SO. Much has happened, starting with a second (and this time, actually successful) attempt at visiting the Sudan Natural History Museum with one of The Lovely American Girls. The guy that had yelled "YOU'RE TOO LATE!" at us triumphantly the week before was there again, only this time I think he was just generally laughing at us, rather than our ill-informed knowledge of Sudanese museum opening-times, so that was a plus.
This was one of the stranger museums I've ever visited. The first room includes such treasures as not-quite-a-whole giraffe skeleton stuck on the wall, and of course, a fake elephant's skull. Continue on into the museum, and you'll find a 'skull of man' (missing the jaw...), some delicious jars of snakes, displays overflowing with stuffed birds, and a small stuffed marsupial with absolutely no information as to what it is and why it's there, in a room full of African animals. Interesting.
Outside, we found many live counterparts to the dead things inside, and some other surprises. A huge enclosure that was 90% hay, 10% tortoise for instance, and of course several snake enclosures where the glass was reassuringly slightly broken. Mmmmm safety.
Because we all came to Sudan just to look at shopping centres, we headed over to Afra Mall, which is similar to Waha but has expensive activity things like a cinema and...an ice skating rink. There we met a Sudanese friend who took us to the five star hotel next door for an amazing (and free) meal with The Omdurman Ladz, because 1) he's very nice, and 2) he knows someone who works there. YES.
Oh my word the food. I cannot tell you how good it is to have A SELECTION OF CHEESES HERE. Stilton, oh my. And STEAK. And at least 500 profiteroles. I highly recommend having three desserts at once, especially after you've just eaten loads. You will then definitely feel up to a long tour of a big shiny hotel. My favourite part was the mysterious 'Wall of Culture'. And all the free apples. Actually, it might have been when we were investigating the swimming pool, and saw that on the list of rules for using it, it said something about "fogging around the swimming pool" at a particular day at sunset. We had no idea what this meant. Our Sudanese friends had no idea what this meant. It was funny, but we were ready to let it go. NO. A gym instructor insisted on phoning up his manager for an explanation for us. JUST LET IT GO, IT'S OK.
I joined The Burri Collective back to their homeland, but then The Tedious (and somewhat inebriated) Englishman decided he needed A BAG OF EGGS (eggs literally come in bags here, it's weird every time), and, swinging said bag of eggs, managed to get us a lift to Bahri with yet more random Sudanese businessmen casually roaming the roads at night and picking up stray kawajas. I will never quite believe how ready strangers are here, to just drive you for ages, often in an inconvenient direction, just to chat to you and get you home.
I had to spend the next day packing up all of my things, ready to move out of Bahri, in the north of Khartoum, and into somewhere in the region of Al Sahafa, to the south of the city, about an hour by bus from downtown. Here's an almost-useful map for your viewing pleasure.
Aside from bureaucratic frustrations, which seem to be the norm here, and the constant questions of "Where do I actually live now?" and "How do I get ANYWHERE?", there have been some good things too. There is a pool table en route from the house to the main road, which attracts lots of the local YOUTH. We stopped for a game with them the other day, and I potted my first three shots, MMMMHMMMMMM SNAP. I'm hoping it will become our local, only without the booze, or the old grumpy men, or in fact, in a room of any kind. There was also an excellent moment the other day when I tried to buy 3 bananas, and the guys assumed I meant THREE HUGE BANANA TREES WORTH OF BANANAS. After he got the gist of my frantic gesturing, he gave me my bananas for free. What a champ.
I'm hoping this week will be a bit less WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING and a bit more I SEE THAT THIS IS HAPPENING, if you know what I mean. I'm going on a Nile cruise tomorrow with some pals (thank you British Embassy), so that should be a good start. Let the fun begin.