Saturday, December 31, 2005

There are Solutions to Most Problems!

The day before Christmas Eve I went with Alessandra, Silvia and Charlotte to Meroe and the pyramids to celebrate our christmas in the desert. I thought I would miss Sweden, but I didn't, at least not much, and we had a fantastic weekend exploring the pyramids, running barefoot in the sand dunes and riding camels. On the 24th Haidar and Annelise joined us with blinking santa hats and lime. Christmas eve was celebrated on the terasse overlooking the pyramids, with wine and crisps and dance. After having spoken to the whole family, and half of my relatives, my christmas was perfect, if not a bit unusual.

We also visited the town of Shendi (where we were recieved as queens), Musawwarat (ruins from the Kushit period), Naqa (more ruins) and the 6th cataract of the Nile (wonderful small place, but incredibly pain in the ass with assaulting locals from everywhere that wanted to help us with this or that and get money for it).

This is the country that has been called hell on earth. Here is todays worst humanitarian catasroph according to the UN. Thousands are dying every day of starvation, malaria, yellow fever, lack of fluid and dhiorrea. It's ugly and hot and dirty. I'm never clean, no matter how often I shower. My money are disappearing, so is my work contract. But I want to stay. I have wonderful friends here that take care of me when it's storming too much. I feel like a baby sister in the family and they want me to stay. Everything back in Sweden will still be there in a few months, so I feel that I'm in no hurry to get home just yet. My time here in Sudan is something that I have to take care of, for me and for my future. I know that it's not good to run away from your problems forever, but I feel that I've already come so far. I have learned things about myself that I didn't know before. I can take care of myself. I'm even pretty happy, after all.

But enough about feelings and boring stuff. Me, Charlotte and Alberto among others are going to a pool party in the Dutch Embassy. There are rumours saying that the police has gotten instructions of storming all parties on new year, even those with foreigners, so I believe it's best to stick to the diplomat parties (no matter how boring that sounds).

I've been a bit sick lately, with some mysterious infection in my blood. I'm on my second round of antibiotics now, and I feel a bit better now even though I'm still tired. I'm just happy that I haven't gotten malaria yet, which is some miracle considering that I'm bad at spraying myself and always comes home with 20 mosquito bites at night. Maybe it's just the kind mosquitoes that likes me?

Pssst. I braided my hair. So if the Sudanis didn't love me before, they definitely do now! Everyone want to touch it, points at my hair and my nose ring and call me "Sudani! Sudani!". And I smile and reply: "Aywa, khawajia sudani!" and then they laugh like crazy and loves me even more ; ) The man inte the internet café has told his whole family about me and is literally demanding a photo of me so that he can show his nieces. The alternative is to go with him home and say hi to his wife and kids. I don't know though... it feels like I have enough sudanese friends at the moment. My hands are full all the time, always something to do, someone to meet!

Quotation of the week: "Coffee machines are sexual objects." Silvia about the capuccino machine.

Latest purchase:
Microphone to my MD. A yellow maxi skirt. A knife.

The lack of money, that my card reader to the camera is broken, boys and the future.

Newest aquintances:
My collegue Khalid and his friend Hani (isn't that a cute name?!).

1)I'll get a new sibling! 2)I will get my package from Sweden, whenever Mr. Björn decides to come back to wonderful Khartoum. 3)The chaos will be GONE! 4)I want to get out in the field. Rather Juba!

: When Alessandra's camel started to run and she was jumping up and down, new internal jokes from the desert, to whisper to Sudanese friends that "that woman" (pointing at a friend) "is not married!", that an aid worker in Somalia got eaten by a crocodile.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sudanese Christmas

Is it really christmas? It's had to even imagine cold here in Sudan. Sure, it's winter here too, but not exactily anything compared to the Swedish one.

The week has been calm. I've been in the office and started my English course for the local staff. I guess it's going pretty well considering I have no experiencing in how to plan and set up classes for grown ups. Maybe I'm simply a natural! ; ) My boss was actually very impressed when he glanced through my notes, so I suppose I should be happy with that.

For those of you who are still worried about the situation here: everything is fine and it seems like things have calmed down. I don't even think they're bugging my phone anymore. So, don't worry - be happy!

I don't have anything special planned for christmas. I had a thought of traveling abroad, but I don't have anough money for that at the moment. So instead me, Alessandra, her sister SIlvia and Charlott will go for a two day trip to the pyramids in Meroe. So while you're sitting and watching Disney shown on Christmas Eve, I'll probably be gazing at the African sunset behind the old Kushit capital, or maybe I'm on a camel back, flying through the sand dunes of Sahara.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Chaos, Persecution and Mine Clearance

This past week has been eventful, to say the least. I'll try to make a very long story short. Let's start from last Wednesday:

Woke up and was ill, fever and pain everywhere. I stayed in bed until my employer's daughter got home from school, helped her with homework and waited for the employer to come home. Things have been tense between us lately. We have different thoughts and ideas about things that are important to agree on when you have a more or less depressed 14 year old to take care of. He's focusing on her school results while I try to make her feel better. I have been the only one she talks about everything to and we have gotten very close, which has lead to that her father has gotten jealous (my own choice of word).

So, he got home and first asked if I had had any problems with the police or military. I said no, because I hadn't. Then he asked if I had been persecuted, threatened or assaulted. Then I said no too, because I haven't. He then said that the security police (the men in light blue military uniforms, kalashnikows and evil looks that do what they want with whoever they want) had been to the office and asked things about me, who I am, what I'm doing here and so on. If I hadn't been under the protection of the Red Cross they would guaranteedly bring me in, but since the organization has some kind of immunity, they didn't.

They know who I am, where I go during the days and who I'm hanging out with. I have no idea why they're interested in me. Maybe because I have Sudanese friends (and Sudanese people shouldn't mix with westerners, for God knows what kinda ideas they would get then!) or because I've said something they don't like in the street. Somebody calmed me down and said that they seem to do some random check up on all foreigners, but it's scary anyways. I have the Sudanese version of the KGB tailing me! But on the other hand, maybe I should feel honored. I mean... how many of you have been trailed and bugged in a police state? ; )

After that conversation I got fired. He said that things doesn't work out, which he was absolutely right about, but i regret that I didn't have the time to say "I quit!" before he did. I packed my stuff, got picked up by Haidar and moved over to La Familia. And there I was alone (everyone else in the house was out in the field), without money, no valid visa, no work permit, no stay permit and no work. I wanted to stay, but the only things I had was fever and a ticket to Stockholm. What shall Maria do now?!

I got my thumb out and made a last huge effort, polished my CV and pride and went to the DCA (Danish Church Aid) where, thanks to my dear Lennart, had some contacts that I've previously been too proud to contact. I didn't want to get a job with help from someone from home, but there I was. I met John Shearer, that had to act like my therapist for a while. He contacted the organizations PM who was currently in Nuba but agreed to meet me the next night before he left to someplace else.

I was still a little ill and got a gum inflammation which kept me alert the whole time (thanks for that) and decided that a couple of beers would probably heal me, so again, I went to a UN-party.

Went to DCA to meet the PM, Bob, who (halleluljah!) offered me a short term payed job in the office while the English speaking personell were out of country for christmas. He also asked me to think of if I would be interested in going on Mine Clearence Training. And I was like "OH MY GOOOD! OF COURCE!". I mean, it can't be much more humanitarian to clear mines?

The tooth kept me awake whole night and when morning came i was grumpy and tired, got dumped (well almost) for the first time in my life and took a raksha home to continue being grumpy. I slept a few hours before Björn finally got home from Zanzibar. One more hour without releasing my hysteria and I had... uhm... probably have done something bad.

And now?
Well, I have a room in the house with La Famila, I can afford to pay for it and work for at least another month. My gum is slowly healing, but instead I suspect that I've got a throat infection.
Today I went to the DCA and I'm now waiting for the big OK from Copenhagen so that I can start working. I will not have much to do in the office really. My main task is to teach English to the local staff and help with whatever office duties there is.

Right now everything is a bit crazy and I have mixed feelings about everything. I'm happy that i got the job and can stay for a while longer.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Maria - The World 1-0

I'm a wild one! The two past weeks has been party, party and party. That's not why I came to Sudan! But what to do when there is nothing else to do? I'm starting to get sick of this thing with the job with AHA and Swera. They say they're still negotiating about my possible future employment, but if I haven't heard anything else about it in a week, then I'll start looking for something else. I just can't wait for too long. I'm thinking of going to Darfur or Juba in January or something like that if I can't find a payed job in Khartoum. I'd rather stay here and travel around a bit, but I'm prepared to take almost anything. One thing's for sure, I will not leave Sudan until I've had a job for at least a couple of months, so if you miss me you can always contact everyone you know in Khartoum and say that there is a really pretty, nice and competent Swedish girl who is just HUNGERING for new challenges! ; )

A few nights ago I was standing out in the street waiting for a raksha, when a taxi stopped and started to talk to me. I was too tired to care, but the more I think about it now, the more angry I get. I'm not married, but I've found it convenient to tell people that I am since most men respect a married woman more than if she's single. The conversation went something like this:

Taxi Driver: Hello, where are you going?
Me: To see friends
Taxi Driver: Okay, get in
He unlocks the door
Me: Thanks but I’m waiting for my friends
Taxi Driver: When are they coming?
Me: Any minute
Taxi Driver: I want to be your friend
Me: Thanks, but I’ve got enough friends
Taxi Driver: But you wouldn`t regret it!
Me: I’m sure, but no thanks
Taxi Driver: But why?
Me: Because I get these requests ten times every day by different guys
Taxi Driver: Really?!
Me: Yes
Taxi Driver: But I’m not like the other guys!
Me: Yeah, that’s what they always say
Taxi Driver: So are you going to see your boyfriend?
Me: No, I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m married.
Taxi Driver: No you’re not
Me: Yes I am. My husband lives right over there
Taxi Driver: Oh, but white women have many boyfriends even if they’re married
Me: Uhm… no…
Taxi Driver: Yes, I’ve seen it in the movies!
Me: Well, movies don’t always represent the reality.
Taxi Driver: Really???
And now he's genuinelly surprised
Me: Yes, really
Taxi Driver: But at parties you kiss other men!
Me: No…
Taxi Driver: No?
Me: No
Taxi Driver: Oh.. so if you’re married…
Me: …you stick to your husband
Taxi Driver: But you’re not married
Me: Yes I am, he lives right over there
Taxi Driver: Why are you not with him?
Me: Because I’m going to see friends
Taxi Driver: Boyfriends?
Me: No, I said I’m married
Taxi Driver: Oh
Me: Yeah, oh
Taxi Driver: Do you have kids?
Me: No, not yet
Taxi Driver: Not yet.. are you newly married?
Me: Yes
Taxi Driver: Ok… good bye
Me: Bye

And that was of course not the first time that I heard about Sudanese people's ideas about western women. In their eyes we are easy and will have sex with anyone, anytime, with or withou boyfriend/husband. But to have it thrown into my face like that and that he actually expected me to get into the car with him was just too much. Apparently there has been a little bit too many assault on western women in my area lately, mugging and rapes (which I nicely had to experience myself last week when three men blocked my way and started to get violent before I managed to slap one of them and get away from there). From now on, I'm not walking alone after midnight.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And Suddenly...

...Everything feels a little bit better! I've started to settle, once again. Things are going a bit better with my employer (but I still plan to leave the house as soon as I get a payed job) and thanks to the upcoming winter I don't die from heast exhaustion as soon as I leave the house.

And hey, I think I've managed to leave many problems behind me and be able to concentrate more on my life and my mission (saving the world and all that). I'm fine again so don't worry. I'm having a great time!

Last Thursday I drove a car in Khartoum for the first time and that was an experience I will not soon forgegt. In Sweden we have trafic rules, as in most other countries. But not in Sudan. The only rule they apply here is to honk and drive and hope for the best. Luckily there wasn't too much trafic on my virgin trip so me and my passengers made it out unharmed. We got to a big party in Khartoum II where we mingled for a while before the police came and stormed the place, took all the alcohol that was left (pleased with that I can only pressume...) and turned the music off. For a while we were locked in since the police were looking for any Sudanese, but nothing serious happened. The police usually leave foreigners out of it because they don't want to get mixed up in international business, but a Sudanese who gets caught with alcohol can probably look forward to a couple of nights in a not so nice prison. Luckily, my Sudanese friends made it out unharmed.

Me and Alberto were supposed to go to the pyramids last Friday, but that never happened. So instead, me, him and Alessandra went to Omdurman (the old Mahdi capital) to have a look at the whirling dervishes. Every Friday they gather in their mosque and leave from there to a big field where they play drums and recite "la illaha ilallah" (there is no God but God) until they reach trance. This trance is supposed to open up a your heart so that you can have direct contact with God. Some people flip out completely and whirls around and around and around until they almost fall down. Unlike most muslims, the sufi's are dressed in clear red, green and yellow, plus that most of them are wearing dreadlocks, which made me feel like being in some kind of rastafari festival where everyone was flying high. Since it was the first Friday of Ramadan, we were honored to see the sufi leader of Sudan at the gathering. He was a fun man dressed in a clownish hat in bright colours and bells.

We had our first inoficiall feminist meeting, which was interesting. We will have help from a juridics student and a gender professor, among others. Our first goal is to talk to a couple of the more liberal imams and ask them preach equality in the mosque. A sudanese man will take this on. I doubt that an imam would even talk about feminism/equality with a khawajia. Instead we will do it nice and easilly and promote everything that's about equality in the quran.

Except this, not much else has happened. Have mostly been hanging out with Alberto, drunk sweet tea with mint and smoked sheesha.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Eid Mubarak!

So, there's been some problems lately. I got some problems with my employer and have started to look for another job. Swera finally contacted me again and now I'm their volunteer liaison officer, but will probably be employed by AHA since Swera doesn't have any status in Sudan yet. AHA wanted me to come to Darfur with them, but I don't have that much freedom in the family where I love now and I doubt if my present employer would agree.

Ramadan is finally over and now people have started to eat and drink and do everything else "forbidden" again. Now is eid however, Sudan's mostly celebrated holiday, with parties and family gatherings and all happiness. A little bit like christmas really.

Björn, Alessandra, me and Alberto
I've been to a couple of souqs, a barbeque party and hung out with Björn, Alessandra and Alberto. Today we went to Souq Omdurman and tried to find Alberto a cheap bike, but it was too expensive. Instead we went to Mograin Family Park where it was crowded with eid-celebrating people. We enjoyed watching people and then went back home.

I've been missing Sweden a lot lately, probably because of all the shit going on with my employer and all. A couple of days I was really close to rebook my flight ticket and come back home, but I luckily changed my mind. I mean... what do I have to do in Sweden in the middle of winter when i can be in Africa, get experiences, hang out with loads of wonderful and interesting people and "enjoy" the killing rays of the sun. So, even though things feel like crap at the moment, I believe I will stay for a while longer. Especially if I get that job with the AHA.

The ghosts in the house has stopped harassing me. They're still there, but the poking has stopped. Maybe my craziness is going away : )

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ghosts and Mysteries.

Ok, I've been alone in the big horrible house for two weeks now and I'm guessing it's starting to affect me. I was reading a horror novel (duh...) when the electricity went out and I heard wierd noises and saw strange shadows everywhere. I've hardly slept at all this past week! A few days ago I first woke up by our maid had opened the bedroom door and was standing there looking at me, I waved at her, turned around and went back to sleep. Later I found out that she apparently hadn't even been in the house that day! The day after I woke up when something invisible was poking at me. So, either this house is haunted or I'm going crazy. No one else seems to believe me. I told Björn and Alessandra about the events and they offered me a bed to sleep in in their house until my employer and his daughter gets back. I'm thinking of accepting since I doubt if I can spend one more night listening for ghosts!

Except for the ghosts I once woke up by the bed was shaking. I tried to be logical and thought that it must have been a minor earth quake, but no one else seems to have noticed it...

Later that day I went to an internet café close by. When I came out of there I saw that the whole horizon was filled with thick black smoke. A gentleman said that it must be a gass station on fire. I crossed the first lane of the big road and stood there watching the spectacle, all the wile standing in the middle of two lanes. Normally one usually looks the way were the cars comes from when crossing a street, but this day I learned to look at all possible and impossible directions before crossing. I was half a meter of being hit by a bus that was driving in the oposite direction. And they got angry with me! With my dear death experience I went home to my ghosts.

Winter is getting close and it's actually quite comfortable at night (only like 30 degrees). Can you imagine that I actually freeze when it's below 25?! If it had been 25 degrees in my bedroom home in Sweden I would have been close to dying from the heat. It's amazing how the body can adapt.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Evening Breakfast and Every day Life

A couple of days ago I was invited to Shabia in North Khartoum where Swedish Cecce lives. It was nice to get away from the city and to see some greeneries for once. She showed me around at the Univeristy and I met a few new people. Then we took a welk down to the Nile before we went to her Sudanese family to have my very first Ramadan breakfast. I can't really understand how they manage to fast during the days, but obviously they're doing pretty well even though they get slow and lazy and blames it all on Ramadan! The word "ramida" means something like "extreme heat" and during Ramadan you will burn away your sins. I have begun to think that maybe they have a point there, I mean, this heat is NOT normal.

It's sad that I didn't get the chance to meet Cecce until now, because her and me are pretty much aloke. I have a great time with her and it already feels like we've been friends for a long time. On Thursday she's going back to Sweden (Please Cecce, come back soon!).

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Ramadan Kareem!

Day four of Ramadan, which is a muslim monthly holiday for those of you who didn't know. Everyone is fasting between sunup and sundown, meaning no drink, no food, nothing to buy and nothing to do . As a khawajia (westerner) the rules don't really apply to you, but it's very rude to drink or eat among fasting people until the sun set.

Yesterday me and Björn went to Suq es-Shabi, a market not too far from where I live. It was pretty frustrating because you heard a "Welcome!", "kssss kssss" and/or finger snappings ever five meter you went. But Björn was fun so it was fun anyways. I god hold of a couple of nice tunics too.

There are more Swedes here than I had thought there would be. I mostly hang out with Björn, but also with Cecilia, Ida, Linn and Cecce. It's nice to speak Swedish now and then and to be able to talk about people behind their back without them understanding (yes, I know I'm a bad person, but one has to take pleasure in the small things in the every day life).

My report in Transit, P3, has been moved to October 24th.

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Important Me

It's been an eventful week. First of all I can annouce that I got a job. All by myself! By coincidence I ended up on SWERA's (Swedish Refugee Aid) homepage. When I lived in Lund, southern Sweden, I was supposed to help them to start a refugee group, but it never happened. Anyways, on their webpage it said that they have a cooperation with AHA (African Humanitarian Action) here in Sudan. So, I wrote an email with CV, intriduced myself and asked if they possibly needed any help with anything here in Khartoum, and a couple of days later I got a reply from the general secretary saying that they could really use my help.

I think I'm menat to monitor the IDP's (Internally Displaced Persons) return to the Southern Sudan, be their liaison between SWERA and AHA, go to meetings and write reports. They don't have an office here but from what I gather I will be their only representant in the country. In one or two weeks I will get more information about what I will do. I met a woman from SIDA, went to a few Norwegian organizations and will go with them to one of the IDP camps outside of Khartoum as soon as I get a travel permit.

PS. I think I'll be on Transit in P3 on October 7, so keep your ears open! DS

Friday, September 23, 2005

Heat Blisters

Ok, so I've been in Sudan for a month now. Today me and French Charlotte went shopping in Souq Omdurman, a market in the old part of Khartoum. We were lucky and met two Sudanese boys that followed us through the market and managed to give us better prices. They were really nice and it was nice to see that there actually are male Sudanese that are all normal without having a hidden agenda. I was sweating like a pig for four hours under a burning sun, crowding and the stench of garbage, excrement and God knows what else. When I got home I had water filled heat blisters all over my body. That wasn't too fun, but at least I gained a new experience!

I met three more Swedish girls; Cecilia, Ida and Linn. A couple of days ago we went to a women's café and watched traditional sudanese wedding dancing. It's great to see that the muslim women can move in such an... exotic way, when the men aren't around! Next Thursday I think I'm going with the girls to a big wedding, so I'm hoping to see more of what a Sudanese wedding is like then.

The Sudanese people are very kind, but they often go from one extreme to another. If you for example order an orange juice and it's too sweet (like most of the things are here, the Sudanese LOVES sugar!) then you will get a juice with no sugar at all next time. If I ask our cook to make a little less rice until next time, then she stops cooking rice completely. If you ask someone to help you with something, then they suddenly want to help you with everything.

Despite of everything, I'm liking it here. As soon as you got a small group of friends it's more than ok. I mean, there are way too much that is bad in this country (the heat, the dust, policemenwith automatic guns everywhere, starvation, illness, poverty etc), but it definitely has it's charms. People here have gone through so much and from the deepest parts of my heart I admire their ability to still be able to smile. I hope that you, back home, are smiling too, because you certainly have a reason to! Yalla!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fruitless Crocodile Hunting

Yesterday I got my first Sudanese love declaration from a guy that was really really embarrassed and was blushing the whole time. "I fell in love with you - did you fall in love with me?". Before that, our only communicating was a few polite greetings, all over and done in a couple of minutes. Then he gave me a package of cookies. Hm... Oh well, I've started to plan for small trips I'd like to go to in the nextcoming few months. I'll definitely go camping in the desert, by the pyramids and go to Port Sudan and scuba dive.

I went crocodile hunting (with my camera, not something sharp) a few days ago, but I didn't see any and got really disappointed. Thinking of going to Tutti Island and make a new search as soon as I get my photo permission. Everything runs veeeeeery slowly here. A lot of talk and too little action. The Sudanese appears to want as little responsibility as possible, and if they get a task it will take ages until something happens, if anything happens at all. But at least they're nice : )

Transit in P3 (Travel program in a major Swedish radio channel) got in touch and want me in one of their programs. It's ramadan in a month or so and I said that I'm thinking fo making a short report then, so keep your eyes and ears open!


Thursday, September 8, 2005

Powerlessness and Hibiscus Jiuce!

I got a friend! A sudanese friend! Her name is Shayma'a and will probably be my local link to the arab world here. I met her and her friend last week and had Sudanese juice with hibiscus. Strange but nice.

Everythin runs smoothly here, however slowly. We have a full time employed electrician in the house since the electricity is not something to trust. Got to sleep without AC last night again, but that went ok since we've had a few "cool" days when it's only been around 35 degrees. Thank god I got a membership at the Grand Hotel Villa, which probably is the closest you can get to luxury in Sudan at this time. They have a big swimming pool, parasolls, sun chairs and food and drinks that are more than way over priced. I suspect this will be my refuge from now on. It's nice to get away from the dust, the hordes of people and the heat from time to time, although I'm starting to get used to is. A little. I'm still sweating rivers, but it would have been wierd if I didn't. In Sudan it's as common to be shiny with sweat as it is to have a running nose in winter-Sweden.

I've been a criminal too! A couple of days ago, me and Mathew (my employer) went to this China restaurant that serves "special tea". This special tea happens to be BEER! And let me tell you, it was probably one of the best beers I've ever had.

Reality is starting to come back to me down here. A couple of days ago I found out that the house opposite to ours is used as an "questioning building", where the military tries to get information from people with the use of unpleasant methods. Most people call it torture. I almost feel bad for coming from Sweden. We have it so good back home and you realize it first when you've seen what reality is for other people around the world. If you report your wallet to be stolen (as a western person at least), they will most likely grab an innocent Sudanese on the street and beat him for hours just to report that someone has been punished for the crime, although most likely not the right person (but you'd do best in not mentioning that. In fact, don't report your wallet stolen at all, if you can help it).

There are still slave camps in Sudan, where women and children are forced to hard labour without payment. There are thousands of political refugees that are tortured every day. And we see all that back home in Sweden, on TV and in newspapers. We hear of eye witness testimonials and stories, about how rape is used as a weapon during the war, about young men who was forced to rape his mother. We know all this, but it never really gets to us. It's nice there, in the soca, when we're eating crisps and watch the news. We see when people starve and die from dhiorréa and say "this is so sad...", but we never realize how fucking sad it really is. How can we sit there and eat crisps while people have their hands cut off, gets stoned to death, starvs or dies of thirst? How can we not get more affected of what we see on TV?

I feel bad. For being Swedish and "rich" (although God knows I'm not). Every day I have to ignore someone who reach out his hand for monay, every day I have to turn my face away from someone that I can't help. And in the building opposite to ours, people are being tortured.

And can you belive that all the competent people has goon to USA to help the poor americans that got struck by hurricane Katrina?! A few western people die in a natural disaster while thousans are starving every day, and who gets prioritized? Not the children with pointy ribs, flies in their eyes and swollen bellies. Kuwait gave half a billion dollars to USA, an amount of money that could have built this country up from scratch. But who cares about Sudan? Or Nigeria? "But" says someone, "it's not the same thing!".

In a few days the new government will be announced, which is supposed to be a mix between the ruling NCP and the former rebels. Many says that NPC agreed to give the rebels power just to end the fightings, but that they will never keep their part of the deal. If this is true, I believe we can count on more disturbances in the country and that the peace agreement will no longer be.

Thursday, September 1, 2005


I've now been in Khartoum for exactily one week. When we landed, minutes before midnigt, it was closer to 40 degrees celcius outside so I got a tiny chock when we stepped out of the plane. When we got to the house, our aidconditioning broke, so there was I, trying to suffer through a night in the insufferable heat. Luckily I was tired from the journey and managed to fall asleep after a while anyways. Despite of the 40-45 degrees in the shadow, it just found out that this is the start of the Sudanese winter. Yeay.

Khartoum is more poor than I first had thought and although we live in one of the most "presticious" blocks in the city, this would still be classed as slum with Swedish standards. The electricity disappears wherever and whenever (along with the airconditioning of course), the roof is leaking when it's raining and when it finally rains the whole city will be flooded for 5-6 days which makes it more or less impossible to get anywhere at all by foot.

The city is big and most people here live under extremely simple conditions (without airconditioning!), but despite of everything they all, for some mystical reason, manage to keep their spirits upp. The Sudanese are among the nicest, warmest and hospitable people I've ever met.

As a white woman you get a lot of attention wherever you go. From women and men, grown ups and children, black and whites. I hade a whole army with Italian soldiers behind me the other day, people stops their cars to look at me, I've been paparazzied, called for, stared at and talked about basically every day. While writing this I have five Sudanese men talking about me and think that I don't understand that they do. But I've started to get used to it. Compared to many other places the attention I get here is mostly based on curiosity, so that doesn't really bother me anymore. And by the way, I'm an attention craving woman, so shouldn't I just enjoy it all while it lasts? ; )

We have two sisters from Ethiopia as maids and they're both wonderful. Only one of them speaks English, but I have learned that it's fully possible to communicate with gesticulations and body language. We have a HUGE black man as guard outside of the house too. His name is Ball and is really really shy. Apparently he comes from a tribe in Southern Sudan that are famous for being the tallest people on earth. I don't doubt it.

Today has been a muslim holiday, I can't remember what it's called, but I think it's today that the prophet Muhammed returned from Mekka and/or Medina. I haven't noticed much from the holiday or the celebration and most has been as usual. Five times a day there are callings for prayer, with a man reciting verses from the Quran up from a prayer tower that are scattered around the city. I like listening to it although I don't understand a word of what they're saying. It's peacefull.

Oh well, Khartoum is not a big city like any other. There is no luxury here. Not even the Hilton hotel is particulary nice. There is no real city center, no sky scrapers, no McDonald's (because of a blockade) or any other shopping chains. Everything here runs extremely slow. People don't get stressed up and do not try to fool you. A smile means nothing other than a mise and people are not being nice because they want something from you.

I'm in an internet café now but think I'll be going home now. I'll take a ride with a tuktuk (I believe they're called raksha here), for the sake of nostalgia : )