…continued from: Sudan I – The Uncomparable Insanity of Life
The beginning. Wait a minute. That says “Cairo” …”Egypt” up there, I thought this was a story about Sudan you’re thinking right now, “Why does that not say Sudan?”. Well, don’t leave yet, this is a story about Sudan, but lets face it, travelling to a country like Sudan entails just a little bit of pre-departure planning. I basically put it off until we hit Cairo, at which point we were starting our drive down the Nile. So the beginning is actually before the start of the story, the starting preparation point before the beginning of the journey. …but just a few points about the beginning before the actual start.
Sudanese Embassy, Cairo. All passports in, all paperwork filled out, all photos submitted, all lines crossed, all interviews completed. Ahhh. A couple of days and we should be good to go. We have six days in Cairo and were promised everything back in three. No worries. …five days later, the embassy asks for another $225.00 USD from the American. Me. Crap. “What’s that for?”, I ask. School tax, the large Nubian behind the counter exclaims. “School tax, how come only Americans have to pay school tax?”. Because Americans are the only one’s who bomb schools in Sudan, Nubia exclaims with a smirk, ok, with a full on smile and chuckle. Damn, that brings my visa fee to over $300.00 USD …by far the most I have ever paid for a visa …by far. OK, no way around this one. I hand over another two-twenty-five. Gulp. Crap. OK. We’ll pick up the visas tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes, no visas. We need to get going, stay on schedule. The ferry to Sudan, from Aswan to Wadi Halfa, leaves but once a week, and we do want to see some of Egypt. We’re not the only one’s having problems though, as evidenced by a few travellers arguing at the embassy. We end up leaving Ian in Cairo, the passports should be back tomorrow. We head out. Ian can take the train down to Luxor and meet us in a few days. …a few days later in Luxor, Ian is still waiting for the passports. No worries, we have a few days in Luxor. After three days waiting Ian finally has passports in hand, a full two weeks after submitting them. “Why such a delay?”, Ian asked Nubia. They actually sent all the passports down to Khartoum. Whaaaa? Ok, we have everything in check. As an American, I have to say that I really got my money’s worth, with two full-page stamps and a nice little colorful hologram stamp surrounded by eight ink stamps placed like a kindergartener went crazy at stamp-time. Ahhh, so cute. …I wonder how much food that could have bought a starving child in the country.
Everything good, another week and a half and we head to the ferry for Wadi Halfa. …not before meeting one of those arguing travellers though, from the embassy in Cairo, in Aswan. Apparently, the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo told her she had to come down to the Sudanese Embassy in Aswan. She took a flight from Cairo to Aswan two weeks ago. The Sudanese Embassy in Aswan told her she had to get a visa in Cairo. She took a flight back up to Cairo. The Sudanese Embassy in Cairo finally took her passport but told her to pick it up in Aswan. She took a flight back to Aswan. The Sudanese Embassy in Aswan was still waiting for her passport to get back from Khartoum …that suuucksss. Suffice it to say she didn’t make the ferry, and I have no idea if she ever made it to Sudan or not. I can only thank god I had backup and other people to help, with well-known businesses with contacts, otherwise, I’m not sure iff I would have ever got into the country. OK, almost there, headed to the ferry.
One, un-named, person starts venting on the way to the ferry …”thank god we’re out of Egypt, I’m ready to see animals, I wanna see the real Africa, enough of all this sand, I wanna see the tribes, the wildebeest, the real Africa” …ummm, dude, do you know where we’re going? This ain’t lions on the prairie type Africa, this is still Islam and lots of sand Africa. Ummm, we haven’t crossed the desert yet. He was a big drinker …uhhh, you do know that alcohol is illegal in Sudan, don’t you? Good times. This guy had no idea where he was going and no concept of how big the Sahara actually is. …and usually at this point I would just laugh, but honestly, he had NO idea where he was headed, and it wasn’t even funny. Well, maybe a little bit. This is gonna be fun.
The end of the beginning and the begining of the start of the trip, which is, inevitably, …the ferry ride from Aswan to Wadi Halfa. Everything is in place. The un-named guy ain’t happy, everyone has their passports and visas, Anna just broke her foot kicking the truck tire, it’s seven in the morning, the ferry is scheduled to leave at about nine, african time.
…to be continued.
Next Edition: Sudan III – African Time