Zoltàn and I had to wait another two days until our tents were repaired for the onward journey to Ethiopia. The time in Khartoum was enormously eventful. In a small electronics store we met George, who recommended the tailor Nabil. They became good friends in the few days we spent in the capital.
George's family is originally from Syria. They are believing Protestants. Especially since the secession from South Sudan in 2011, her situation has not turned out to be the best. They still have a church here in Khartoum. However, many of them have been trying to build a new future abroad in recent years.
Nabil grew up in New York, graduated from college here in Khartoum, and has not returned since. He is a devout Muslim and avid cyclist. We spent a few hours together on the bike. Nabil showed us almost every corner of the city.
In the evening we sat for several hours at George's in the shop and philosophized about religions and world events. After our tents were repaired, we reluctantly left this great city and our two friends.
The traffic increased quite a bit on the way. This route serves as the main link between Port Sudan (the only port in the country on the Red Sea) and the rest of the country. One advantage, however, was the fact that almost every village has restaurants. The diet was thus secured. Since the temperatures climbed to almost 44 ° C during the day, we usually had a siesta to eat fool and omelette and to relax with a shai (tea).
If you want to get to know the people of the Sudan, you just have to sit in a cafeteria and talk to the people. Every day we had very interesting conversations with the people there and were invited to tea each time. We never had to pay for it. These cafeterias are always run by women. Slowly our Arabic is so good that we can talk relatively well with them.
As so often on my travels, I once again realized that Arabian hospitality is simply unbeatable. Sudan has definitely become dear to me in the short time. Only in Iran, Jordan and Turkey have I experienced a similar situation until now. The people on the roadside immediately stuck their thumbs up when they saw us. In the evening, my arm hurt most of the time. Too bad that the Sudan Visa is only valid for one month. I would like to have stayed longer.
Only one negative experience we had. In Wad Madani a bridge led over the Blue Nile. This should be the last time we see the Blue Nile again in Sudan. Only at Lake Tana in Ethiopia we would see him again. At the top of the bridge we took some pictures. Suddenly a policeman appeared and wanted to confiscate our cameras. In Khartoum there is a general photo ban. However, that this is not allowed here, we could not guess. After a long conversation, we deleted the pictures and got the cameras back. Taking a picture of the river is a bad thing!
The landscape changed rapidly. In the area around Gedaref farming is done in a very big way. For hundreds of kilometers you drive past huge fields. The region around the city is one of the most fertile Sudans, so sesame, sorghum, peanuts, gum arabic and sunflowers are grown both for local use and for export.
Artificial irrigation is not required for agricultural production as sufficient precipitation falls due to the proximity of the Ethiopian highlands. In addition, the mechanization of agriculture has been promoted since 1954, so that the high productivity, in addition to the good infrastructure, attracts investors and the region is regarded as the granary of Sudan.
Especially the fully loaded transporters impressed me. Now I know why there are no bridges and tunnels in this country. Not a single Sudanese vehicle would let through.
In addition to the traffic, the wind on the route from Wad Madani to Gedaref put us right. For the first time in Sudan, we did not have a tailwind anymore. This time we got the full load from the side. When a bus or truck drives past you at full speed, it feels like a punch. However, the desert landscape also slowly changed into steppe here. More and more trees and bushes appeared. A wonderful change after all the desert landscapes in Jordan, Egypt and North Sudan. The most beautiful campground on the route we found shortly after Gedaref directly below a mighty Baobab baobab.
Due to its appearance, several legends entwine around the baobab tree. After a widespread presentation in Africa, the devil tore the tree and then stuck it with the branches first in the ground, so that the roots now protrude into the air. According to another story, the tree at its creation wanted to be more beautiful than any other trees. But when he did not succeed, he stuck his head in the ground and the roots projected against the sky.
I like the third version almost best: When the hyena saw its own ugliness at the first sight of the mirroring water at the beginning of the world, she was very angry about it. She ripped off a baobab and hurled it to heaven to meet its creator, who had done this to her. However, the tree missed its target, fell back to earth, got stuck there in reverse ground and since then grows up with the roots. As the seat of gods and spirits, he also plays a role in a number of other African legends and legends.
The houses are no longer square with flat roof, as you can see from Turkey to Sudan, but around with a thatched roof. For the first time I really felt like arriving in Africa. Now only the elephants, lions and giraffes are missing. In the distance, more and more mountains came into sight. A sign that we were not far from the border. But even to Eritrea it is only a stone's throw from here.
From Ethiopia, I have not heard much good as far as cycling is concerned. Especially the kids throwing stones should not be friendly. So I looked back a bit sad at the time here in Sudan.
All the people who met us here welcomed us with open arms. We covered 1,400 kilometers in the last 30 days. I have seldom felt so comfortable in a country like this. The situation is not easy for most people right now. Nevertheless, they radiate an enormous zest for life.
Sudan faces a difficult future. I hope there is a way. I wholeheartedly wish the people of Sudan and I would like to thank the BAND OF BROTHERS and all the people who met us on the way many times.