Sudan - Fixing a Ride
Finding transport however was not the "sure thing" I had gullibly believed. There were shared taxi pick-ups, three of them, all empty. At least I could choose my seat but it would be at least three hours before the first would leave. Even then the price seemed to be double what I had expected. The second pick-up offered to run immediately as a private charter for US$40. There were many lorries facing the right direction presumably clearing customs or having breakfast but suddenly no one wanted to answer my questions or help me find out. Then I saw one of the many Ethiopian petrol tankers cross the bridge; it was quickly through immigration and customs. I pushed Rosa to negotiate on my behalf. "He'll take you all the way to Khartoum for 5000 (US$20)." I told her my price was 3000 and she said he would settle for 4000. I didn't agree and went to buy bread and water during which time Rosa said she was angry with me and getting fed up, "why didn't I just agree and go?" I was getting fed up too. I was hot and tetchy and keen to get out of the sun and re-taking control.
By this time the petrol tanker had moved up to the final security checkpoint; I approached the driver directly, "how much to Khartoum?" He wrote 3000 on the palm of his hand and I realised that Rosa had probably been on for quite a significant "broker's" fee. We shook hands and I hastily grabbed my bags from the shared taxi area and jumped into the cab.
The Sudanese (shared) taxi marshal realising that he wouldn't get my commission complained to the security police. The driver started the engine but before we moved away a security official accompanied by a soldier opened my door and told me to get out. I asked why. He struggled with a plausible explanation but settled with "Ethiopians were not allowed to take passengers in Sudan". I tried to clarify whether this was a law or simply that he was warning me? Was there a risk? A danger? Surely I was free to consider his advice? I was free to decide whether to take it or not? I thanked him for his concern and told him firmly that on this occasion I would stay put. The official gave up on me and summoned the driver to his hut. There was a heated discussion between them and any other interested party within shouting distance. Then the driver returned, climbed into the cab and we drove off. Suddenly all was well. Later when the driver claimed he had paid a bribe of US$4 I was angry but thought it better to discuss it once we'd reached somewhere where getting out was an option.
Sudan - Fixing a Ride