As if we needed proof that we were visiting one of the world’s poorest countries, the 1 hour bus journey from Suakin to Port Sudan was an eye-opener I’ll never forget.
The road itself was straight, well kept, though littered with bits of tyre along the entire stretch. It’s a coastal road that takes in views of the Red Sea, including the many wrecks in the coral and shallow water. It was the townships of refugees, however, that made the journey so memorable. On either side of the road, seemingly placed in random spots, were camps of refugees. Their houses were made of little more than bits of cardboard and other rubbish I guess they can lay their hands on. The camps were possibly based around water sources as every now and then we’d pass by a small, lush plantation of vegetables. A little girl who appeared to be riding on the bus with her mum, hopped off in the middle of nowhere, holding a very large sack of rice, presumably picked up from one of the aid lorries. She wasn’t travelling with her mum, she was on her own. She could have been no more than five years old.
Many years ago I visited Guatemala and my abiding memory of the mountain towns I passed through was just how poor the locals appeared to be. Well, Guatemala is a second-world country and Sudan is a third-world country, so that might give you an idea of the extent of desperation in these camps. Kids so poor they’re playing football with a stone. You should have seen the local boys’ eyes light up when we gave them a little ball to play with!
Surprisingly Port Sudan was as ‘affluent’ as any other port town with a university, internet cafes and hotels, albeit on a smaller scale than a western city equivalent.
What really makes this city though is the people. I spent most of the day in an internet cafe whilst Liz went off and had a laugh with the locals. Her and Debs of ‘Eeyore’ found ‘tailor’ street and got themselves some clothes made for next to nothing.
Encouragingly the local women seem to be treated as equals, dressing in some wonderfully colourful fabrics and joining in the banter with the visiting tourists.
Port Sudan appeared to be full of very happy and content locals. Of course I took my camera and got some snaps of this interesting town. Oh, and that comment I made about Sudanese people not liking their photograph being taken? Utter tosh! Check these pics out of the Port Sudan people and places.
I started with a little visit to the local butcher. These lads loved playing up to the camera!
The old tut-tut is a popular mode of transport and can be seen on every street corner…
Here are some more snaps of street life in Port Sudan. See if you can spot the obligatory couple of men holding hands.
Did you spot the woman in the previous picture?