31 October, 2006

"We're Khartoumed!"

We arranged that Rachel would e-mail or phone to say that all was well and off she went. I started to think out my options. It was far too expensive to stay in that Hotel any longer. I'd no idea how long it might take MotoBins to get the new parts to me from the UK. I had seen an SKF bearings sign on a shop and began to think my best bet would be to buy and fit another set of bearings before heading straight for Ethiopia. But there's 200miles of sand over the border and through bandit country (no - really!). If these bearings didn't hold up, or went during the sandy bit, I could be in serious trouble.

Here in Sudan they have only recently introduced ATMs, so all that stuff they tell you at the bank about ATMs being available in every country is just nonsense. These new ATMs are for specific bank customers only, as ours once were when they were first introduced. I have some cash supplies but they are supposed to be for emergencies only. This is certainly one of those but I really need to access funds from home if I'm going to be here for some time.

Sudan, it seems, is a member of the US/Bush invention, the "Axis of Evil". (This from the man who said "the trouble with the French is they have no word for 'entrepreneur'!" Help.) You may remember that the US bombed a chemicals factory here some time ago, having linked it to Al Qaeda. Later, when they'd realised their mistake, they quietly apologised and paid the owner some compensation, it seems. One result of this is that nobody gets to trade with the Sudan, except other countries the current US Administration doesn't like. So we have quality tyres 'Made in Syria', as well as much from China, who are just too big for the US to push around! And the French who will never do as they are told and good for them! The "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" (Cheney or Rumsfeld - not sure!).

But there can be no doubt at all that something quite unnecessarily unpleasant is going on in Darfur, although it seems that it is much more complicated than the Western media, with its "goodies and baddies" preconditioning would have you believe.

So what to do in the meantime? Well, Mithad must be the only man in Khartoum who owns a 1973 BMW R75/6, which he 'inherited' after its Dutch owner was consumed by hyenas (truth and fiction having that curious relationship!) back in 1981. They still have the photos of the approaching cuddly pack of laughing things which the unfortunate Dutchman took just prior to his ugly demise. Of course this R75 is in need of some parts so he is extremely excited about the prospect of a store in England that can send him bits over the internet. He also knows lots of mechanics and would like to show me his bike. So I am of some use. But where to stay? I visited several hotels in the hope of finding one less expensive but there really wasn't anything at all. The run to the border was starting to look like the only viable option. I could exchange my cash reserves here but what if they run out before the parts arrive?

Then Rachel e-mailed to say she was fine and had a flat. Did I want to come and stay there? Wooohoo!!!! That night I slept on the balcony under a mosquito net - excellent and all for free! :-) The view from Rachel's balcony.Now all I need to do is to get MotoBins to answer my e-mails, which they say they only do "during slack moments"! Meanwhile the heat . . . and I'm sitting . . . and I'm waiting . . . and I can only afford 3 hours of sitting on a computer per day . . . and it IS BORING!!! Once this order is confirmed I can go and look at some museums and do the touristy thing (again!). The Blue and White Niles converge here. Kitchener's gunboat is now the offices of the local Sailing Club. There's stuff to see - but nothing to photograph - oh, no - they don't like that!! Which is just as well for me, because I left my camera behind on the road to Hurgada in Egypt! :-)

This trip seems to be as much about sitting around waiting for stuff as it is about moving and travelling on the bike. I have to say that I find the lack of momentum and progress pretty frustrating. I really want to get to Ethiopia now, where they have altitude to keep them cool, and good roads, and greenery and scenery and . . . I think I see a mirage! The heat must be getting to me! I may have had enough of sand.

Thankfully the bike is still mobile on tarmac roads (not all roads, even in the very centre of Khartoum, are tarmacked). But I have to say that I was tempted the other day as I rode past the airport and saw the offices of British Airways Cargo! Just to ask the price, that's all!! It's the heat!


At 31/10/2006, 12:39, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Meet both Nicks in the Meridien about midday (Tuesday 31st)

Dutch Rob
(I do Nick and Nicks web site and Blog www.cotswolds2capetown.co.uk)

At 31/10/2006, 17:51, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mick
With all that sand i hope you've a good bucket and spade for making lovely castles

At 01/11/2006, 13:23, Anonymous Roy said...

I take back all I said about BMW africa twins.... Did you see the link to Duane's wheel bearings page? All will be well when these teething troubles are out of the way.

At 03/11/2006, 18:26, Anonymous mo said...

Are things improving yet? How long will you be at Rachels? Will I buy an iPod tomorrow and hand it into Nick? Then I could post it there, how long would that take and that would be something else to 'wait around' for. :-( xxx Keep your chin and spirits up big bruv. xx

At 11/11/2006, 12:24, Blogger Mick said...

My sand castles are the most formidable in all the Sahara, all that training on B/land beach pays off at last! I won the trans-Sahara Sand Castle Competition - like the world cup of sand castle competitions! Wahid from Wadi Halfa wisnae pleased!


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