Friday, 28 May 2010


Very excitingly, we have just had a storm here in Khartoum. Only a little rain but terrific thunder & lightning. The air smells wonderful now. 
I love storms!!!!
Wet roads & sheet lightning.
 The sky lit up. It's 10pm. Awesome!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

I'm in love...

... with Sudan, the Sudanese people and specifically my new friends.

Today, after procrastinating all weekend I forced myself out of the hotel and onto a local bus. I'd found out where I had to get off, but once downtown I was a bit misplaced. Despite that, over several texts and calls I reassured my Sudanese friends I was okay, at least I thought I had. It was really interesting wandering around downtown and I must return soon, earlier in the day, to take some photos. Finally, I arrived at my destination of the National museum, where I had planned to do some sketching of the pharaonic exhibits, seen previously  when  I went a couple of weekends ago. I did a warm-up sketch of an Egyptian pharaoh and had just started a 2nd sketch when my phone started going again - asking where am I etc. Shortly after two cars came to rescue me from the heat, and I guess myself. Both friends were very worried about me and had come to check I was okay and offer lifts home. I'm very sorry I worried them, but very, very flattered they care so much to come and check on me.  I went back into the museum to do a few more sketches. After drawing inside the museum, I went outside and did a quick painting of the statue. It was so hot I could hear the voices of my Sudanese friends in my head telling me not to be so stupid. In my defense I was sat in the shade of a tree. However, as I believe it was around 44c both the voices and my friends were probably right.

Last Saturday, the same friends, took me out sightseeing for the morning. I was picked up at 9am and the first stop was for breakfast of fried Nile fish and bread. Yum. Same place as I went on the kidnap. Then, we went to the Khalifa's house in Omdurman, which was really interesting, but frightfully hot. After the Khalifa's house we went and had tea served under Tutti bridge sitting on little stools on the bank of the Nile. Very cool views and breeze. I think I'm about done on Khartoum sightseeing for now, although I'd like to find the camel market one morning.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Gratitude Friday - fabulous trainees

My first two groups of Sudanese trainees finished their 8 week courses yesterday. It was a bitter-sweet time as they are all lovely people and I will miss them next week. It was sweet in that I have seen great improvement with some of them and feel I have been of help. Some of them I will see again as they have become friends, others I will see as there is to be a group outing next week, whilst others are in the same building, so I will still run into them.

Very embarrassingly both groups gave me gifts, and I was overwhelmed by the morning groups generosity.

Top: The gifts waiting to be opened. The statue, elephant and necklace are from the afternoon group.
Middle: receiving gifts from Fawzia after Sami's speech.
Bottom: Unwrapped (and discarded paper)

Again, I am thankful for the opportunity that brought me to this lovely country with such fantastic people.

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Lost Girls - a new travel memoir

I've just heard about a fab new travelogue, which is being launched in the next few days. The publisher's Harper Collins describe it like this:
Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner travel 60,000 miles around the world—from the mountains and jungles of South America to the beaches of Australia, passing through Kenya, India, Southeast Asia and New Zealand on their unconventional detour.  Along the way they form a lifelong sisterhood—the kind that only comes after sharing exotic illnesses, cockroach-infested trains, Maasai tribal initiation ceremonies, long-distance heartache, whirlwind romances, and everything in between. In the vein of Eat, Pray, Love, this exciting and inspiring memoir will speak to anyone who has ever felt a desire to stretch their wings, break out of their comfort zone, and discover the world.
I can't wait to read it, assuming I can get the review copy way from mum.  There's a youtube video here and more about the book The_Lost_Girls

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Late again - Gratitude Friday.

This is easy, I am very grateful for the opportunity that led me to come to Sudan and for all the wonderful people I have met here. I am the happiest I have been in years (sorry J, but it's the truth), so THANK YOU SUDAN. The only thing I could wish for would be another job here for September.

Last Saturday, I was taken out for the day by some of my trainees and their friends. The day was fantastic; so relaxing and with great company. We drove south of Khartoum about an hour to Jebal Aulia, where there's a small hill and a big dam. After watching people fish from the dam we drove along the White Nile and found a picnic site on the bankside. We had delicious fresh Nile fish after some of the best fruit I have tasted. After lunch we were joined by a couple more people and just chilled out, walked along the riverside, or took silly photos. Back in Khartoum a trip on the Nile was postponed as it was quite late, so we all went for ice-creams instead. A fantastic day - thank you all, especially Naji & Naseer for driving and Mahmoud, Hazim & Osman for arranging the trip.

Luckily for me, the Nile cruise was rearranged on a lovely afternoon when the air was clear (no dust or polution), a good temperature and with a nice breeze. I think we sailed along for about an hour, eating cream cakes on the way back whilst watching a beautiful sunset. The company and the location were both perfect. I am so lucky!

The Sudanese people, and my new firends, are the best people in the world, so I am very, very grateful to be here and to have them in my life. Thanks all of you.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Unusual nights out

The Nile.
It has been a very sociable week. Starting on Sunday, when I went to a nearby salon with Salma and joined in a Egyptian/Sudanese dance class. We only did Egyptian that night, but hopefully when/if I go again I will get to try Sudanese style. The doubt about returning is because I have missed the 2 subsequent classes, so it doesn't look promising.

On Tuesday, the first class I missed, I had a compulsory official dinner. I was invited to the Oil Club, which is situated beside the Nile, by the training centre I'm working for. A minibus picked up all the trainers including myself staying at the hotel and we arrived at the designated time (7:30), and had to sit in a meeting room, alone, as no-one else had arrived. With an Iraqi trainer I went to look at the Nile, which is when I took the picture above, then back to the waiting meeting room. Finally, some others arrived and we were moved to another meeting room. I know it's a Muslim country, but we were not served any refreshments. I thought I would die of thirst, okay not that bad but would have loved a water or juice. With a colleague, I had another walk around  then finally we were led to the roof and at 9pm had a barbeque/buffet style dinner, which was worth the wait.

Thursday, I could have made the class, but was too lazy to go as I was going out that evening with some trainees. I was picked up at the hotel and after picking up 2 others we were six in a Hilux Pickup. It was a little cosy, but was excellent fun as everyone could talk and joke together. We drove through downtown past the President's office aka the President's palace and on to North Khartoum via an old iron bridge that had been a gift from India, secondhand as, if I remember correctly, it was built by British in India. A slightly strange first stop was made at a furniture shop and some of it would rival that seen in Omani stores - enough said?! 

We then toured around town some more and ended up at the Khartoum International Fair site. We had been given bottles of water to drink in the furniture shop, but here we joined an outside 'organised party' and sat outside without anything. Note to self: must start carrying water around. Anyway, we sat on chairs to watch Subian (I understood they are from Addis Abba but Google can't confirm the tribe?) dancers. The style was very Africa - I'm very experienced having watched lots on tv :D - but was to very modern music. Great beat. This lady (below) saw me taking photos and, being near the front, I was subjected to the let's embarrass the foreigner  as she pulled me up from my chair to make me dance. My new friends had a great laugh as I rapidly sat down. I would love to get an mp3 file of Sami's laugh as it's awesome and would cheer up the most depressed person. Finally, the evening ended when we went for dinner at 11.30. I will never understand Sudanese meal times, so I'll post about that later.
Dancer (Subian?)at Khartoum Fair site