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September 2004
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October 2004

omdurman

Just got back from having some indian food at Little Asia. Just when you thought it was safe to sweat again. Well the election is coming up. It’s my first experience with absentee ballots. I have to admit it’s a long process trying to vote overseas. Everyone is quick to back their candidates even thousands of miles from home. I’ve posted more pics on the photo link. It's the Souk Market in Omdurman I’ve visited a few times. The smells there are enough to last you a lifetime. Going pass the spice vendors smells like a perfume store. Then there’s the meat market. The food is hanging fresh from the awnings. Little souped up golf carts putt by every other minute carrying people from one side of the market and back. The streets are congested with pedestrians so taking anything larger than a regular car is asking for delays. When I went, I had forgot my hat and just had a bandana. I haven’t seen anyone wearing one since I got here so I was hesitant to put it on. Finally, I ended up buying a knitted skull cap from a vendor. I got a few looks as people watched a white guy walking around in an Muslim hat. It kept the heat off and I tried to be mindful of my actions walking around. One guy did stop me and asked if I was a Muslim. I hated to disappoint him but I think I got the point across. Another thing I noticed every time I go there. Someone always asks me if I’m British or German, never American. Haven’t figured that out yet. Even the locals at work sometimes ask me if I’m British. I knew all Monty Python watching would come back to haunt me. I walked out to the car today and found the second of the flat tires I’ve had in one month of driving my car. The roads are hard on regular cars. I got it changed quickly and was happy to have my ride again. Nothing like having to hitch a ride in Sudan. One of the common practices on the road are hitchhikers. If you stand by the road and put your arm down and out with a couple fingers pinching together, that means you’re looking for a ride in Khartoum. I’ll see everyone from police to pedestrians hopping into the back of a pickup for a lift down the road a mile. If you don’t lock your doors you may have a carpool buddy at the next stop sign. People are cool about it and haven’t run into the problem we have in the states with the Ted Bundys of the world. Time to wrap it up. Occasionally wonder about the weather back home and how it’s almost time for Halloween. I imagine Xmas items will be popping up in stores near you. Haven’t had a chance to write anything for awhile. Did another trip to the Souk today with another group of co-workers. Tried to talk to a vendor that had a couple swords I was interested in. He’s come down a little in price and I’ve gone up a bit. But no sale so far. I did buy several things for family though. Spent a lot of time uploading all the pictures of the pyramid trip I took a few weeks ago. So check em out in the photo section....Today was a birthday for Mark, one of the guys at work, so I tagged along for a birthday dinner at a Turkish restaurant. They had buffet night so we had a wide selection of choices. Mostly assorted veggies and meats. Nothing too exotic. They had a dessert table though with pomegranates and squash that I tried. Both equally tasty. The squash was served in honey which I never would of thought of....The other big news would be my bid list is finally in so I don’t have to think about that anymore.


lifetime supply of saran wrap

Yesterday, I received the final container I had shipped from the states. It was a long time coming and I had my doubts I would ever receive it. But with the help of local staff and several calls on my own we were able to track it down. It had ended up in Asmara, Ethiopia and sat in a warehouse for a couple months. I unpacked it last night and was happy to find almost everything was there. It seems someone took out the shaving cream though. I imagine it was the packers since they had questioned it during pack out. I had already verified if it was safe to ship and told them so. But it looks like it got tossed anyway. I'll be buying local I guess. A lot of the things I needed are here but you will pay a little bit more for it. A few of the things I hadn't counted on are vaccuum cleaner bags, cat food, and pasta sauce. The stuff I got in my last container filled out my kitchen nicely so I feel like I'm able to cook more now. I didn't realize I would end up with so many boxes of aluminum foil and saran wrap but now it seems I have a 3 year supply. Family care packages have also contributed nicely to the snack food supply. I'm starting to become known as the desert connection since I'm bringing cakes and brownies to cookouts....It seems my phone line is acting up again today. I'm trying to update my website and noticed I now have a party line. So connections are hit or miss until I can get the local staff to finish up the wiring they're doing for our residences.


music cassettes - old school

Last Thursday I finally had a chance to shop for some traditional Sudanese music. I bumped into Omir at work and we decided to run out over the lunch hour to look for some CDs. We made it downtown amidst the hurly burly of the noon time crowd. Parking was hard to find so we parked the car and hoofed it to the first shop he knew of. Unfortunately, the shop had closed down recently. He spoke to one of the other vendors in the area to confirm if that was the place. So we strolled over to another place next to some gold shops I had visited before. They had music but only on tape and the music was more contemporary. Omir asked if I would mind going to his friends shop. It seems everyone knows a friend. I figured what the hey and we crossed a couple busy streets again. I always feel like you take your life in your hands when you cross the street. But the traffic gave way and we made it to a less busy side street and came upon a shop similar to what you would setup temporarily. The friend of Omir wasn't there but we talked to the young man that was. Omir convinced him that I was serious about buying if I could listen first. The vendor was kind enough to open any cassettes I pointed at or Omir said I should listen too. After the first couple tapes I knew we had found the right spot. Some of the local artists were famous outside of Sudan and would compare to the Sinatras' and Crosby's we know. Most of the selections we listened to we're of singers and musicians that had been around for 30 years or more. My purchases were piling up but at 500 Dinars a tape I didn't mind. Some of my picks were of younger artists that kept the traditional theme but brought some modern arrangements into the mix. Omir was so happy I was enjoying the music he bought one of my tapes for me, since it was an artist he liked and wanted to give it to me as a gift. We were starting to wear out the old stereo tape player after awhile. So we wrapped it up and I paid the man so we could get on our way. Now I have to figure out how to transfer tapes to CD. On the way back, Omir confessed he had one wish and that was to find one American artist he enjoyed very much. I figured Elvis? Sinatra? Nope, it was Barry White. The next time I hit Amazon, I'll hook him up. We made it back to work and Omir thanked me for the chance to show me his country's music. The pleasure was all mine....Earlier in the week, I had a chance to meet a couple folks from the Khartoum American School. One was a teacher and the other was the computer admin that was helping setup the school for kids. During our discussions, I took them up on the offer to visit the school. I mentioned if they needed some entertainment I'd be happy to come over and put on a juggling show or give some lessons to the kids. They liked the idea and started saying they'd pass the word to their other affiliated schools. Just when I thought I never get a chance to juggle for anyone in Sudan something pops up. Guess I should of shipped more juggling stuff in my shipment over here....Well down to a few weeks before I have to decide on what I want to list for my next tour. I think I've narrowed it down. I've had to revise it a few times after some false starts and assumptions. Hard part is waiting till they tell you where you'll actually wind up....Ok, I've been driving my own car now for a couple weeks. Aside from the occasional missed gear, I think I'm doing alright. I found three grocery stores I've been trying to go to, all in one night. Oh did I mention, drivers here don't like to turn on their headlights if they don't have too. It was 7PM and the sun was already down, but cars were flashing lights at me since mine were on. They didn't have theirs on so they thought I had forgot. I still haven't figured that one out. Someone said it's because most drivers feel like the battery dies if you use your lights too much. So it takes a bit getting use to see trucks, cars and streets without lights, while pedestrians leave it to you to see them. Add a sand scratched windshield with what lights people do use to blind you and you're in for some adrenaline filled action. We'll that's it for now.