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Pole to Pole

Day 63: Aswan to Wadi Halfa

Wadi Halfa, Sudan 
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Wadi Halfa, Sudan: a Nubian woman.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleAt the cooler end of the day we pay a visit to the Governor of Wadi Halfa, an imposing, charismatic man with a greying beard who speaks good English in a soft deep voice. He has only recently been appointed. He is critical of the way things have been run.

'Since twenty-six years when old Wadi Halfa was flooded they have done nothing . . . only wait for the train and the ferry.' And, he might have added, the possibility of being flooded again if the water behind the dam should rise to 182 metres. It has once reached 178. But this governor is a quiet optimist and is pushing ahead with various projects to drag Wadi Halfa out of its lethargy, including an irrigation programme to help the town grow all its own wheat.

He offers us tea and sweets and talks of the diversity of these big African countries - there are 270 languages in the Sudan alone. The Governor reveals that he was once Member of Parliament for Darfur in the far west, but concludes, 'I have enough of politics, now I like to work with the people'. I can't help feeling, as I leave, that this capable man has been sent as far away from the present government as possible, and that for a politician Wadi Halfa is the Siberia of the Sudan.

The 'Nile Hilton', as the crew have christened our hotel, is packed tonight. There are bodies everywhere, and voices and shufflings and comings and goings, but the cold shower is spectacularly refreshing, and it's down to ninety-two degrees in my room. As I lie down to try and sleep I feel exhilarated but a little apprehensive. I have never experienced anything quite like this in my life, and I have the distinct feeling that there is worse to come.
Wadi Halfa, Sudan 
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Wadi Halfa, Sudan: a Nubian woman.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 63
  • Country/sea: Sudan
  • Place: Wadi Halfa
  • Book page no: 139

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