We had about two days to spend in Khartoum. As usual, one of them was spent at the mechanic and handling other logistical matters. The second day, however, was free – so we decided to make the most of it and explore the Sudan’s capital. But what do you do in a city where you’re, quite literally, the only tourist?
Here’s how it played out for us:
Explore the remains of Al-Shifa, a pharmaceutical factory that was bombed in 1998 by the U.S. administration for production of nerve gas and suspected ties to Al Queda. The Sudanese government decided to preserve it in the exact same state as it was after the bombing, so you can still walk among the remains and rubble as if it was the “day after”. As for souvenirs, you can even get a few bottles of Paracetomol and other miscellaneous drugs that are still laying around all over – 13 years later.
p.s. No connections to Al Queda or production of nerve gas has been found after the bombing. Apparently, Clinton just needed a distraction from the Lewinsky scandal.
Stumble across a wrestling match taking outside a local market. Be the only tourist among several hundred spectators who are all gathered ’round a rink in the sand to watch teams of wrestlers come together to battle it out who’s the strongest. Spend a couple of hours there until one of the wrestlers gets upset because of the judge’s call, becomes angry, hits a cop, and then gets pulled away by the rest of the police force that’s there to maintain peace. Decide to leave shortly thereafter.
Visit a local market to explore what the people around here buy and use. Explore the collection of beds (due to the heat, most people end up putting their beds outside and sleeping outdoors), teapots and other necessities for life in Sudan.
Stop at a tire shop on the way back to the hotel to fix up our spare wheel. While the guy there is working on it, join 20 other onlookers to watch an American action movie on a small TV that’s sitting outside. Cheer with them when the bad guys get what they deserve and the good guy gets the girl. Apparently, Patrick Swayze is a big hit here.