A Marvelous Day
The Republic of the Sudan
February 12, 2020
I had planned a destination for today. I never arrive. Instead I make a series of unplanned stops along the Nile.
It’s a marvelous day.
Across the Nile into Omdurman, I spot a sign for a Fish Market. The traditional market is a noisy scene of blood and guts. Busy fish mongers butcher and clean, chop and slice, weigh and sell the daily catch. The diligent butchers barely acknowledge my presence. A few smile.
Along the busy highway that runs parallel to the Nile, I pass an array of fruit and vegetable stands. The greengrocers meticulously sort and arrange their displays of oranges, melons and tomatoes into neat piles and pyramids. The powerful desert sun transforms the dull and ordinary into the bright and irresistible. The salesmen are tolerant yet pay little attention to my camera.
There’s a large steel hull beached in an open area that attracts young couples who “want to be alone.” Small groups of young women appear. Despite their conservative attire, the university software engineer students eagerly chat with my driver. I don’t understand a word of Arabic, but I pay close attention. I smile. Ever so gently I raise my camera a tiny bit. And smile. The girls agree to pose. Oh, how their dark eyes and enigmatic gaze pierce the narrow gap in the black hijab!
Down the road, the furniture makers invite me to tea. One old man weaves a “rope” of natural fibers into a seat cushion for a hand painted chair. He proudly faces the camera. Other craftsmen display their goods. The boatbuilders are absent.
A lone farmer repairs his irrigation pipe. He waves. His cows are indifferent.
Finally, a late lunch at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the broad and sparkling Nile. I relax with my coffee. Nearby a group of female medical students boisterously celebrate the completion of their exams. Naturally, I join the party.
An unplanned journey today. No monuments. No museums. No memorials.
A remarkable day spent with kind, happy and industrious people.