Fri 18 Mar
My friend David has come to stay for a week. After arriving on a late night flight we are in the living room at four in the morning drinking karkaday and talking about issues that could surely wait for another day? David would have been up since dawn. I imagine he's tired and buzzing all mixed as one; the arrival and the anticipation.
He unpacks an assortment of goodies that we've variously requested: cotton buds, blank CDs, a dictionary and "astringent" (or was it "toner"?); it's fun, a little like Christmas. Still before we can rest we have to sort out the sleeping arrangements. David shall use my bed with mosquito net and for myself I arrange cushions from the living room chairs elsewhere on my bedroom floor. There's no second mosquito net, but I'll risk it for one night – after all there's not much night left anyway.
In the early morning the relentless sunshine powers through the bedroom windows and we're forced to get up. Besides, there's adrenalin beginning to flow, David's only here or seven days and we've got a lot to do.
We head out into Omdurman souq for a quick orientation, familiarisation, route-finding, souvenir surveying, tomato buying, foray. We buy a locally made mosquito net for 600SD (US$2.50). An hour and a half later, we are back and ready to sit indoors under a fan and sip chilled water for a while.
In the late afternoon we take a rickshaw across to Hamid Al Nil cemetery to watch the dervishes whirl. It's my third visit and I have to say I really enjoy it. Perhaps because the "once-in-a-lifetime" pressure is off, the photos have all been taken; for once, I stop, watch and listen.