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Out West for a Bit

Now this was an interesting trip, we had some meetings to take care off and we have postponed them for a while. We had to go to Sudan and so after some time we arranged it, three of us to go to the meeting. Only one of the three has been there before, I didn’t know what to expect and the funny part is that we were required to get a visa to go to Sudan, I honestly don’t know why.

Two options we had for flight were Emirates or Qatar Airways, and so we decided to go with Emirates since it was a shorter lay over. As we got to the connecting flight, the plane was one of the oldest I have seen from Emirates, an Airbus A330-200, even my seat rattled during take off and the guy next to me brought two bags of McDonalds to bring to his family as a gift. We landed after about four hours of flying, turns out the airport doesn’t have any tubes that connect to the plane, you take the stairs to microbuses that they pack full of people and herd them off. Immigrations looked like Friday market, people were piling up and some of these guys were pretty funny. As soon as we got in, we had our bags with us, and we walked out. We had dollars with us that we exchange for the Sudanese Pound, then we headed out, the parking lot is basically a dirt lot and nothing more, we drove to the hotel, took us about 10 minutes we saw nothing on the road. There were a lot of foreigners at the hotel, we decided to stay, eat and sleep because of the meeting the next morning.

We woke up, had breakfast, and went to the meeting. The first thing is that you can not find your way around Khartoum, the city has no main streets and traffic lights mean nothing, you have to take a crash course in tactical driving. We had our meeting, then met a friend from Kuwait who just got married, and one thing that we were amazed by is that Sudanese are some of very nice people. There aren’t a lot of towers in the city, one or two are being built and most buildings are one or two floor buildings, the streets are basic, the only paved one is in front of the government buildings over looking the Nile River. All I knew about the Nile was that its a very dirty river in Egypt, but in Sudan its a beautiful glimmering river, an amazing view with very nice people. When talking to a few Sudanese they were telling me that the reason people don’t seem to know how to drive with rules because cars have only been recently been made easy to purchase from the general public and they have made a truce in the south. An interesting people, they seem to be very nice, things have improved and they have learned to live with their embargo, it doesn’t help that their government has some issues but I’m not even jumping into that.

When we took off at the end of the day it was probably one of the worst experiences I have had in an airport in a while. They check you in, check in your bags, check that your on the flight, pretty much everything else manually, they manually do everything on paper, that took a while to do, I didn’t realize that it would take so long to check each person in, and you had to pay a fee to leave the country which I found to be pretty funny. After we were in, we waited in the Business/First Class lounge which wasn’t too bad, but when they called us it was like organizing a huge herd. When you have one security machine to go through and over 300 passengers to go through was a disaster, then they called another flight which also flood the security machine from the side and that turned into a shouting match. We got on the plane, I was thankful to be on the plane and heading back, it was an interesting trip and met some interesting people, if it wasn’t for the airport it would have been a pleasent trip. Khartoum is a very green city with beautiful natural views in all directions, but I was happy to be heading home.