FRI 30 MAR 2001
7:45 Why didn't I take the sticks for the mosquito net? Why didn't I
cut new ones here in Atbara? Schlecht geschlafen. Too much wind from
the fan. Less wind more mosquitos. Pack. The compound next to the hotel
is a yard with a hut, made of palm tree leafs. Beds outside. Feel weak.
Too much confusing food yesterday. Many sweets, cold milk, one liter
of yoghurt. Pay the hotel bill. The owners are from egypt. Hotel exists
since 1986. The office is equiped with PC and internet. PC at the moment
is at service. Walk to the train station. The ticket office of course
is closed. Should have been there at 8:00, as I was told yesterday.
Office crew is out for breakfast, another customer informs me.
Waiting inside a ticket office of Sudan Railways. Yesterday I was told
that the ticket office will be open at 8:00 AM. Visit the office at
10:00. Closed. The man in charge is supposed to be out for breakfast.
Walk around the station. Hot. Friday, holiday. Office won't open. Take
a walk to the university guest house. Old british style. Water, toilets,
bath tubes, terraces. A little bit decaying. Back to the train station.
Open. Enter the office. A man, obviously a visitor, speaks english.
The office is for second and third class only. For first class I shall
cross the street and look for another office. Go there. Closed. Leave.
Back to the second class office. Four, five people already inside. Shall
wait for a man, supposed to come in ten minutes, in charge of first
class. Wait. The man arrives. He is busy with some other work. Tells
me, there is another man in charge of first class tickets. This one
is supposed to come in half an hour.
The train leaves once a week. On friday. Ticket office opens at 8:00am.
Come at 10:00. The office is closed. Staff gone for breakfast. Some
times later the office is open again, but just offering third class
tickets. The office for first class tickets is on the other side of
the road. Of course it is closed. Leave for a long walk that leads me
to the university guest house. British colonial style. Bathroom with
bathtube, furniture, terrace, garden. Back to the station. A visitor
of the ticket office informs me about the forthcoming procedure. An
official shall arrive, responsible for second and first class tickets.
In fact he arrives after 20 minutes but just informs me that another
official is in charge of first class tickets. This man is supposed to
come later. Actually three hours later I purchase the ticket. Train
shall leave at about 17:00. Get there in time. First class waggon doors
closed, windows closed. Inside heat like in an oven. Impossible to stay
inside. Buy bananas and lukewarm water. Train starts to move at 18:20.
Very slowly. Takes quite a long time to get out of Atbara. One village
after the other. Very fine sand, dust. Vast clouds of dust when the
train moves close to walls of houses. The first class compartment has
six seats. Different design, naturally. All covered by dust. The door
is broken, doesn't move. Anyway it's rather useless. Neon lamp and a
fan. The bord electrician comes along and starts the lamp. I switch
it off a little later. So this is final. He will not come again. Train
obviously moves too fast. Should just go 35 km/h. Probably no dust then.
Getting dark soon. Join the compartment with a man from Khartoum. He
will do aircondition installation or something like that in the hospital
of AbuHamed. One of the next stops is Berber. Hassan, the other passenger,
is even more concerned about the dust than me. He is travelling together
with a young man, his assistent. Hassen tells, that this young man cannot
write at all and read just a little. No education. We eat Tamir, minced
vegetable balls, together. Invite them for bananas and later on for
grape fruit, which I buy in a station from a man sitting in the sand.
Train goes along the river before Abu Hamed and after. Palm tree gardens.
Many stops. People in the stations, selling chai, fruits, few other
things. I buy two teas from a woman.
SAT 31 MAR 2001
Nobody else wants to spend money on tea. She doesn't sell any other,
but brought all her equipment to the station. Sometimes the train stops
in the middle of nowhere in the darkness and a man gets off the train
with a few pieces of luggage. Hassan invites me for fuul, beans, in
the restaurant car. The connection of two waggons is hard core. Without
any protection or safety meanings. Means, where the waggons are connected
you can see the rails and the sand. Doors open too. Have some tea. Later
on a family enters the compartment. Two small children. Hassan and the
new passenger are talking all the time. The later in a really loud voice.
Can't stand it any longer and leave the compartment.Stay at the doors
and look out into the desert.