Monday, May 12, 2008

Khartoum, Sudan - Will the real alien office please stand up!

Couldn't complete the tasks today. Yah, you heard me. I still have to get registered. I'm feeling a bit antsy because I must be at least 2 days over the deadline.

The retired professor, residing in the hotel, was nice enough to take me to the new registration office (as directed by the security officer at the "old" office) this morning. The "new" office (quite the distance from Souq al-Arabi), turned out to be another dead end, another "old" office. I couldn't believe it. Apparently, the most recent reincarnation of the office was sighted near the US embassy. Ahhhhhhhh!!! Nooooooo!!! According to my map, it was 1 or 2 miles away from the hotel!!! Damn. I couldn't believe it... (I will take care of it tomorrow...I promise...)

I thought the professor said he was going to wait for me while I was in bogus Office #2. I came out and realized he'd taken off with the taxi. There must have been misunderstanding, but I waited a half hour for him to return. There's one characteristic that I've observed about Sudanese: they have very short attention spans. If it weren't for the shade trees lining the road, I would have burnt to a crisp... I gave up (again) and took an expensive minibus ride over to the Train Station/Ferry Ticket Office.

The Train Station was huge. Ironically, this cavernous building served the one active train route in the country: here to Wadi Halfa on the shores of Lake Nasser. There must have been better times for train travel in Sudan. I was waiting in line for a train ticket for an hour before the que of about 30 people broke rank. Everyone ran for the front doors and around the building. The que reformed outside in front of another ticket window. I followed but I was just taken aback by the proceedings. Apparently, the first and second class just sold out (inside the station) and the rest of us slobs were now vying for hard seats in cattle class. Crap.

Consolation was that next to me in line was an interesting guy from Abri (town in the north). His name was Abdullah. Coincidently, Adullah worked in the oil fields for Talisman, an energy company whose headquarters are in Calgary (my hometown in Canada). He had good memories of working for them. Nowadays, he thinks the West is "total fucking shit" (his words) for forcing Talisman out of Sudan. He's on his way home, leaving "shitty" Khartoum. I understand your pain, my friend. As it turned out, he bought his ticket with mine and we'll be bench mates for the trip north. Good company...

After an hour in the hot sun, I got the train ticket (27 USD - for this Monday) and came back into the building to buy the boat ticket. Another 5 hour wait. There must have been at least 40 people ahead of me. Damn, the ticket sellers were slow. While in line I was surprised to meet an American guy. His name was Matt (from Vermont). There aren't many Americans in Sudan. We talked about his experiences here. Suffice to say, he was constantly explaining his personal position on Sudan as opposed to his government's. He's not taking the train to Wadi Halfa but I'll probably see him on the ferry, maybe, in a few days.

I managed to get 2nd Class "deck" seats on the ferry (44 USD). Any seat was OK, I guess. Damn, I'm just gonna be wasted by the end of this segment...

By the time I stepped out of the Station and into the heat of the late day sun, I felt cheated. 7 hours of my life I could not get back...

Out of Canuckistan: A travel blog, May 12/07
Buy Bubba a Beer Now!

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