Sunday 31st - Today is actually a normal working day in Sudan, taking our Saturdays as Sunday, don’t ask why, this is Sudan!
Today we have planned to spend the day crating the bikes and getting them booked onto an airplane, should be a simple task. YEA RIGHT!
Before getting to the crating, I arrange with Jaco and Howard that I am going to find a hairdresser for a haircut and will meet them at the local internet café for breakfast at 10:00.
Of I go in search of a hairdresser in this city. Now a GPS does not have hairdressers as one of its “Go To” functions, so it’s a matter of riding around these very confusing streets until I see what looks like a place that can cut hair.
I eventually find a hairdresser (Male One) I confidently try and explain that all I want is a cut, using a clipper with a number one attachment. This to a guy wielding a cut throat razor in his hand and not speaking a word of English.
Anyway after a bit of explaining and hand gestures I get my message across, out comes the clipper and with in no time at all my hair and beard are trimmed back into a respectable length. Just as I think he is finished he once again hauls out said cut throat and proceeds to shave my neck with this very sharp looking instrument. I was a bit nervous at that stage with this blade scratching around in my neck region in the hands of a non English speaking Arab; I hoped and prayed that Bin Laden’s influence had not reached Khartoum yet. I am still here today to tell the tale so everything went well. When he was finished this part, before I could get up out of the chair he whips out a long length of dental floss. I think to myself, No Way Am I letting anyone go at my teeth with a piece of dental floss. I need not have worried though, he takes the floss wrapped it around his fingers, puts one end in his mouth and with some sort of jerking movement with his head he proceeds to trip all my facial hair and the fine hairs around my ears. This is a first for me. Well an hour later and 10 Sudan pounds poorer (This included a bottle of drinking water) I am out of there and heading off to meet up with Jaco and Howard to sort out our bikes.
First problem we encounter, Sudan does not recognize any visa or visa related cards, this because of the US Imposed sanctions against the country. We need to pay cash, dollars. Oh yes they accept Dollars of course! We have all our money in a visa travel card and this is absolutely useless to us here. We ride around Khartoum in non air-conditioned taxis in a heat of 48 degrees, trying to find a bank that can help us. To no avail. We are now arranging to have money transferred into a local airline Captains account from SA to sort out the payment.
We in the meantime headed back to the airport and then off to the market with our fixer guy “Mardi” to see how the crates are getting on, when we arrive there we are pleased to see two crates completed and the third one almost. We then need to negotiate the use of a truck to get these crates from the market to the airport export shed. After a bit of haggling from our fixer, a price is agreed on and the crates are duly loaded and on there way to the airport.
By now it is 17h00 in the afternoon and still very hot, we then have to drain all oils and fuel from the bikes and get them into the crates and strapped down. This we eventually do, by this time we are dying of thirst and tempers are getting a bit short.
Madi our fixer has one last trick up his sleeve. Just before we are about to head back to our camp site. It is now 20h00 in the evening and we have had a long day. Madi comes up to me and says he needs 100 Sudan pounds, R 500.00 to pay the 4 guys that helped push the bikes into the crate. These guys are employed by the customs to do just that! Anyway we are too tired to argue about this so we reluctantly part with yet more money.
We head back to the car park (Our camp site) to meet up with our new found friends, Quinton and Juliet. They had just got in from Wadi Halfa, and had invited us for a braai. No beer, but the steak and roast lamb was delicious.
Monday 1st - Today we are once again sorting out payment for our now crated and custom cleared bikes so that we can get them flown out of Sudan…