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 : )

No comments: