Saturday, April 08, 2006

Public Diplomacy

[I find myself in a bit of a tricky situation. All the things that I want to say and tell you about the situation here I’m disallowed from saying. Namely, because it’ll be better for me (read: alive and in the country) if I don’t. So, some fair warning lest you think I’ve become passive, uninteresting and without opinion. (You should be so lucky!)]

Arrived at five Thursday morning and Khartoum from the air is unimpressive and, well, dark. We went straight from the airport to the team house which is a five-bedroom, concrete behemoth that was originally built for a Dutch company during the colonial period. Anywhere from three to twelve people live here at any given time. I’ll be here until I get a travel permit to go to Darfur.

In the light of day – and there certainly is a lot of light – Khartoum is dusty, dry and hot. Not as hot as I had been led to believe but everyone says the temperatures will climb. The air is full of a fine, red dust that settles absolutely everywhere. The mosquitoes here are less like the vengeful kamikaze bombers in Indonesia and more like lethargic teenagers hanging out at the mall. They hover, they pretend to be interested but I have yet to be bitten.

Timing of arrival couldn’t have been better. Arrive Thursday, work for half a day. Friday is the weekend, Saturday the entire staff took a boat trip up the Nile, and Monday is Mohammed’s birthday and so a public holiday. In my first week here I’ll have managed to barely work half a day.

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