20 April 2008

Port of Suakin, Sudan

Anchored at the Port of Suakin, Sudan, Red Sea, Africa.

695 Miles to the Suez Canal!!

Where in the world is 'Team Sandpiper?'

Bleached camel bones on the sides of the roads. Donkey carts delivering water. Houses that look like a fort I built out of sheets as a child. Crazy hot and intense sun. Buildings made out of stone and coral. And the largest country in Africa. Yes, we have made it to Sudan.

I had originally not felt comfortable stopping in Sudan due to the violence in the Darfur region, not because I don't feel safe but because I don't want to support the violence. Then I thought about the 28 murders that occurred over the weekend in Chicago. And as we don't plan to visit Chicago anytime soon, we are planning a trip back to the USA. So... here we are anchored in Suakin, Sudan.

We arrived yesterday afternoon along with S/V Shiraz and S/V My Chance and were immediately greeted by Mohammad, who handled our check-in process, filled our jerry cans of diesel and water, and exchange $50US for 100 Sudanese pounds. The town of Suakin is small and surrounded by crumbled stone and coral buildings. When we asked Mohammad about them, he told us that "They fell down from just being old."

This area has had a checkered history as a trading center since the 10th century BCE. It was actually the last slave trading post in the world and used as such until the end of WWII. The people are EXTREMELY poor. Poor like I have never seen, and will most likely never see again, but also very friendly. A big smile goes a long way. I got many "Hello my sister" with a smile and wave. I love my African brothers.

Today we went to the big city (pop: 3 million) of Port Sudan. They have an excellent market where we were quite the freak show. We were told that taking photos is frowned upon and we may even need special permission. In years previous, 'cruisers' have spent the night in jail for taking photos. But we were able to take a few photos with the locals blessings and sneak a few more.

We went to the Palace Hotel for a surprisingly fast internet connection and nice lunch. Then back to the market before going back to Suakin on the bus. Once back in Suakin we turned in our shore passes to Mohammad, who returned our passports and granted us our cruising permit for Sudan.

We are off tomorrow to the next anchorage only 12 miles away. We hear a southerly is blowing so we need to continue to make tracks while we can.

One Love
Amy and Tom

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