Visa n° 402 I knew all along that this trip would take me through the Republic of the Sudan. It was the only viable way south from the Middle East to Ethiopia and onto Kenya, and I had timed my arrival in Egypt to allow me obtain my visa before the country’s first multi-party elections since 1986. Applying in the UK can be a lengthy (two-month) process, often ending in refusal, or so I had heard. In Cairo, once the hoops of bureaucracy had been jumped-through, a visa can be issued in twenty-four hours. Yet it wasn’t until I walked out of the embassy, clutching my passport with a crude, hand-written visa inside, that it dawned on me (with a flutter of adrenaline) that I would actually be traveling through Sudan. Visa number four hundred and two. They don’t issue many of these things. (And many thanks to the British embassy for the fleecing. The Sudanese demand a “letter of recommendation” as part of their bureaucratic application; the British don’t issue such letters, but for £30 they will supply a photocopy of a letter stating that they don’t issue letters. Thirty pounds. For a photocopy.)

Visa n° 402

I knew all along that this trip would take me through the Republic of the Sudan. It was the only viable way south from the Middle East to Ethiopia and onto Kenya, and I had timed my arrival in Egypt to allow me obtain my visa before the country’s first multi-party elections since 1986.

Applying in the UK can be a lengthy (two-month) process, often ending in refusal, or so I had heard. In Cairo, once the hoops of bureaucracy had been jumped-through, a visa can be issued in twenty-four hours.

Yet it wasn’t until I walked out of the embassy, clutching my passport with a crude, hand-written visa inside, that it dawned on me (with a flutter of adrenaline) that I would actually be traveling through Sudan.

Visa number four hundred and two. They don’t issue many of these things.

(And many thanks to the British embassy for the fleecing. The Sudanese demand a “letter of recommendation” as part of their bureaucratic application; the British don’t issue such letters, but for £30 they will supply a photocopy of a letter stating that they don’t issue letters. Thirty pounds. For a photocopy.)