But ... do you know what we are keeping of the day? We had already been notified but today we have checked it in first person (and it is still the day DIA1), The Sudanese people not only show an extraordinary hospitality but have welcomed us with a smile, a lot of love and a certain impudence, nothing to do with what we know about its rulers.
Khartoum, capital of Sudan (and megalopolis)
Arriving at dawn in Sudan does not allow you to draw too many conclusions from where you are. Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, is a a relatively modern city located where the Blue Nile and the White Nile meet (of which we met something in the Murchison Falls of Uganda). It was not always like that since until 1821 it was only a small river port. Today, together with Khartoum North and Omdurman, on the other side of the Nile, they form a chaotic megalopolis of more than 8 million inhabitants that is perceived as they pick us up to approach the office of which our agency will be these days.
It's time to explain a little more about the "Expedition Pobes", name we have chosen among all for this adventure. It was there by February 2018 when the inciter of all this, David Pobes, raised to us some close friends of the group that made pineapple in Botswana, the possibility of "returning" to Sudan thanks to the friendship that binds him to Ahmed, the dear owner of Raidan Travel Tours and also to design it to our liking (an extra night in Meroe, some visits to schools, ...). And I say "come back" because Noe and David were already in love with this country and its people a couple of years ago. And who isRaidan Travel Tours? How I said yesterday at flight day, is one of the 3 receptive local agencies of Sudan operating since 2004. They will be in charge of providing us with 3 4 × 4 vehicles with AC, the guide, a cook and all the necessary equipment (shops, blankets, tables, chairs, cooker, thermos, dishes, mineral water, medicines, ...) as well as change, at 54 SDG per EUR (4 years ago it was 5 SDG), so we barely changed 100 EUR (what am I going to spend if we can't drink beer?). We put the rest of the team ... are you ready?
He Plan of the day is to know more deeply the nerve center of the country which houses the most important pieces of what we are going to see and, possibly, it is not a minimum part of what is found every month in one of the most fascinating countries for the archaeologist. Not long ago, some Italians were 20 km from here, in the prehistoric cemetery of Al Khiday, considered the oldest prostate stones in the world in the remains of an old man who lived 9,000 years ago ... although before, we make a stop in one part from the most recent Khartoum story
Before us, is the Melik, the powerful 145-foot gunman used by General Kitchener in the Battle of Omdurmanwhich has been oxidizing on the banks of the Blue Nile until recently an Anglo-Sudanese collaboration agreement has been reached to restore and preserve it and "looks" today at The Clubhouse of the Blue Nile Sailing Club in Khartoum.
There is no doubt that this relic has many hours of "sheet metal and paint" but what has no debate is the exciting story behind it. After the time of colonization, the dervishes with El Mahdi controlled Sudan after defeating Charles George Gordon. British general Horatio Kitchener with an Anglo-Egyptian army had been commissioned to avenge Gordon and recover Khartoum, which he achieved thanks to the use of much more modern rifles and artillery, the construction of a railway line to Atbara to save kilometers of desert and the ascent with a fleet of river cannons tracing the Nile among which was the Melik that, together with the Sultan and Sheikh, they had been sent for the campaign
The cannons had played a considerable role in the bombing of Omdurman, including the tomb of Mahdi that we were going to visit now. We, meanwhile, leave the "elephant trunk" (meaning in Khartoum Arabic) to cross the Nile to its neighboring Omdurman
Omdurman, market, house-Museum of the Caliph and tomb of Madhi
It is possible that today Omdurman, the former capital of Sudan, is considered more a suburbial neighborhood of 3 million inhabitants than a cultural center of the country. However,Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad (known as Madhi) put this place on the map when he defeated and killed British colonel Charles George Gordon in the siege of Khartoum. Years later, the events narrated above with the famous battle of Omdurman in 1898 led by Colonel Kitchener that would end Madhi's successor and followers regaining British control would take place here.
His memorial in the place of his grave is modest after the destruction of the original by the British but it is still a pilgrimage center today
Unfortunately to the Califa House-Museum We could not enter. It dates from 1928 and has curious tickets issued by Gordon during the Siege of Khartoum, or objects of battle such as swords or personal pieces of Madhi. There's a story that tells, I don't know if true or not, thatThe tomb of El Mahdi was desecrated after the battle for the British and his skull turned by Kitchener into an inkwell. We will have to go back then. no? What we can see is the type of cooked adobe brick that we will see these days throughout the country taking advantage of the fact that they are reforming it.
For the rest, from the riverside town that Madhi found there is nothing left and that is that Omdurman continued to grow and develop under British rule as the cultural, religious and commercial capital of the country. It is certainly decadent and dusty, nothing to do with the Khartoum area where we stayed and full of tuk-tuks that are the main way to get around the city
Smiles It is the word that comes to mind in everything we carry tomorrow and more now that we approach the Souk Omdurmán, the market in this area (There is another famous in Khartoum called Souk Arabi) where Mohamed, who is our guide from the beginning and will accompany us throughout the expedition (tomorrow I tell you more of our equipment), warns us that we can not take photos (although some always falls and more when it is the Sudanese themselves who ask for it). As I do not know what we are going to find, I take the opportunity to buy some memories for just 200 SDG. Oli already has one from Tibet and another from here for his "little museum". I hope I value it someday.
He photography theme is tricky. We will not have any inconvenience as soon as we leave the cities but between the "respect" for the secret police and that the photo permits are only valid for archaeological remains, the country lives in a constant control (and not only for the photograph of 4 tourists, of course). I do not want to focus this newspaper on its "political" part but inevitably some "ramallah" will come out, although we have to be clear where we are and respect the "rules of the game". Here there is no embassy or law that gives you reason, only that governed by its rulers. To eat?
David and Noe already sensed where we would eat today, a small local dining room called Awadia on the banks of the Blue Nile where they were on their previous occasion and where we eat for just 92 SDG each (they are not even 2 euros).
Noe is also one of the attractions of the group but, not only for the boys, but they are the Sudanese themselves who are asked to take pictures with her. I start to realize that here too Islam is followed in a more relaxed way, religion is present but not so much in everyday life which, together with the cheerful and open nature of this wonderful town, gives us an ingredient that I did not expect.
While we have a coffee and tea relaxed at the tables outside the premises, something that will be usual every day, we take the opportunity to check that the 4G that David has brought us (and has given us Ahmed) work on the MIFI router to have the Quiet family and, indeed (at least in Khartoum), they work! I can talk to Oli, Paula and Nico
The National Museum of Sudan, an essential collection to visit
The National Museum of Sudan, on El Neel Avenue, houses the largest archaeological collection in the country organized by different eras, from Prehistory to Makuria As we saw yesterday.
A statue of Pharaoh Taharqo (4 meters) welcomes the ground floor, which shows pieces of all kinds (pottery, funerary objects, including the Napata and Meroe stages of the Kingdom of Kush. In addition to different legacies of the archaeological remains that we will see in the next few days, the most notable is the statue of a king- unknown Meroitic archer.
The First floor, however, already belong to Christian Nubian art, with paintings of the Cathedral of Faras
The best of the museumundoubtedly is in The temples rescued from Lake Nasser from the gardens which, thanks to a UNESCO campaign, were relocated after the construction of the Assuan Dam. The temple of Ramses II dedicated to Amun of Aksha, that of Hatshepsut de Buhen, that of Thutmose III dedicated to Jnum of Kumma, the one dedicated to Dedun and Sesostris III of Semna, the columns of the cathedral of Faras or the grave of the Nubian prince Djehuti-hotep of Dibeira.
Are you missing any? Surely the Debod Temple in Madrid sounds to you. This enclosure was in the small town of Debob, next to the first waterfall and was the work of the Nubian king Adijalamani de Meroe around 200-180 BC. C. Egypt gave it to Spain in compensation for the aid received
There is another small Ethnographic Museum in Khartoum where you can see a small collection of Sudanese tribal objects. We, however, as it is starting to get dark we will approach a very special place ...
... although crossing in any Arab country is to play life more than anything else, haha
Al Mogran, the meeting point between the White Nile and the Blue Nile
Something has the great rivers that hypnotize just by looking at them.6,853 km crossing one of the wildest and most arid landscapes in the world and being able to make one of the most imposing civilizations the world has seen flourish. The Nile is the second largest river in the world (and the largest in Africa) after running through 10 countries (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia. Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt) and has been the subject of historians and, especially, expeditions, throughout the centuries.
On the banks of the Blue Nile, near the "dubaiano" Corinthia Hotel and our own Grand Holliday Village, The riverside is more lively than ever. Sudanese congregate the area of makeshift chairs, sharing tea / coffee and conversation with friends and showing you their best smile (and curiosity) when they see you arrive. Juve does not take long to make friends. A pleasant sunset awaits us towards that magical encounter, unless you will not be able to enjoy a good beer. No, that is not our ship!
We cross the dependencies of the great previous cruise and, ahem, ... this one. What do we need more for?
He Blue Nile opened its channel at this point giving way to the formation of fertile lands called Tuti Island, where there is hardly a small village founded in the 15th century and agricultural fruit and vegetable crops that manage to supply all of Khartoum alone.
It was the Egyptians who first sailed up the Nile in search of their sources reaching this point. Also the Romans. However, the discovery of the "sources of the Nile" has always been associated with British expeditions, from Livigston I suppose it was located south of Lake Victoria (and not the lake itself) to those sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society.
Today we know that the Great Nile arises, among other tributaries, from I find between the White Nile - much more powerful - and the Blue Nile in place until the one we have reached at the moment and whose encounter is called Al Mogran. From here it crosses Sudan and Egypt to reach the Mediterranean
Sudan houses 4 of the 6 waterfalls that exist between Aswan and Khartoum and that encompassed territory of the kingdom of Kush or Nubia in ancient times. This area of the planet has always been associated with an area of mysteries beyond the known limits and that even today, in the XXI century continues to throw discoveries year after year. The 6 Nile Falls are the following:
The First Waterfall crosses Aswan (Egypt)
The Second Waterfall (the Great Waterfall) is submerged in Lake Nasser after the construction of the Aswan Dam
The Third Waterfall is near Tombos
The Fourth Waterfall has been submerged in the Merowe Reservoir since 2009
The Fifth Waterfall is located at the confluence of the Nile and the Atbara River
The Sixth Waterfall is near Wagraviyah
The best moment, however, is yet to come. Even a Varano of the Nile, the largest lizard in Africa, take advantage of the last rays for your particular rest
On our way back, we set foot on the ground on the opposite side of the jetty from which we started. Here, a small Sand agglomeration makes an impromptu beach for multiple young people, couples and friends, who are preparing to see a beautiful sunset, With their chairs in the same water. How appetizing! Shoes outside ...
I have come to Sudan haunted by the archeological vestiges of a forgotten civilization hidden under the desert sand and, from day one, I begin to be seduced by the hospitality and friendliness of the Sudanese, a people repressed and hidden from the western media
Everyone is looking for you, they want to take pictures with you, have a conversation and make you feel as comfortable as possible. I feel that they are aware that the outside vision is very different and want to change it
He sunset from this point, with the main character suspension bridge and the Khartoum nerve center on the horizon, It is the most beautiful we have had on a trip, possibly thanks to the atmosphere created in our environment.
When the sun disappears, you have to go back to the other side of the river (even go up to the bridge to capture another perspective). Has been one of the first great moments of a trip that I know has many surprises still saved for someone who had not researched fate too long before leaving
David and Noe insisted on the Grand Holliday Villa and it is in these moments, after an intense day, when we discover the reason.
Correct rooms, pool before dinner, hot shower (something that we do not value at the moment but we will do it in the next days), BBQ dinner and sisha with tea / coffee to say goodbye to the day
Tomorrow the longest journey of the entire trip awaits us. We enter the desert leaving the Nile aside to reach the Nubian Earth par excellence. Behind we leave the capital of Sudan, Khartoum or Khartoum, for which I gave nothing and that has again shown me that prejudices are to be left at home, especially with a town that has already been the great discovery of the trip. More tomorrow!
Isaac (along with the Pobes Expedition), from Khartoum (Sudan)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 92 SDG (approx 1.70 EUR) and GIFTS: 200 SDG (approx 3.70 EUR)