At the convergence of the Blue and White Niles, Khartoum seems to straddle an invisible line separating sub-saharan Africa from Arabia. Geographically it may not be so, but there is a certain cultural divide that comes together with the Niles. White robed men linger in the souk with their brightly dressed East African brothers while women from the west and the south- their faces scared by ritual cuttings sell delicious tea (chai) on the side of the road. Khartoum is in many ways a reflection of Sudan’s place in Africa, it is the largest country with perhaps the most visible regional diversity on the continent.
Khartoum was lovely. We spent nearly a week camping by the banks of the Blue Nile, walking the length of the city several times over, exploring the Omdurman (Arab section of town) souk courtesy of a local couchsurfer, drinking gallons of fresh juice and even enjoying an ice cream or two where we could find it. From the wonderful couchsurfers we met up with to the market stall owner who invited us in for tea, and the men who invited us to lunch at the sailing club (which was delicious!), we were constantly meet with gracious hospitality and genuine interest.
Walking back from the Sudan National Museum, Danny and I were stopped on the street by a local family. Introducing himself to us, and then in turn his two boys and his veiled wife, the man welcomed us to Sudan and wished us a pleasant stay. This scene was to be repeated time and time again in Khartoum. Instead of taxi drivers following us down the street honking and yelling: “Taxi! Good price!” the drivers in Khartoum waved at us out their window and yelled, Welcome! It was a delightful change of pace.
Standing at the Whirling Dervish (sufi dance) ritual at sunset on Friday, we were fascinated not only by what was in front of us, but enchanted (thats really the only way to put it), by the people of Sudan.