People, I freaking love Sudan. The people, the markets and the sweets are out of this world. Carla (one of my favorite riders, the one with the better blog, remember her?) is the most well-travelled person I know (80+ countries) and this is what she has to say about this lovely country:
The one travel question I get more than any other is “of all the countries you’ve been to which is your favourite”. I’ve never had an answer to that question, but I reckon it may now be Sudan.
Have I made my point yet? Ok moving on..
Watch out Japan, the people of Sudan LOVE having their pictures taken.
Friendly Manitoba has some competition (particularly in the form of a man galloping his camel as fast as he could across the desert to wave me down and invite me for tea)
I must say, I’ve had trouble grasping how such a hospitable culture can at the same time live with an ongoing genocide in Darfur (not to mention political instability with the recent secession of South Sudan). The people I’ve spoken with are “actually very sad” that the south separated. But why? Were they sad when the people of the south were getting murdered and displaced? Just how many Sudanese support al-Bashir and his actions in Darfur? Who are the Janjaweed? Are they among the men who’ve invited me for tea and pretended to be my boyfriends in their cell phone pictures? I had no one to whom I could pose these questions, until Leena.
She approached me at the mall in Khatoum (where every rider had gone to escape the heat/consume kilos of ice cream/get free wifi/gawk at boys in skinny jeans, girls without headscarves and couples holding hands under the table) to ask for help with her application to university. She had great English and was eager to talk about her favourite music (Justin Bieber, big f-ing surprise), tv shows (90210) and celebrities (Tom Cruise and Will Smith). Her parents are divorced and she lives with her mom (who supports the government though Leena doesn’t) but her dad is an anti-government political journalist. Now I was onto something. She invited me back to her house (of course) where we discussed politics, culture, media in Sudan and other girly things in her bedroom. We made an email AND Facebook account for her, but with the amount of yelling between her and her mom, with words like privacy and shameful flying back and forth, not too sure how long that will last. I worry we got her in major trouble though she kept reassuring us that everything was fine…O and the application she wanted help with? It was to the School of Government at Harvard. Amazing night with an amazing girl who I’m sure one day will change the world.
-o my god the heat. On the worst (or best?) day, I cycled 149 km in 54 degree heat. 41 “with the windchill” (aka still f-ing deadly hot) as us Canadians put it.
-there have been three more accidents though thankfully everyone is ok (the most seriously injured will be riding the truck for a few weeks with a separated shoulder)
-a few men had rocks thrown at them with some gestures that translated to “put some pants on!” which of course I find hilarious because I have yet to hear a complaint about us girls needing to cover up
-interacting with locals in the markets of Dongola and Khartoum has been a complete joy
Baby wipe showers are surprisingly effective and satisfying, even after 4 nights in the desert, 40+ degree days and 600 km of riding
The Challenge Ahead
-I am in the process of mentally preparing for the giant bugs that are preparing to crawl over my face every night
-protecting my lips, fingers and nose from the sun has become a full time
job, particularly as my malaria pills make me photo sensitive
-we are now entering the most challenging section (of 7) of the tour with rock throwing children, corrugated and muddy roads and plenty of mountains. My strategy is to just take things day by day, if not minute by minute!
As always, thank you all for your fantastic support!!!!