Sudan - Nowhere
Tue 16 Dec
We pulled into Abu Hamed station just before first light. People scurried to leave the train: stretching legs, cleaning teeth, taking chai from the trackside vendors. By the time we pulled away the sun had risen and soon we were back in the desert; a flat expanse of hardened sand. There was a cooling wind that helpfully carried our dust away. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere we stopped again for no apparent reason. It must have been about 0800 and I wondered ungenerously if the driver had gone to pray. People sat in the sand already appreciating the shade of the train. After 20mins we were off again and I went and had breakfast: "addis" (a lentil sauce) and bread. Our progress didn't amount to much. At 0850 we stopped again. There was no hurry to get off; the novelty was wearing thin. An hour passed and people were saying the engine had broken down. Apparently our communications were not getting through so someone was walking back to the last "station" where they could send for help. By now everyone had disembarked. Some had walked far into the desert but most kept to the diminishing shade. Passengers set up shops selling fruit, biscuits and cigarettes. Others seemed to spend the whole time working their way up and down the masses serving sweet milky tea in tiny glasses. I wondered about the mother and new baby but no one seemed to know much.
The sun was beginning to go down and we consoled ourselves that sleeping in the desert would be nicer than in the carriage. Just then a second engine arrived from behind and we finally started moving again, somewhat annoyingly we reversed back down the track until there was a passing place and the new engine could be brought to the front. I gather the mother was taken to hospital, sadly the baby had died.
Sudan - Nowhere