Saturday, 20 March 2010

First impressions

Yesterday, I arrived in Khartoum after a mamouth journey as my original flight was cancelled at the departure gate due to sandstorms in Sudan. Despite the 24 hour journey, with most of the time spent either in Heathrow T1 or T4, I was still excited to land yesterday afternoon.
Below is the dust filled view from my apartment-style hotel room on arrival.
I was picked up early this morning to go to the training centre, seems ok, building only 10 years old but a bit run down, good facilities though. My line-managers seem very nice men and I'm looking forward to working with them. Actually, all the Sudanese I have come in contact with so far seem very friendly and helpful, from the staff in hotel to the rickshaw driver (above) who rescued me earlier, I'll expand on that in a moment.

This end of town seems quite chilled, but it is the weekend, so I'll see tomorrow. Sudan has a Friday/Saturday weekend. I went for my first walkabout this afternoon. As Khartoum is, mainly. laid out on a grid system I thought I would walk around in a large block. I was bit wary of taking photos, and am desperate to NOT take only the tradition rundown images of Africa that predominate blogs. The fruit on the stalls looks fabulous, and will buy some in a day or so, however the dates, compared to Oman, looked very dry and dusty. Before arriving, I had the stereotype of sand roads, despite it being the capital, so I did take a picture down a sidestreet to prove I was partially right as there are several non-tarmaced side-roads.

After walking about 2/3 ks along the main road I turned right at a large sideroad. Part way along I stopped for fresh oj, yum, then turned right again. I zigzagged a bit but basically heading the same direction. There are some awesome pimped up rickshaws, which I aim to get a collection of photos of. Anyway, I ended up in an area where the roads were not gridded, and I thought I had walked back further than I had gone. Asking a couple of people for directions had mixed results... all very helpful, but giving different directions, one even wanted to put me on a bus, in a direction I thought (correctly) was the wrong way. I caught a rickshaw, unpimped, who asked another driver directions gulp. After driving a short way we stopped at a hotel, not mine. We asked the security guards for directions (me with my hamsa wahed as couldn't say 15 in arabic, which is the name of my street), and a few minutes later we arrived at my hotel phew. 

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