Several years ago, the US government blew up a pharmaceutical company in Sudan thinking, erroneously, that it was involved in the production of weapons of mass destruction. Since then, the Sudanese government has obviously been wary about letting US citizens into their country. Since our bus needed to travel through it to carry on to Egypt, we breathed a big sigh of relief when we obtained our visas in Addis Ababa (to the tune of US$200 apiece!), Ethiopia, and then an even bigger sigh of relief when the border officials let us into the country. However, our initial joy at getting into Sudan was tinged with irritation when we found out that we also needed to pay a US$65 “registration fee” each. Furthermore, upon leaving the country we were hit with a US$20 departure tax as well. So we spent almost US$300 apiece to travel through Sudan, which was NOT in our budget. Ouch. As an aside, we also found out that our renter has not paid rent, needed to be evicted, and left all his belongings in the house along with cigarette stench, food, and garbage requiring thousands of dollars to fix. On top of all that, Fran’s father is sick and we worry about his health. We were not happy campers in Sudan.
But we certainly tried to make the best of things. Photographs are illegal without a special photography license that we had not idea how to get, so our photos are limited to a couple of illicit shots. We took a lovely sunset boat trip to the confluence of the Nile River, where the White Nile from Uganda meets up with the Blue Nile from Ethiopia to form the true Nile Rive which flows up through Egypt to the Mediterreanian Sea. Our “tour” is actually called the “Nile Expedition” and we saw the source of both of these rivers, so it was quite a highlight to see them come together in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The boat captain said it was ok to take photos, so I snapped a couple. Imagine how anxious I was when the police came over in a boat, siren blaring! Luckily, they just warned us not to take photos; I'm not sure if they saw me or not, but I wasn't taking any more chances.
The next night we camped in the desert by some deserted (forgive the pun) pyramids. The setting sun cast a lovely reddish glow over the rose-colored sand and cluster of pyramids in the distance. Ancient Egypt conquered much of Sudan, and the rulers sent their children to be educated in Egyptian centers such as Thebes, so that they considered themselves to be Egyptian and became quite acculturated. As a result, they even continued to dress and behave as Egyptians even after the Egyptian empire began to fall apart and become taken over by the Greeks. We had a fabulous time exploring our first taste of Egyptian culture. Christopher has been excited about hieroglyphics ever since he was a little boy; he used to make up stories to go along with every hieroglyphics in museum and insist that we hear the story to the end. I got him a book about hieroglyphics for Christmas and he devoured the information. As we went through the pyramids, he pointed out many of the symbols and even compared them to drawings in his book. He was a fantastic guide!