The ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa in Sudan leaves from the terminal at the High Dam, and I see a sign saying "Wlecome" (sic) as we drive along the dam's wall. My final shafting from Egypt turns out to be the hotel suggesting that I should take a taxi here as coming by train would still leave me a long way from the terminal - needless to say, the station is right next to it. A guard tells me I need to wait one hour before I go through so I sit on the edge of a disused fountain, in the middle of the rapidly-assembling crowd for the ferry.

The other passengers are predominantly Egyptian and Sudanese, many with astounding quantities of luggage. I see one man with four TVs, another with a fridge/freezer. Bulging, battered suitcases in sizes that would be inconvenient to carry when empty, let alone full, are much in evidence. Conversely I also see people with just a sports bag or even merely the clothes they're standing in. I will hear a few of their tales later.As we approach 10AM, people start moving their paraphernalia closer and closer to the entry gates inanticipation. One of the port officials insists on the creation of a narrow queue, a state of affairs not normal for Egyptians based on my experience of the last three weeks. I find myself on the periphery, and am deciding whether to push in or not when I see an official picking out "whities" from the throng. As a tourist, I am to be given priority treatment. Passport control is negotiated quickly and then I am officially out of Egypt. I've found it difficult to love, and am not sorry to leave.There are nine whities on this ferry. The first I speak to are Tintin and Helen, a German couple retracing part of the 1840s route of the German Karl Richard Lepsius, regarded as the father of Egyptology. The film footage they shoot will be used in an exhibit at the Berlin Museum relating to Lepsius' travels. This is their second trip to Sudan in four months, and it appears that the ties between Khartoum and the museum are sufficiently strong that Helen was able to have tea with the Sudanese ambassador in Berlin and their visa fees were waived. They have the Bradt guide to Sudan, which

I borrow for a few hours to supplement the scant 16 pages of info in the WLP.

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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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