. This route is listed as a highway on some maps..... but there isn't even a road! My truck just followed tire tracks, and we drove right into the middle of the Bayuda Desert.
The desert is hell on earth, made up of tan sand and dirt, with scattered black rocks. A few tired looking shrubs and trees somehow eke out an existence. The desert does vary a bit, but it's all variations on the same theme - sometimes there are lots of bushes; sometimes there are lots of black rocks; sometimes there is nothing but tan sand dunes.
How hot is it? It's hot enough that I cannot touch any of the metal surfaces on the truck without burning myself. Even the canvas sacks are hot enough to hurt a bit. The water in my water bottle is the temperature of very warm tea. I have covered myself from head to toe, both because it's a very conservative country, but also to keep the sun off me. While the truck is moving, the breeze keeps the heat surprisingly bearable. But when the truck stops, even for a moment, I become a puddle of sweat.
No one that I'm sharing the truck with speaks a word of English. I'm wondering how long it will take to arrive at Karima, but have no one to ask.
At 2 pm, we stop for a siesta. Then we keep going. At 6pm, we stop for a prayer break. At sunset, the soft light makes this hell on earth, almost beautiful. But we keep on driving.
At 9 pm, we stop at a small mud house in the desert. Someone hands me a plate of food. I don't know who paid for it, or if it was included in the ticket price. We've now been traveling for 9 hours. This is most certainly not the 6-hour truck ride that I had expected.
At 11pm we're still driving. Will this trip ever end??
At midnight we stop again. It seems that we're stopping for the night, so I pull out my plastic bag and sarong, and make camp. The night is surprisingly cold. At 5:45 am, we get back on the truck and start driving again.
I've mentioned this elsewhere, but it deserves mentioning again. I am a devoted follower of the cult of the sarong. It's almost like the towel from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," but instead of a towel, every real backpacker needs a sarong in his or her pack. During the day, I used my sarong to keep the sun off my arms. At night, I used it as a blanket to cover me. The morning was chilly, but with the wind rushing past us in the truck, the morning ride was downright freezing. And so I wrapped the sarong around my head as a turban to keep my head warm. Sarongs also make great skirts, towels, window curtains, and 1001 other uses. Do not travel without a sarong!
I'm now 18 hours into this 6-hour journey. Will it ever end??
At 7am, after 19 hours we finally arrive.
Unfortunately, yet again, I'm not where I'm supposed to be. We're in the wrong town. I get into a shared taxi to Merowe. Then I pass out for an hour in some woman's house. Then I catch a ride in the ferry across the Nile. Then I take yet another shared taxi to Karima. We cruise past 5 pyramids in the sand, and then finally, 24 hours into this 6-hour journey, arrive in Karima.
Karima is beautiful. It's green and lovely with palm trees along the Nile. But that's just a narrow strip along he shore. Five hundred feet from the Nile the green ends, and after that lies only endless desert, sand, rocks and nothingness.
There seems to be only one hotel in the town. Lonely Planet warned that it had no mattresses, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that some at least some of the beds now have mattresses. The prices were 2000 dinars for a room, or 300 for a bed.
I chose a bed. It was time for some sleep.
Leave a comment! I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading.
Amazing. I am always in awe of your ability to travel in the most inhospitable of climates (I have an aversion to heat). For the record, I do have a sarong. I have used it once. But I will not throw it away, because you have shown me its potential.
Wade - Jul 08, 2007
Haha, I laugh in appreciation about your praises for the sarong. I keep a seven foot cotton sash wrapped around my waist for similar purposes. I use it all day long!
Kelsey - Aug 06, 2007
Adam! I'll definitely check out a sarong before heading out next time...whenever that is. Shanda and I have been married 10 years so we're planning a trip somewhere sometime. Recommendations welcome! I remembered to check out your site because I ended up mentioning it to a UCSC alum from approx. our era who just started here at FileMaker - Tim Kolar. Glad you are well and love the site...it's my occasional armchair travel. :)
Donna - Sept 09, 2007
You are on the road to no where
You will decide where to.