Khartoum Days: Omdom

Khartoum is a hot, dusty place. Oppressively so, much of the time. Many expatriates headed for The Greek Club at the weekend, crowding into their pool. I must admit, this wasn’t my scene.

What was my scene was jumping into a friend’s 4x4, driving east of the city and crossing the hot sands next to Omdom, a small, sleepy village just outside the capital. Donkeys wandered the streets amid the needle-like minarets poking up from the dirt-streets.

We could usually muster-up a small group to go out there, laden with falafel, watermelon and a healthy disrespect for water quality. For on the other side of the scalding hot sand was the Blue Nile, its waters flowing from their Ethiopian source.

Djellaba dressed men stroll along the sand, youths splash in the water, and a group of khawaaja arrive, submerging themselves in the headwaters of the world’s longest river.

For the females of the group, the experience is somewhat tarnished - parading around in a swimming costume is somewhat culturally insensitive. A moment to relish being born a male.

Many a Sudanese has tales of friends that have been lost at the “wrong” season of the Nile. There is a fish that arrives with the rainy season up-stream, electrocuting swimmers, paralysing them and causing them to drown.

On my first visit there, a few of us remained following sunset, laying on the sand as the day drifted into night. The sun drops rapidly below the horizon as one approaches the equator. The stars filled the black sky and my thoughts turned to my future. I resolved to prolong my stay in Sudan and look for a job here. The moment—and the people—seemed too good.