The things you have to do to travel in Sudan

Well, I got my visa to get into Sudan and its good for a month and now I have to apply for a permanent stay visa, which requires a copy of my diploma.  My diploma is somewhere deep in storage.  I guess Sudan doesn’t allow uneducated foreigners to stay in their country, just a heads up so if you don’t have a diploma don’t plan on staying for more than month. 

Even though I have a visa for Sudan, as a foreigner I have to have a travel permit to go anywhere.  So I’m headed to Juba this week, down South and I applied for a travel permit.  Yesterday I recieved it.  My name is correct as is my passport number; however, I’m male, 168 cm which is about 5’7 I think and I have black hair and black eyes.  When we pointed this out to the regional Nairobi office who secured the permit they informed us that even if we went back to get it changed they wouldn’t change it so why bother.  I hope this doesn’t mean I have to get a sex change.  It’s cost probhibitive and I don’t think I can get it done before I have to travel.

I was planning on living with my friend here, who already has an apartment and works for the UN, but her landlord wouldn’t let me move in without being on the lease, so I had to look at apartments,  they want so much money for such crappy apartments.  I finally found one that works, it does have a spare bedroom so visitors welcome, Khartoum is an accompanied post for MC-Scotland (that’s a long story and will be featured in the Blog behind the Blog) so if you can get a visa and want to come feel free.  I hear they are looking for election observers.  Anyway, I will pay or rather MC-Scotland will pay $1,400 for an apartment that is smaller than my condo and not as nice.  My condo only rent for $1,295.  Sudan really needs architects, the apartments are really poorly laid out.  I looked at one apartment that had a bathroom off the balcony.  So in order to use it you had to walk out onto the balcony and then into the bathroom.  Silliness.  Another apartment I looked at you walked into the living room which was crammed with furniture, including the dining room table, the kitchen was open, but about the size of a small closet, then back through the bedroom to the bathroom and the washing machine sat right outside the bathroom.  It was this linear layout.  A lot of the apartments were incredibly dark.  The one thing I don’t really like about the place I finally decided on is that the balcony has grating on it, it’s very prison like.  But as the heat descends I doubt I will be sitting on the balcony much.

As I was looking at apartments there are a ton of unfinished buildings around that people live in.  There are a couple of families in the unfinished building next to us.  When I looked at my friends apartment there was a make shift lean to that a family was living at out back; the contrast everywhere is amazing; gaudy houses, with poor people, really poor people, living right next door.

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