The Train North
Abu Dis Travel Blog› entry 62 of 81 › view all entries
The train lurched into the Khartoum station at 4:00 a.m. and we quickly scrambled aboard to claim space. In Europe, sets of padded bench seats facing each other held up to six passengers but third class in the Third World did not offer such comfort. When our train pulled out at 6:45 every row held five abreast. Even more people slouched on the floor and stood in the aisles. With continuous assertiveness and fortitude Scott, I, and the three Australians fended off those masses to hold our space for most of the day.
We spent hours gazing at empty desert on our right and cultivated green fields along the Nile to our left. Fine sand rolled in through open windows to cake us, making our hair stiff and dry like the Africans'. Our dusted beards, eyebrows, and eyelids made us appear ghostly.
The five chaotic aborigines huddled in the row behind us were Dinkas from southern Sudan. Their skin was darker than most - like the Samburus in Kenya. They smoked hashish from a bone pipe and laughed hysterically exposing gapped teeth which were bright white and badly bucked . A young girl among them wore a bulky two-inch wide ivory bracelet and sold me the antiquated treasure for about five dollars worth of Sudanese Pounds.
The train came to a halt somewhere between Abu Dis and Dagash. As we brooded in the desert rumors trickled that the diesel locomotive had broken down. The night was cold but the stillness of my hammock strung between baggage racks made for a good sleep. Many of the passengers, including Dave, slept on the sand beside the tracks.