|Thursday 28th June - Sudan - Argo (nearly)
We woke up today feeling great because wed all had a wonderful sleep in the tent. There was a good breeze last night and that helped to keep us cool.
While we were having breakfast a couple of boys turned up with a bike asking for help to fix it so Andrew gave them a hand for a while. We then packed the car and got ready to go. I was putting some things away in the boot when Willie came up behind me. You dont want to hear this Anne Wilma he said. I expected him to tell me that Id got something horrible on the back of my trousers or something but no, he said The car wont start.
The car was completely dead as if the battery was totally flat. What had been a relaxed and happy morning instantly turned into a stressful one.
Work is being done on a new road from Wadi Halfa to Dongola something like 450 km of road. About 500 yards from our camp spot we could see lorries working on the road and, since virtually no traffic had driven past us all morning, Willie and I took a walk over to the lorries to see if we could get someone to jump start the car. We spoke to a lorry driver and he took us to see his boss so we could explain our predicament. We were then given a lift back to the Landcruiser in a Hilux pickup along with 4 other men. Back at the car we attempted to jump start the Landcruiser but with no luck. Other theories were aired and discussed but finally it was decided to give the jump start another, longer go. This time it worked. The men asked us all to meet them in nearby Abri for breakfast so we thanked them very much, packed the last of our stuff and followed them to Abri. Arriving in the village we stopped the car to pick up a few things. and found that it wouldnt restart. Another jumpstart from a passing lorry got us going again and we made our way to meet the road workers from earlier. We could see we obviously had a problem that needed to be fixed before we continued on our journey.
As far as we could gather, the construction workers office was like a house for the managers of the project. There seemed to be 3 managers staying at the house, with 3 other men there to cook, clean and maintain the place. Andrew and one of the engineers went off with the Landcruiser to find a mechanic while the rest of us waited at the house. We were given the use of the bedroom (complete with ceiling fan) and were presented with a big lunch of various dishes. It took about 3 hours for Andrew and the engineer to get the car fixed. We are so grateful to these men for their help. They were so hospitable and kind and helped us in so many ways - with their car, house, food, language skills. They went the extra mile for us and so confirmed what we had heard of Sudanese hospitality and generosity.
The LC has 3 batteries 2 red-tops (12V) and one yellow-top. It turned out that one of the red-top batteries was faulty and needed to be replaced. They managed to get a new battery and fit it in Abri. Andrew was impressed at the number and variety of spare parts that were available in the little back-street garages.
By the time the car was ready to go again, the kids were getting restless Naomi was tearfully complaining I want my Daddy and Keziah was getting grumpy. We finally got going on the road at about 3.30pm hours and hours later than wed planned, but at least we were going!
The route took us close along the Nile through numerous villages. The villages are generally very neat and tidy with courtyard-type houses. The houses are made of mud and are often painted in different colours. Gates, doors and shutters are often painted in bright colours and patterns. We have seen very few of the burqa-wearing women that we have seen in previous countries. Here women are modestly dressed but usually in bright colours and their faces are visible and friendly.
We drove on until about 6.30 when we decided to stop. We pulled off the road, up on to a rise and found ourselves at an incredibly beautiful spot. We are looking directly down on to the Nile, we have a forest of palm trees beside us and on the other side of the road is the desert. Because of this mornings delays we havent gone as far today as wed hoped, but its a wonderful place to appreciate for an evening.