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soggy falafel and mangoes

选择阅读字体大小:[ ] 时间:2015年05月22日 09:18 来源:未知 投稿 作者:Katya Luca 终审编辑:心雅文学网

soggy falafel and mangoes

By Katya Luca.

We were two naive human (vegan) beings thinking we could travel for six months through Africa and survive without consequences. The obvious question you might ask is: “Did you end up eating meat?” or something of that sort, throwing your predisposed notion of what “vegan” might be like into our faces, and guess what, you are completely wrong. Food was the last thing on our minds, we never had to worry about food running out, or vegan food being unavailable. In the Sahara desert, in a little oasis town that tourists have forgotten, we managed to secure us a lovely vegan meal from a hotel/campsite/restaurant establishment that hadn’t seen tourists before us in months. We managed to buy the necessities at the worst markets imaginable, markets that were half-flooded by rain, markets with no variety of vegetables, markets where people simply didn’t want to sell to foreigners. We even managed to find food in a desert town in Sudan, where life in the hottest months consists of drinking extremely sugary drinks and lying in bed waiting for the sun to go down. This magical place is called Wadi Halfa. When we look at the history of this town (and not just its Wikipedia page), we can only learn a third of what it has been like for the inhabitants of the worst climate imaginable. Psychologically we endured pain, physically we endured heat torture. Having survived this, the rest of the way was a piece of cake… kind of.

Our mission was simple: prove to anyone who bothers to look us up on our website that being vegan is not restricting, that being vegan is more than just barely possible. Two real people can drive from London to Cape Town as vegans and survive, so what is the excuse of a lazy office worker who says “being vegan is hard”. We also wanted to meet up with local African vegans, which we managed to find in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa (sadly we didn’t end up meeting with the last two!). Here is our website: www.veganwithoutfrontiers.com

Before Africa I was living in London, Chicago, Prague and at some point in Russia. After Africa I moved back to Prague. It was a culture shock coming back to Europe… again, you would say “Because life is so different here!” Got you again. No, life is quite similar. In big cities people go to work, people go to shops, people have families, they laugh, they cry, they are born and they die. The biggest shock was the awful weather.

Here are my diary entries from the period we spent in Wadi Halfa, the hottest week of my life.

11 August 2014, Ferry from Aswan (Egypt) to Wadi Halfa (Sudan)


Welcome to 18 hours of blazing hot hell

These toilets smell like fresh poo and stale piss. These are possibly the worst toilets I’ve ever used. They are squat toilets, which on a rocking ferry is not exactly pleasant, plus they don’t flush, plus they are dark because one of the lights broke. And they flood once every few hours. We are on a ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa. Our “second class” tickets actually constitute a place on the front deck, which was sold to us as being just for us foreigners (me, Jon, Jack, Tony and the Spanish couple). But after a while more people came, including a shouting crew member whose blankets we were using (by accident) and started pulling them from under us. Then some more travelers came and more men – I am guessing crew members. Exclusive deck space… my ass. So we are out in the open sun when it’s +45 degrees and little shade, hard steel floor (no seats or anything) and we are using our bags as pillows. Probably the roughest night. The night was actually cold and I had to be wrapped up in order to survive. Add that to limited water and food, my face burning in the sun and all of us piled on the floor like sardines in a can. Oh and the toilets… oh lord. I got violently sick from sun/heat exhaustion the following day. 

But can you imagine, unmoving water and around us – the desert. Just orange and yellow sand, nothing else, no people, no trees, and in the morning Abu Simbel rising from the sands like a stoic eternal grave, reminding us of our humanity and our pathetic uselessness.

15 August 2014, Wadi Halfa, Sudan


Wadi Halfa seen from above from a mini-mountain. The pink hotel was ours.

1 dry falafel bread pocket
2 pieces of white watermelon
2 pieces of an orange
Sips of pear soda (thrown the rest out, too sweet)
Coffee with no sugar
1 fresh falafel pocket
1 bottle of pepsi
1/3 of a glass of mango juice

No cigarettes yet (had 2 in the evening), no alcohol (none to be had in Sudan), no doxycycline yet (had it later) and 1 argument.

We are stuck in Wadi Halfa. This is a very poor desert town. The buildings are tiny mud shacks. There is one “hotel”: don’t be fooled by the bright pink paint job, this is just one step away from an Egyptian prison cell (from what I’ve seen in Al Jazeera documentaries). The rooms have two beds, with no bedding, just one sheet. We understood later that you don’t need covers or anything of the sort, the heat is so intense that the majority of the afternoons were spent lying down, trying not to move, sweating profusely into the bed and drinking litres of water. After drinking 3 huge bottles of water I only peed twice in one day. The room has no glass window, just a broken mosquito net and wooden shutters. The ceiling fan is about to break off so we were too scared to turn it on high. There is no air movement, it is +45 outside, inside maybe +42. The air is so hot that laundry dries within one hour. The toilets are public but at least women and men are separated. They consist of cubicles that are a combination of squat toilet with frogs leaping out of the hole, shower head hanging over the squat toilet, and another tap with water leading into the toilet (the water is used instead of toilet paper, obviously).


The hotel from inside the yard – people sleep here outside at night.

Today we argued all afternoon, but afterwards we had some un-sugared coffee and moved into a “cooler” room with home-made air con (that consists of water being distributed by a fan), a fridge and a private bathroom (same squat+shower combo though plus here we have geckos). The quality of all this is the same as before, but it feels cooler and more private now, which is nice.

16 August 2014, Wadi Halfa, Sudan

Friendly “cab” driver, speed about 15 km/h 

1 cup of strong sweet black coffee from coffee shack
3 pieces of watermelon
1 orange
Half an order of ful (beans) with bread
1 Pepsi
1 guava juice
1 falafel pita sandwich

Went to the coffee shack today with Jack and then to the market.

The coffee shack was fascinating. There were all these local men hanging out, having tea or coffee, and some of them had snacks, some sort of pastry. The lady who served coffee was very interesting, very plump woman in a massive ornate robe/dress/scarf, sitting on her chair surrounded by plenty of pots, glasses, jars, serving everyone everything you could ever think of, no help, just her. She also provided conversation to all the men, gossiped, shouted, laughed. I was the only other woman, but nobody paid attention to the little blonde western girl, the men were older and just carried on talking, some politely said hello, some asked a few questions, but no hassle, no annoying stares, nothing. I am guessing these old men have respect for women, unlike younger generations. The younger men in Sudan are not too different from the Egyptian boys: gawking, trying to chat, staring. Still, the vibes here are much softer, slower, relaxed. I don’t stress about anything here, even though we are stuck here indefinitely.

Egyptian young men are very beautiful, strikingly so. I can see how they steal western wives just with their looks. It is something about the thin, tall men with darker skin with bright dark eyes and jet black hair.

Hydrating mid-day, notice the sweat dripping off my face

The market was the same as the first time we went. Bought 12 oranges, half a kilo of tomatoes, a baggie of little lemons, and some peppers. Overall quite cheap, but since we are running out of cash, cheap is becoming a relative term.

17 August 2014, Wadi Halfa, Sudan

1 sweet coffee
2 oranges
1 falafel pocket with veggies
1 and a half falafel pocket with veggies
1 and a half glasses of mango juice
1 Fanta

I forgot to write about how Jack broke a plastic chair yesterday, it was quite hilarious! We were in the town center sitting around eating and drinking and feeding the local starving stand-offish cats, and he suddenly collapsed into a heap onto the ground! The plastic chair was just so ridiculously old. The old men sitting beside us had a good laugh but it was all innocent and pleasant.

The desert and parts of Wadi Halfa

We were invited into Mazar’s house for tea today (Mazar is our “fixer” here, he is helping us get our cars back). He has a fascinating personality, he is in his 30s, he has quite a young and beautiful wife, and he told us that she is studying at university so they don’t have children yet. She appeared to be quite happy, and for this country they seem to be very progressive, she didn’t even pay attention that her head covering was slipping off. I have to say, Sudanese women dress in such beautiful garments, the colors and patterns are just out of this world! Mazar’s house is gorgeous, with a big shaded area outside with plants and seating. Probably one of the few houses in this desert town that doesn’t reek of poverty and squalor. Wadi Halfa has a fascinating history, with lots of oppression, massive famines and many people dead, but as I checked Wikipedia on the crappy internet today, not much is even known to people in the outside world. 

18 August 2014, Wadi Halfa, Sudan

1 sweet coffee
1 small apple
half an orange
cherry soda
Ful with added onion, tomato paste and salt, bread, falafel, baba ganoush
2 mango glasses
half a falafel sandwich

I was very sleepy this morning so I didn’t go with the others to climb the mini-mountain at dawn. Eventually I got up because I knew we had to go to the market before the sun got too hot, and we bought apples, oranges, peppers, tomatoes and carrots. On the way into town we met Mazar again, more smiley and happy than usual, wearing his Western clothes this time. On the way back we were greeted by some older men who asked us questions where we are from and where we are going. Very interested and so friendly. One man spoke very good English. The guy we buy our sodas from asked if we are getting on the ferry tomorrow, but we had to disappoint him: we are waiting for our barge with the cars instead.

When I die, I better not have any goddamn regrets!

19 August 2014, Wadi Halfa, Sudan

So sun-burned

Few sips of pepsi
Half an apple
Half an orange
1 portion of pita ful
1 and a half pita falafel ful ketchup concoction
2 mango juice, one with sugar

We went to the lake. I had to get up so freaking early. I had a weird dream about a cemetery full of my dead ancestors, and then my aunt was there and it was pouring rain and we tried to get a tuk tuk but they refused to serve us.

The lake has moved up onto more land, it is very gross green, covered in insects, but I still stepped into it. It is so shallow that when I walked into the lake, it looked like I was walking on water. We found a dead fish and there was a small fish inside the dead fish, I pulled it out. Also found a dead dragonfly. I love my dead things collection.

Pile of rubbish consisting mostly of skulls

Today I’ve been feeling really slow and sluggish. It might be because it is starting to get humid on top of being really hot, or because my muscles ache, or because I am bored and I don’t like my book, or because I simply didn’t sleep enough today. Any of those. I was thinking of going to the port tomorrow but I doubt I will have enough energy for it.

We also had hookah today. I hate smoking hookah and I never thought I would agree to it but then today when Jack brought it up, I did agree, and all because I thought it would make more sense to smoke between two people and I would just have a puff other than having my own to smoke because I don’t like the damn thing in the first place!

We are supposed to get our cars tomorrow. I really hope this happens. I can’t be here any more, it is frustrating.

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