Sudan - Rosa
Wed 10 Dec
Only 40kms to Sudan and a civilised start of 0700 as the border post didn't open till 0800. The girl in the seat behind me introduced herself as Rosa and reminded me that she had sat at our ever-increasing table the evening before. She had a hotel at the Ethiopian border town of Metema and had been to Shehedi on business. She also worked in the Sudan Immigration office "at the bank" and offered to help me through all the formalities and then help me find transport to get to Gederef. She was very friendly and affable and we spent some of the bus journey teaching me Arabic. When the bus broke down she kept me informed and advised me to cool it when I didn't get all my fare back (apparently I'd got more than anyone else). We walked a while along the road for 20mis before getting a ride on top of a load of vegetables. At Metema she insisted on taking me back to her hotel for a soft drink and kept me there for coffee and pastries and after a while a plate of spaghetti bolognaise. I was getting increasingly frustrated. The morning was slipping away and I hadn't even crossed the border yet. She went and washed, changed her clothes and returned with lipstick freshly applied and hair loose and brushed. Was she now ready for work? Or am I been incredibly naive?
I know from years of travelling and experiencing other cultures that westerners generally are focussed on their objectives and to the point. Elsewhere it's rude not to enquire of the well being of the family goats or the yield of the maize harvest before explaining what you actually want, and at other times there's a good reason to sit around all morning in comfortable shady surroundings. It could be that Rosa knew there would be no transport for hours, or possibly that the immigration men would be at prayer. When we finally got going things went smoothly, in fact my time at immigration was only delayed because I met a pleasant chap called Charles from the British Embassy in Addis who had also done the Great Ethiopian Run the week before and coincidently was expecting to do the last segment of the Napier trek with Solomon my guide early in the new year.
Rosa's "bank" turned out to be an armchair in the waiting area of the Immigration office. When the moment came she changed US$150 at a rate that I regarded covered her generous attention and hospitality.
Sudan - Rosa