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Pole to Pole

Day 63: Aswan to Wadi Halfa

On the Sinai 
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Michael Palin - Pole to PoleOn the deck of the Sinai, directly in front of the bridge, is a three-piece suite, upholstered in claret velour, with worked wooden legs and decoratively curved arms. No one seems to know to whom this fragment of living-room belongs, but all sorts of people rest in it for a while. So it is that I find myself entering the Sudan on a sofa.

Sudan, the largest country in Africa, stretches from the Red Sea in the east to within a few hundred miles of Nigeria in the west, from the Tropic of Cancer almost to the Equator. Foreign visitors are not encouraged.

The first sight of its northernmost town, Wadi Halfa, is of an exposed rocky headland, on which stands a collection of open-sided tented structures, a handful of vehicles and a number of waiting figures moving across the rocks as we approach. Their djellabahs are caught by a light breeze, giving their movements a dreamlike quality.

There is no port, and there are no other vessels. The Sudanese Customs officers are slow and thorough, removing personal items and laboriously copying serial numbers. The cumbersome process of examination and paperwork seems to bear out the rule that the more forms you have to fill in the less efficient the country is likely to be.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 63
  • Country/sea: Sudan
  • Place: Wadi Halfa
  • Book page no: 136

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