The ferry crossing from Aswan to Wadi Halfa, Sudan was quite the adventure. We got to the dock about 10 a.m. on the 23rd, and from the there the white people were told to get on the boat. Since most of our group are white, we had the privilege of getting ourselves and our gear on. I’m not sure if this was arranged beforehand, or if white people have more privilege in Egypt and/or Sudan. Regardless, it sure is something we take for granted living in the west, i.e., our white skin privilege.
After getting everything on, we sat on the upper deck while everyone else loaded their stuff on. Evidently people from Sudan cross border shop in Egypt and bring it back. There were hundreds of people carrying all sorts of things – mattresses, fridges, furniture, TV’s, satellite receivers, and the list goes on. There seemed to be no order or routine to this process, and it’s really hard to describe the chaos. People were yelling, pushing, shoving, jumping – it was madness. This went on for several hours. The boat was literally teeming with people, and just when it seemed there couldn’t possibly be any more room for another body, it seemed we were ready to sail. But no, the ferry pulled back into the dock and a few dozen more people got on. How they all fit on with their belongings is beyond me and defies belief.
We finally set off at about 7:00 p.m., after darkness had fallen. The white people were assigned cabins, to share with another cyclist, but after I saw 2 cockroaches in the dining room, I decided I would be sleeping outside on the top deck. This started out to be a fairly pleasant experience – i was pitch black and the sky was filled with star. But then many people started to move into the area where I had set up camp & talked and smoked incessantly into the night. Then, of course, we had the call to prayer, which has now become routine, at around 5:00 a.m. Many of the passengers formed several lines on the deck, facing east, in order to pray. This is actually quite a beautiful thing to see – many people praying in synch.
The food was surprisingly good, as was the arabic coffee. Eventually, at about 12:00 p.m., some 29 hours later, we docked at Wadi Halfa, and began the process of unloading & going through customs. Another lengthy process. Eventually we got underway to cycle to our camp for the night.
Next post – Dongola! I’m hoping to post pictures soon, but I need wifi to do that – hoping that when I get to Khartoum I’ll find that