Monday, 28 June 2010

A Presidential tree?

After posting on Saturday I decided to walk off my blue mood. I wandered around the nearby souq (see photo above of food section) and mosque then weaved through the down town streets. Finding a tree that gave shade to rest under and a beautiful trunk to draw seemed the perfect solution to my mood. I leant against a wall and started to draw. I was relaxing nicely, when along came a police guard. I showed him what I was doing, uninterested he asked for my passport, which was not on me. So I gave him my driver's license, which he pretended to read as I'm sure he couldn't read English. Then, he told me I could not stay there, even drawing a tree. He had a fair point as the wall I was leaning against both is for the Republican museum and the Presidential Palace. Shame though as I think it would have been a good sketch when finished. (see right)

Trundling on, I reached Nile Street and it struck me how different the Nile looks from when I first arrived. The reason is the water level is now far higher since earlier in the month when the dams were opened  downstream to aid irrigation. After the disappointment of being moved on, I enjoyed my walk alongside the river, chatting to some interesting characters on route - I am trying to erase from memory the lewd security guard by one ministry and the man who was looking for a western wife. They were the exceptions to the normal friendly Sudanese that I have come to really like and respect. I finished the day feeling tired, having walked miles, emotionally wrung out, but happy and ready for a new week to begin.

BTW In case you are interested, my friend and I made up.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Gratitude Friday - Reasons to be cheerful

The last few days have been tough, for reasons I won't go into here, but I'm not alone. Di at Il Terrazo Italiano just posted the things that she loves in Italy, in order to get some perspective. Reading that, I remembered I haven't posted for gratitude Friday for a while and even though it's Saturday, it's still Friday somewhere. Check out the beautiful blog of Diana, who started GF, here.

1. I have a job, which finishes in 3 weeks, but which pays my mortgage. Okay that's not a good start as that's positive and negative. Must try harder...

2. I have friends both real and virtual who I know are there for me, if I ask for help. There are real friends here in Sudan I will miss so much when I leave and during that time when I don't know when I will return. More positive and negative oops.

3. I am in an amazing country, which is full of fantastic people, and I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work here. What's more, the difficult/strange has become familiar and easier here in Sudan as I wrote in an earlier post. That's only positive.

Bah, I can't do this today. The truth is that I'm feeling sad. I've angered a friend, which I deeply regret and am very sorry about. Whilst I want to go home and see my family and friends, I do not want to leave here. I am worried about finding another job. What was that line from an old Ian Drury song: Reasons to be cheerful, 1,2, 3...  I've done the 1,2, 3 and I am still not smiling this morning, sorry.

BTW: I took the beautiful sky back in March and it has not been photoshopped or retouch up in any way.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Where'd the city go??????

A sandstorm just rolled in with the dying moments of the England game. I looked out of the window as the final whistle went (yeah England are through) and the city had disappeared.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


...not me, but my blog, but then when you settle into life somewhere there is less to say. I may be in an exotic location, but my everyday life is just like most working people's... I get up, go to work, come home, do work at home/eat/watch tv and/or go out with friends. I go to the supermarket, although as I still live in a hotel it's for breakie stuff; muesli, and yoghurt; or for snacks, and I do laundry - alright just the hand-washing as the rest gets sent to the laundry (see here). I spend hours on-line and I spend time drawing. I laugh, I cry, I get frustrated and overjoyed.

The exotic becomes the norm. I love sitting on little stools under a bridge because it is slightly cooler there, sipping over-sweet mint tea, which has been served by a large lady with an even larger smile. The first time I sat there, I felt as if everyone was looking at me, the only Westerner, which they were, and I felt uncomfortable. Last weekend, sitting on the same stool for the third or fourth time, the chai-ladies now smile at me in recognition, people come over to my friend to ask him to help with translations, and I no longer feel embarrassed, but comfortable there.

Everyday life means the blog gets neglected, just like the old boat banked beside of the Nile, which I spotted last Saturday. Unlike the beached boat, the neglected blog means that I am settled here, I am happy with this life and, even though it's not Friday, I would like to say I am grateful for the normality.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Reality check

I love Sudan because of its people. They are the friendliest, kindest people I have ever met. I have made friends quickly, and believe they are real friends, as demonstrated the other weekend with their attempts to rescue me from both the heat and myself. Also, on several occasions whilst out walking, people have offer to share their meal with me. I can think of many, many examples of peoples kindness and friendship. As an expat, I also have a reasonable package which includes accommodation, food and laundry, so life is easy here, for me.

However, Sudan has its problems, not the least of which is the continued US sanctions that are still imposed here. There are many refugees, both Sudanese and from other countries. Down my street there are families living in cardboard shacks or within the shells of partially built buildings. What will happen when the rains come I dread to think. Unemployment is a big problem here. A friend told me that both his elder brothers are unemployed, his sister's husband works abroad and so he is supporting the whole family on his single salary. Working in my hotel there is a young Eritrean refugee, who cannot return to his country and family due to the military situation. He is highly educated, speaks perfect English, but the only work he can find here is as a waiter. He says that he suffers discrimination because of both his race and religion. With the low salary he has to pay rent and support his younger brother, who is also here but unable to find work. In respect of human rights infringements or the on going troubles in Darfur, I have no knowledge other than the contrary reports the media produces and I will leave them to those more knowledgeable than myself to comment on. I will only write about personal experience and observations.

This is not my normal type of post so why am I writing this? I am writing to remind myself how lucky I am. Sudan is a fantastic country, the people are amazing, to me. I do care about the problems and I would like to find a way I can help, even if it is in some small way, and I also feel guilty for how different my life is here compared to many others. BUT, and it is a big but, I can't help feeling happy and very, very fortunate to be here.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Paddling in the Nile

Paddling in the Nile, originally uploaded by travelingsuep.

This Saturday was a bit overcast and very humid after the storm, but I had a fabulous day out. I was picked up early by friends, then after another fabulous fish breakfast we went to Tutti island. There, the guys hired a boat to take us upriver to the Nile confluence. I think we were on the Nile about an hour. From the river you can see the difference in colour between the White & Blue Niles. On the way back we had a short delay when the propeller got entangled in a fishing net. which meant we got longer on the river and could take advantage of the breeze. Following a cup of chai from a Nile-side tea lady we drove to the otherside of the island to the "beach". People, including myself and my friends, paddled in the Nile, sat on the sand, and generally enjoyed the afternoon. It was all very relaxing, gentle and fantastic. I did the sketch above whilst the guys were praying and then added colour back at the hotel.

I am so happy here and so grateful that I was given the opportunity to come to Sudan that I don't know whether to thank God, Allah, or just good fortune that I am here. Maybe I have finally found the place I can be happy?