(45) Our Khartoum capers….
Saturday 19th January – Tuesday 5th February
We spent days in shock as we just couldn’t believe Tim’s bike Winston had gone. Yousif called the police station everyday and kept the pressure on but they found nothing. We had to accept that it had gone. We recieved so many messages of support and felt so encouraged to keep going. At times, if we’re honest we thought about going home.
A message came from our friends the Bowyer family, saying that Andrew (who was our best man at our wedding) and Julian his brother were going to donate and put together a bike for us. We just needed to order some extra parts; we were overwhelmed by their generosity. Tim set about putting a list together of what we needed to buy which sent to Devon, along with what we had in storage. It was at this point we heard that Andrew was actually donating his brand-new touring bike frame and Rohloff back wheel, an incredibly generous offer. Julian spent time looking in our shed (brave man) and finally had all the pieces he needed. He drove from Bristol to Devon (200 miles round trip) espeically to do this for us. Alongside this Tina and David, their Mum and Dad offered to organise and fund the delivery of the bike – an incredible act of kindness. It was posted on Tuesday 6th January and we waited eagerly for it to arrive.
While we waited, we spent time with Yousif and Huda and enjoyed watching Kitty’s kittens open their eyes! Alyson and Aymen took us to see ‘The Whirling Dervishes.’ They are Sufi Muslims who wear colourful patchwork robes and dance to the beat of drums, twirling and stamping their feet until they go into a trance. They consider this dance a ritual from Islam’s earliest days, though it is generally considered in Sudan and abroad as a peculiar local Folklore. At the height of the dance, participants say that their souls communicate with Allah (God, in Arabic) and are cleansed of evil. The spell is only broken with the call to evening prayer. It is held every Friday (Islamic holy day) during sunset. It was quite mesmorising and enchanting.
Tim, Helen, Emily, Alyson and Sharon enjoying a cup of chai before the ceremony
During the ceremony
We also met Ali and Lizzie a lovely English couple riding the Tour d’Afrique. If you’re interested search it on google – it’s quite a journey. We spent a few hours with them and chatted about cycle touring in Africa over lunch. We would have loved to chat for much longer but they were leaving the next day – how could they escape Khartoum so easily?! They are amongst 50 other riders cycling from Cairo to Cape Town in just 4 months! The group have 2 mechanics, 2 cooks, a communications person and a huge truck to carry all their kit and spares in – we were highly jealous (but we do love carrying our own kit and our diet of tuna and pasta really…)
Ali and Lizzie
The support vehicle
You can follow their adventures at http://www.blazingsaddles2013.com
We also paid a visit to the National Museum of Sudan with our Scottish friend Neil. We had been trying to get to the museum for weeks but there was always something stopping us at the last minute, most noted was us turning up to find it was closed after walking for an hour to get there. It is well worth a visit of you ever find yourself in Khartoum – it cost 15 pence each to get in. The building was constructed in 1955, and established as the National Museum of Sudan in 1971. It contains the largest and most important archaeological collection in the country with exhibits from Sudan and Egypt. Among the exhibits displayed in the gardens surrounding the museum are two Egyptian temples which were relocated to Khartoum upon the flooding caused by Lake Nassar.
Two of our favourite artifacts!
We have now been in Khartoum for over 4 weeks which has mainly consisted of waiting for a parcel, riding the city to find various post offices, spending days looking for a map of Sudan, waiting for another parcel, fixing the bikes to then have one stolen, dealing with the police, putting together a list of things to be sent out, then waiting for the new bike to arrive. All this to be fitted between midday and 3pm due to the time difference of 3 hours and the ‘double weekend’ i.e.Friday, Saturday here and Saturday, Sunday at home.
During our time in Khartoum we have had many sleepless nights worrying about extending visas and the extra expense and time which has made it a real emotional rollercoaster – and then throw in the side- effects of Larium (our anti-malarial) which gives us bizarre dreams! On the flip-side having the kindness and generosity of our hosts and new friends, Khartoum has certainly been a cocktail of emotions. Tim regulary uses the analogy of 2 spiders trying to climb out of a sink – they just keep slipping back in! Thank goodness for the friends back home and the ones we made here who have kept us sane along an otherwise wobbly road.
The replacement bike finally arrived within 6 days- unfortunately it arrived with one part missing – a crank arm. We think it must have made its way out of a small hole which had been made in transit. Tim spent 5 hours searching for one with the help of Ayman who very kindly drove Tim around and translated into Arabic. He ended up having to buy 2 as the first one wasn’t quite suitable and when he found one in the next shop the owner would only sell it to him if he did not return the first one – this is due to it being seen as bad practice.
The new bike we have named Dolly
As mentioned in the previous post, for the last 2 weeks we have been staying with Simon and Amanda and their 2 sons, Joseph and Patrick. They have made us feel so welcome and we cannot thank them enough for letting us have the time and space we needed to organise ourselves. We have had many hours of fun playing games running around their huge house and garden screaming ‘you’re it’ and ‘found you’ – it was hard to seperate Tim from the boys at times! We are leaving in the morning and will be very sad to say goodbye but not forever we are sure!
Making friends in Khartoum
Tim, Simon, Amanda, Sharon
Patrick and Joseph
We are heading to the Ethiopian border and think it will take around 6 days to get there. We are looking forward to getting on the road after the extended time here but we are slightly concerned about how unfit we are with the looming Ethiopian mountains ahead (with this in mind, Tim mentioned he didn’t mind packing Sharon’s panniers :))
Thanks for reading!!!