Thursday, July 12, 2012

sudan from afar

I landed in Addis Ababa late Tuesday night, exhausted from a wedding-weekend in New York (with much too little sleep) and the long, trans-Atlantic flight to Frankfurt, Khartoum and finally Addis. Our layover in Khartoum was just that – they wouldn’t let us off the plane, or even out of our seats as they refueled (why did they need to refuel when the remaining trip was just 1 hour?). As we slowly descended into Khartoum, I strained my neck trying to get a peek at the desert below, looking for the pyramids of Egypt, getting glances of massive rock formations in the desert. No pyramids from my side of the plane.

Khartoum is spread over the desert like an oasis of sand, monochromatic shades of beige, low white-washed walls dividing housing compounds. The dust seemed to be everywhere (at least from my view from the plane), and roads stopped abruptly where the dessert began, where civilization ceased and only arid, rolling dunes could be seen. Despite the inhospitable look of the city, I wish badly to wander through the alleys and streets, feel the dust burn my eyes, smell the sweet fragrance lifting from street vendors, small flames atop a wheel-hub stove. This trip, I’d have to just imagine what the senses would stir.

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