From Kerma to Abri
Jul 04, 2005
In Khartoum, a fellow traveler had told me about the Bank Manager at Abri. He's a very nice guy who speaks good English, and loves to take in guests. If you're lucky, he might even take you crocodile hunting. At least that's what I'd been told.... so Abri is my next destination.
For the trip from Kerma to Abri, I find yet another small Toyota truck. This one is a very tight fit with 10 people including some on the roof, but then somehow we squeeze in two more.
I prefer the larger trucks as small trucks tend to go faster (not usually a good thing), and have worse drivers. This horribly overloaded truck heads down the dirt road. At every bump, the rear bumper hits the soft dirt throwing up massive clouds of insidious dust. This dust is then blown right back into the back of the truck, especially all over me.
With all of the dust, there is no way that I can take out my camera, and I miss some spectacular photos along the way. Instead, I just have the notes.
Traveling through villages, I got glimpses of the daily life. I see kids riding donkeys home from school. The standard houses around here are huge sprawling compounds, where the extended family must live.
We pass by numerous ruins, but it is hard to tell which ruins are new and what is ancient, as building techniques and architecture remained unchanged for centuries. Most of the buildings are made from homemade bricks, with lovely arches. Only in the last couple of years has the architecture changed. The brand new buildings tend to be squarish with metal pipes for ventilation.
The 6-hour trip somehow extends out to 9 and 1/2hours. My arm is bruised from constantly banging against the metal frame of the truck's covering. I've been through a number of bad voyages already over the past few weeks, but 8 hours into this trip, I've finally lost my sense of humor. I'm not having fun anymore.
When I finally arrive in Abri. I set off into town looking for a phone. My sense of humor starts returning. As I start walking, clouds of dust trail behind me every step. I looked exactly like pigpen from "Peanuts".
I call the number given to me and I get a hold of Mr. Saffe's son who gives me directions. The kid described it as a 5-minute walk to the house. Maybe that's the time it takes to drive. It took me almost 30 minutes, but I did eventually get there.
Mr. Saffe is, as described, a very nice guy. He invites me to stay as long as I like. Unfortunately, I'm in a bit of a hurry as my visa is starting to run out. I had enough time to have stayed for 2 nights, but sadly there are no trucks on Tuesday. I have to leave in the morning, which leaves no time for crocodile hunting.
After my shower, I'm offered some perfume to put on. Just a reminder, how important smelling good, even for me, is in the Arabic culture.
Let me end this journal entry with a couple of notes.
The tourist trail through Sudan is very small. In our talk over dinner Mr. Saffe tells me about a French guy walking around the world who had stayed with him. I already knew of the guy. There is even a link on my website to his.
LINK: Jean Beliveau
And finally, beware of the fucking sand flies. These tiny insects seem harmless. You don't feel them bite, but twelve hours later the bumps start itching, and keep itching for days. A couple of bites every day quickly adds up to being covered in horribly itchy bites. The Dutch woman that I met in Dongola was covered in dozens of bites and was miserable. After I saw the first one, I started sleeping under a mosquito net, and that was a good choice.
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