I convince myself that the fly infestation is Abri-specific, and head south again the next day, together with Tintin and Helen. Tintin buys me a Pepsi, a kind gesture and, as the almost-full bottle dangles from my fingers, I eventually have to explain to him that I only drink sparingly on a travel day as my bladder is fond of demanding to be emptied at the least convenient times. I pour the drink into my water container, thus creating a sugary hydrating mixture that tastes more of iced tea.

This time the boksi leaves with only four passengers and soon hits paved road. The Germans are dropped at the delightfully-named Wawa, from where they will visit an old temple of Amenhotep III across the river. Wawa appears to be a ghost town, inhabited only by flies. The paved road peters out to dirt, but it is hard and the dust problem is minimal. The number of passengers peaks at six and this is an altogether more pleasant journey than yesterday's had been.

Several hours in, we pass though a small settlement where I am surprised to see English graffiti - "Chinese stop killing Nubians" and "Human rights for Darfur" are just two of the slogans spray-painted onto the walls. While most Western governments have been shunning Sudan and its El-Bashir-led administration, China has been cosying up to the leader and assisting in numerous infrastructure projects throughout the country. El-Bashir is another product of the African conveyor belt of despotic premiers, with the Darfur slaughter and religious conflicts in the south taking place on his watch. So not a nice man, but his considerable hostility to the West, and his country's natural resources, make Sudan an obvious target for overtures from other nations that don't necessarily see the West as the inevitable leaders in any future world order.

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About this author

  • John McCabe

    From the UK, lived and worked in Japan and the US. Currently on a multi-year trip having a look at the rest of the world. Fir…

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