Introduction to Sudan

Water and Sand, trees and camels…..

Nothing in a hurry….

Life in Sudan moves at its own pace. The 3 common Arabic words (used in many arabic speaking lands) are very much the fabric and speed of life in Sudan:

Inshallah: “if God wills”. This is the reply given when the affirmative is not guaranteed. Be it a meal, a museum opening, beds available, guide on time, tourist office open… instead of YES, the reply is “if God wills”, leaving it to Divine Intervention!

Bokra: “tomorrow” (usually prefaced by the word: Momkim (perhaps/maybe). Again, not to disappoint or adamantly confirm a detail, the answer if “perhaps tomorrow”…. and in many cases tomorrow never comes!

This underlines the importance of holding “loosely” onto plans and itineraries, and having a large margin for flexibility, waiting time, delays…. and actually enjoying these times: as mostly this is where you meet the heart of the nation, and the connect with the real, wonderful people of Sudan.

Sand, sand and more sand….

One constant of life in Sudan is the sand! It is fine, powdery, gets everywhere and is central to the character of the country. The Sudanese love the desert, and their flowing clothes seem to be at one with the sand. The variety of browns, especially as the mild sun are sunrise and sunset seems to enhance the colors, is breathtaking. It is hot, dry, dusty, sandy…. so embrace this fact, and you can embrace the country!

Confluence of the Niles:

Khartoum: the place of the confluence of the “2 Niles”, know to locals as Al Mogran. From the East, is the Blue Nile, rushing down from the hills in Ethiopia, traditionally carrying the rich, dark silt that spilled out in Egypt’s Delta region and made it the Food Basket of the world….

And from the South, the White Nile, languidly making its way from Uganda. It is here that you can see the 2 rivers, different in size, color and character, merging to become The Nile, as it completes its journey through Egypt and finally sighs into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Date Palm tree:

As the Nile snakes its way along Sudan, alongside its muddied waters you will find a verdant, green line: some crops, mostly date palms, and then nothing but the brown, sandy desert. Palm trees are key in the Sudanese economy. Palms are considered worth their weight in gold: they provide dates, rich in fiber and a variety to goodies (which can be sold/eaten fresh, dried or processed), and raw materials for weaving mats and baskets, making rope and even roofing.  And of course providing shade for other plants, animals and humans: a wonderful place to sit and chat, drink tea and eat dates!

A well cared for palm can live for up to 100 years and is apparently from the grass family, and not actually a tree as we would understand it!

The Camel Market

Sudan’s largest camel market is the Daraw Camel Market as is on the 40 days Road, one of the greatest desert trade routes: slaves, animals, produce, spices….. These days it is the road is used mostly for camels, thousands of them, from Sudan to Egypt. Most camels are raised in the Dafur region and brought here for sale. Fridays apparently are the busiest days of the week for Camel trading.