25 – The Wait (part 2)
Tue 22st Dec, Hotel Al Nadi
The amount of time I’m staying in Khartoum, I can probably start to pass off as a local, or at least a foreigner working here. It’s Tuesday afternoon 3.15pm and I’ve had no luck with my Eritrean visa. The guy at the consulate tells me that they would need a longer time to review my application since I do not have residency in Sudan. I explained I traveled from Egypt and they fella understood, but those guys doing the approval will only feedback in a few days, maybe a week, maybe two. SIGH.
So, what can i do next? Two choices, I can choose to wait till the weekend and return to the embassy. Or i can say screw it and head towards Ethiopia (this visa was done back in Sg). After much thought I decided on the former, and the opportunity cost would be a delay of about a week. But of course i’m not going to sit around in this hotel in Khartoum and wait like an idiot.
I took 3 minibuses from the Riyadh area to Mina Bary (Land Transport Center). I had no idea where this big bus station was, locals had to advise me to change minibuses here and there. After 5 buses today I kind of get how and where to flag these buses down. But you need to roughly know the routes of the buses, or get someone to direct you to the correct sidewalk to stand on, where the buses pick people up. And stand with the group that’s normally around waiting for these minibuses. Each bus is manned by a conductor-driver tag-team. The conductor leans out the door and calls out the destination. He carries coins (bus fares are 50 piastres max, i think), and you have to hand the fare to him (think pass the parcel). To get off the buses, you snap your fingers to alert the conductor. He will make the hissing sound (a bit like ‘tsktsk’, also a bit similar to the Egyptian hissing to tell you to get out of the way) and the driver will stop.
Mina Bary was the terminal where all buses going south of Sudan leave from. It was 1.5 SDP for entry into the compounds and there are likely 50 over bus companies here. A bit overwhelming, with all the shouting out for all the destinations. Actually it kind of resembles an enclosed Malaysian bus station (like Larkin), other than the fact that everything is in Arabic.
I got myself a bus to El-Obeid (39 SDP, 7 hours), leaving tomorrow at 7am in the morning. From there I will try to find a way south to either Dilling or Kadogli. Stay there for a day or two and get back to Khartoum hopefully by Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, i will head for the Eritrean embassy again and see if my application result is favourable. Whatever the outcome, I will be off to Kassala the same day (found a company at the station that sets off at 2pm on Sunday). From there I will head on to my next destination.
Bus to arabi, is central khartoum, where most likely you will stay
Bus to mamoora, is the Afra bus
Bus to mahali, mina bary, is the long distance bus terminal
Bus to al-morda, omdurman souq
Bus to riyadh, riyadh district