Last week began in a very sociable fashion with a blustery dinner in Souk Arabi with both The Hat and The Tedious Englishman. What a treat. The food was good anyway, even if the company was ferociously average (I jest). Lots of delicious ful and some sort of mysterious chopped meat and so on. Lovely.
A few days later, The Tedious Englishman and I found ourselves deep in the murky mists of Kalakla (a suburb of Khartoum which used to be its own town and is now just a peripheral mish-mash of the much bigger Khartoum shaped monster), which is even more south of Khartoum than where we live in Jebra. Trust me, that is really south. Stupidly south. Anyway, after staring at some weird jewellery shops for a while whilst a million people watched us, we eventually managed to locate Mr. SVP Coordinator who flagged down a rickshaw for us all. And it turned out he knew the driver - hello tasty prices.
A short drive took us from the centre of bustling stare-y Kalakla to the rubbish-strewn banks of the White Nile, where many a youth was busy socialising. We even saw what looked like two young Sudanese lovelies on a date - haraaaaaaaam. I don't know if it's just because I've been here for ages now (well, over four months) so I'm a little more used to it, but strangely, the rubbish didn't really seem to detract from the scenic-ness of the place too much. See for yo'self:
I decided to stay bankside and enjoy the view, as y'know, we were just in time for sunset after all. Not for long though, as a party of young Sudanese women came over to give me sweets and ask for my number (hello) and soon after, the chaps returned, smelling really, really weird. Like 'orrible Nile fish. It would appear that Nile water is a bit on the grim side, who would have thought?
On Saturday evening we got a call telling us to be ready at 8.15am the next morning as the Minister for Higher Education was coming to give a talk at our university. I should point out that we are currently in the routine of going to bed at 4am/5am and waking up around 3pm/4pm, since this allows us to get the best use out of the shoddy internet, and avoid the worst heat of the day. It is, therefore, complete balls to have to get up at 7.30am. All of which is really interesting I'm sure.
Anyway, we headed to the university like sweaty zombie-monsters and, after catching up with a few staff members, were led into a bizarre purple tent which had been erected in the middle of the main campus building. We took our seats at the head table, ate some of the delicious snacks that had been put out, and then realised we weren't meant to be sitting there at all. Awk.
The talk was long, entirely in Arabic and came complete with MORE THAN ONE video camera constantly panning across the room, sorry tent. We did get a free lunch though, so it wasn't all entirely ridiculous.
In other news, I headed over to the SVP flat in Souk Arabi in the middle of the week to meet some of the other volunteers for chitchats and such. Luckily for me, Mr. SVP Coordinator had come round with tasty hay for Jefferson, so was able to give me a lift on his motorbike. Unluckily for me, the air was essentially sand, which meant I had to close my eyes for most of the ride. Although I did manage to grin like a maniac at the guy with the horse on top of a big lorry that whizzed by us. Khartoum traffic is nuts.
I realise this picture doesn't really look that bad at all, but trust me, it was dusty and gloomy as anything out there. That really is a stupid expression isn't it? It was dusty and gloomy like a Khartoum summer evening, that's what it was dusty and gloomy like. I digress.
I'm pretty excited about the next two weeks for two important reasons. Numero uno - Mr. SVP Coordinator has found a place nearby to go horse riding (I love horses almost as much as Jefferson loves sitting on frozen strawberries) and The Tedious Englishman has never been, which means I can teach him equine-based nonsense such as, "Horses can smell fear and tediousness, and it makes them extremely aggressive and unpredictable".
The second reason is... my parents are coming to stay for a week! Tune in (...) in two weeks time to hear about emotional reunions and fun-filled activities with The Sunburnt Elders as I take them on a giddy jaunt around this mad dusty city. In preparation for such an occasion, I may even try and use the vacuum that someone earlier reminded me we have. And of course, teaching starts up again in a few days, so there is much to do. If only this heat made me want to do THINGS.
Oh, and just to keep track - we lost another soap to the Sudanese toilet last week. *Salutes*.
See you in two weeks,