05 November, 2006

A Cartoon in Khartoum

After a wild flurry of e-mails between MotoBins, friends at home and BMW Nuremberg, the parts are now ordered. The phones don't work too well here either and I don't speak German. MotoBins insisted that they needed to know exactly which wheel was fitted to my bike so that they could send the correct parts. Thanks to the efforts of those at home, the information was obtained and all is well. It all goes to show that even thousands of miles from home, friends can still be invaluable, and the whole trip can depend on their efforts! I've no idea what I'd have done with out such assistance, and further information was also forthcoming about the extent of the damage done! (Thanks Roy!) So now ALL the parts I need should arrive, and not just the ones I thought I needed, which would have left me in the same situation as I'm presently in. Thanks again to Midhat, who showed me the DHL office that will pick the parts up, as well as the travel agents' that can give cash from a Credit Card - at an extortionate rate!

Anyway, MotoBins just need to confirm that all is well on Monday and DHL will give me a wee number so that I can watch the progress of my parts as they whoosh towards me. It's only going to cost $198 for delivery. (ONLY!!!) Of course, yesterday was Saturday, so no pick-up as it was the UK weekend, followed swiftly by Sunday. So, Monday pick-up then? Ordinarily it would only take five days to get here but Friday, well, that's Sudanese weekend so maybe Saturday. Then I have three days to fit the parts and get to the Ethiopian border before my Sudanese visa runs out. I'll have been in Sudan by then for three weeks.

At least now that I've done all I can possibly do, I can relax a bit and start the tourist thing.

It's funny how when there's a bend to go round, a hill to see over, a truck to overtake, a bus to avoid, food to find/cook, a campsite to find, a tent to put up, a hotel's price to negotiate, petrol to buy, an ATM to find, maintenance to monitor (not too closely it seems!) . . . that takes up all of your head. As soon as there's nothing to do, no momentum, just waiting, staring at a screen, looking out over the balcony, trying vainly to keep cool, drink water, eat fruit, just nothing to do - that's when you get hameseek!

Thankfully now at least I have an idea when I'll go, I can look forward towards that. Midhat is a life-saver. He seems to know everyone and rides his bicycle through the traffic faster than I can ride the motorbike! He organises trips into the desert for anyone interested. I'll see if I can get his website address.

Rachel's flat is small and has all you could need but very few luxuries. The telly doesn't work, but my wireless does and there is a lovely big fridge which we keep well-stocked with drinks and fruit. At last, thanks to my landlady, I learned how to open and eat a mango without making too much mess! The only air-conditioning, in Rachel's bedroom, is broken and makes far too much noise. She sleeps with it off. It would never be capable of cooling down the whole flat. So I make my bed on the balcony. It's a bit noisy on the balcony but it is airy and not too far from the fridge. Any effort at all creates uncomfortable amounts of moisture. The temperature is a comfortable 38Celsius during the day, plummeting to 32 in the evening (brrr!). We are reading all the books in the house!

Positive things about Khartoum - if you smile at almost anyone they'll smile back. This works especially on the road. I think they're amazed that I'm on a bike. Most 'whiteys' are in huge 4x4's with 'UN' along the side. The tea ladies - they go through such a rigmarole involving ginger and cinnamon long before coffee or tea are introduced. Made friends with Mohammed, the local shopkeeper, when I bought most of his reserves of delicious grapefruit fizzy drink! Streetside barbecues - restaurants fall into the street of an evening and provide tasty bits of chicken and shwarma with bread. Mmmm! Finding the cheapest, best places - this iCaff is only 150SD per hour (about 50p) and has excellent air-conditioning! Eating Nile perch overlooking the Nile. Mad driving which means you can smile at the policeman directing traffic and he'll wave you through! Driving the wrong way up one way streets - there are no signs so how am I supposed to know - nobody bothers!

Today I went to the BMW garage (why not?) to get my relay mended (not too many Halfords this side of Wadi Halfords). I had to ride another 6miles to the workshop but once there was fed cold drinks (free!) while together we (the two mechanics [one female - yes!!!], the electrician and I) sorted out which relay it was and mended the bike. At the end - 'how much?' says I.
'It's on the house,' said they.
'But you've spent over an hour working on it!' I protested, feebly.
'No, that wasn't work, that was just some fun!' they laughed. I really appreciate that wherever you seem to go with BMW, the mechanics are real enthusiasts. It's like their job is their hobby! But I think as well that they get a bit of a laugh at the 'ancient technology' of this bike. BMW have developed quite far since 1981. Two Wheels in Edinburgh, however, take note! Did I mention the free coffee AND cakes at Nuremberg?

And, while they couldn't let me use their workshop for hours next week, I was provided with a map (no addresses here!) to 'my brother's workshop' where I should be able to find space! Other than that, there's not much to report except to especially thank Enfie and Roy at home for their help in the more intricate technical aspects!


At 09/11/2006, 19:15, Anonymous Roy said...

I came across the fact today, that while we were balancing a few lumps of rock on top of each other to build stonehenge, the egyptians had already built the sphinx and the great pyramid at Giza. This obviously very advanced civilisation must have surely have the means to fix a motorbike, especially a bike that was designed round about the same time.

At 11/11/2006, 12:28, Blogger Mick said...

I went to an iCaff in Cairo that had Stonehenge as its screen background - not joking! Sadly I'm in Sudan now, where although there are pyramids, they don't show quite the same technical wizardry as their more northern counterparts. I'll get there though . . .

At 15/12/2006, 16:56, Anonymous johnann said...

Can you read this.


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