Wadi Halfa, Sudan

  • Date
  • 15 October 2000

Life here continues to move slower than molasses. I took half an hour to eat a grapefruit and pomegranate this afternoon, since I have all the time in the world to take pleasure in peeling and devouring these succulent fruits, so delicious out here in the burning, dry heat. Few homes in Wadi Halfa have running water and our hotel is without, but fortunately electricity works a few hours each day. I realize things could be much worse, but the hotel’s roaches, cobwebs, filth and stench of the hole-in-the-floor toilets make it difficult to feel fortunate.

The hotel, complete with a sand floor that is never cleaned, just brushed by bent-over old women, who leave behind razor blades and fish bones, has communal sleeping with 20 beds in two courtyards. People sleep directly under the stars as the heat makes a roof unbearable. A few small, private rooms, formed with tin sheeting, line the outside of the communal spots. Each private room has three single beds, a coat rack missing most spokes and a blue metal table. The stained mattresses are layered with sand and no sheets cover any beds. No doors have handles or locks.

The “showers”, a term used loosely by the middle-aged owner, are three cement rooms with a small window, cobwebs and drain. Buckets, scattered in the sand near the showers and toilets, are used for fetching water. I cut off the bottom of a plastic water bottle to scoop liquid from a bucket and douse myself. In this heat, even a primitive shower is refreshing, even if the water stinks. A large, square water drum sits in the rear corner and has not been full since we arrived. I fear I will find it empty each time I visit.