I behaved much better on Thursday by doing essentially nothing at all, except sleeping and wishing the ever-present traffic outside my window would just SHUT. UP. Things picked up again on Friday, when we encountered The Worst Amjad Driver Ever on the way to a party at the German ambassador’s house (la-di-dah). We put him on the phone with a Sudanese friend who told him, in Arabic, where it was we needed to go, and a price was agreed. All was going well. Then he insisted on driving at 0.3 mph. We were genuinely being over-taken by rickshaws.
The next hour or so consisted of him getting lost, shouting at us/our Sudanese friends on the phone, stopping the amjad and waving his hands around, before muttering things in Arabic and shouting some more. We were in the middle of nowhere and things were looking bleak. And then the amjad wouldn’t switch on again. Welcome to Broken Down Car Episode 3 of my Sudanese adventure so far. Everyone loves a bit of amjad-pushing in the dusty darkness before a party don’t they? No. Eventually, one of our friends drove and found us, yelled “EVERYONE, GET IN THE CAR”, and we were thus saved from the terrible wrath of The Worst Amjad Driver Ever. But not before he yelled some more, demanded more money and drew some stuff in the sand.
Thankfully, when we actually got to the party, everything was serene and lovely. It was held in the enormous flowery garden of the German ambassador’s house, complete with swimming pool, awesome Nile views and the most German looking security guards I’ve ever seen (think cheekbones and stern greetings). It’s almost like the guy has a really great job or something. He also had excellent glasses. Well done Mr. German Ambassador. After some interesting dancing, even more interesting drinks, and briefly meeting a chap who is apparently a famous singer in Eritrea (get in), the night ended with a passing randomer giving us a lift home for free. Isn’t Sudan full of very nice people?
I was just beginning to enjoy being part of my new gang, when one of them started repeatedly yelling “I WANT TO KISS YOU” and a tiny one pulled my hair. Nah-uh Gang Of Youths. Unacceptable. As ever in Sudan, as soon as a tiny bad thing happens, a good thing doesn’t seem to be too far behind. I only walked a little bit further before finding a friendly amjad driver who drove me for ages and only asked for 5SDG, which is hardly anything. A sweet deal in fact.
The last few days have been filled with devastatingly early mornings (I had to get up at 10am guys, twice in a row), in order to get to teacher training at Khartoum University. It was actually quite interesting. Over tea and biscuits, and three failed pens in a row on my part, Education Lady told us some of the history of the Sudanese learning English, and why many of them want to learn it now etc. before teaching us how to teach. So meta. We also got to sit in on a lesson and then explore Khartoum University Press, which is full of….books. In Arabic. No, I did not buy any. I did enjoy the book-based statue outside though, which is reminiscent of those outside the University Library in Cambridge, for any of you cool cats that have been there.
Since you’ve waded through all this nonsense so far, and have surely felt bored at least thrice along the way, here is a reward in the form of some fun facts:
- We definitely have cockroaches in the kitchen
- You can get apple flavoured toothpaste in Sudan. WHY?
- One of the volunteers genuinely has a huge blister on his finger from snapping his fingers too much at a wedding. Sudan: the land of finger snapping-based injuries.
You’re welcome. Next week’s drivel is likely to include some museum visits (for am I not a history graduate?) and possibly some more information on potential trips outside of Khartoum. Since I’m now all trained and shit, maybe I’ll even be able to start teaching at some point…
Until then - ma’asalaama everyone,