After a few days we can pick up our Saudi visas and we’r very ready to leave Khartoum. We head towards Port Sudan, where we will take a ferry to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). On the road we visit several ancient archaeological sites (Nagaa and musawwarat es-sufra). We spent a night just next to the pyramids of Meroe. It’s magical experience. I can’t think of another place in the world where it’s possible to sleep just next to buildings that are a few millennia old. They’re remains from the once great kingdom of Kush. Which formed a link between the Mediterranean world and sub-Saharan Africa.
The next day we continue our road to Port Sudan and we end up in what you could call a real desert. Miles and miles we continue in bare, dry lands as far the eye can see. Sometimes you can see some tracks from a truck leading into nowhere. I’m wondering where they lead. The only buildings we see are some small trucker restaurants, which serve basic meals for basic prices. We’re driving through this bare place during “winter”, but even then I’m sweating buckets. I can’t imagine how I would survive this during summertime.
60 km before we reach the coast of the red sea in Suakin (60km under Port Sudan) the inevitable happens: my engine starts to sputter and I rapidly loose power; I ran out of gasoline. After 10.000 km, passing through a lot of remote places, it ironically, finally happens to me on a perfect tarmac road in a land with abundant oil resources. Willem still has some left and drives to the nearest village. I try to stop some trucks but they have all diesel engines. I realize that I still have some fuel left in my cooking stove, just enough to join Willem in the next village. We buy some very expensive jerrycan petrol (twice the normal price) and continue to the next village, 30 km further, where we can fill our tanks up, eat some roasted chicken and find a place in the desert to pitch our tent. Sudan must be one of the easiest places on earth to find wild camping spots.
The following morning we continue our road towards the coast. The road is winding through a narrow valley. All of a sudden I see an old guy with some jugs standing next to the side of the road and I know I have to hit the breaks. With a lot of gesticulation I find out his name, Ahmed, and I decide to give him a ride to Suakin. I can feel right away that he’s never been a passenger on a motorbike before: pressing very hard with his legs against mine, counter balancing in every bend. But every time I look in my rear mirrors I see he has a big grin on his face. Or at least I hope it’s a grin and not a weird expression of fear.
He’s cheering and waving to everybody we meet along the road. He’s definitely having a good time. I drop him off close to the market of Suakin. Communication is nearly impossible due to my poor knowledge of Arabic. Thanks to a friendly random translator I find out that he’s transporting goat milk in his jugs to the market. Although his whole appearance is rather humble, he brings out a big roll of Sudanese pounds, very determined to pay me for my services. I kindly refuse several times. He laughs, points to the sky, mumbles a blessing and walks off. I would have loved to know his whole story. The lines in his face are the prove of a somehow, figuratively, rich life. Sometimes it’s a pity you can’t get to know everybody’s story. But at least I could help out an old man with his milk jugs…