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Khartoum off off off the beaten track

Khartoum’s trendiest café, the SOS Children’s Village and urban farms on Tuti Island, we saw it all. Not enough oddities? What about the Greek Athletic Club, the Jewish Cemetery or sailing the Blue Nile under a star lit sky?

Sailing the Blue Nile under in a starry starry night

The Jewish Cemetery in Khartoum hides in a small alley full of car repair shops. Immediately upon entering it was not clear that this was a graveyard. Only when one of the men working in the garages took a rag and brushed the garbage and dust off one of the tombstone, a name written in Hebrew appeared. We were shocked, the place reminded of a garbage dumb, full of broken car parts, plastic trash and dust. How did we learn about it?  Tom, who we met at the New Year’s Eve Party mentioned a Jewish cemetery the evening he took us sailing on the Nile. I quizzed him and found out that there was still a small Jewish community in Khartoum and that Israel prime minister politician Benjamin Netanyahu was born in Sudan.

Jewish Cemetery of Khartoum, a worker from one of garages cleaned the tombs stones for us to read

Tuti Island

sits in the middle of Khartoum, between the Blue and White Nile. Until recently it could only be reached by ferry and thus life moved a lot slower than in the rest of Khartoum. Large areas are still fields and agricultural land. One day a particularly charming taxi driver took us through Khartoum, he was originally from Darfur, this of course aroused our curiosity. He spoke English well, so when we decided to explore Omdurman we asked him to take us. He stopped on Tuti Island and explored the fields where young men labored in the fields, uprooting vegetable and arranging them in neat piles. The backbreaking work pays hardly anything.

Tuti Island, urban Farming a la Khartoum

 

Tuti Island, farm hands laboring away for next to nothing

 

The Greek Athletic Club

was an opportunity we certainly did not want to miss, since we decided not to rush around but to check out every corner of Khartoum. The owner of our Hotel Acropole is Greek that gave us access to this tranquil oasis. The tennis court looked pretty worn but the pool was in top shape. Food and drinks are served in the poolside restaurant, a very relaxing afternoon.

Greek swimming club

 Trendy Khartoum

The trip to he Greek Athletic Club took us to a different, livelier part of Khartoum, than the one where our Hotel Acropole was. After asking lots of people for directions we finally found what we were looking for: the super trendy Café Ozone, a little oasis of green in dusty Khartoum. It seems as if a huge roundabout was turned into a garden café.

We loved the yummy cakes, sandwiches, pasta – finally food that was familiar to us. The clientele is Khartoum’s wealthy and beautiful and expats working in the city. It was not our only visit.

Cafe Ozone set in a green round-about

the who is who of Khartoum hang out at Cafe Ozone

Khartoum not made for walking

We arrived in Khartoum with the very naïve idea that we “gonna check out the town” by strolling around. It cannot be repeated often enough, Khartoum is not made for walking. First of all it really, really spreads out, often you walk along a single wall circling a property forever, sidewalks are often blocked by parked cars, trash, random piles of sand, besides foreigners walking are given odd looks. This ain’t right. They are supposed to be driven around.

Sidewalk of Khartoum

Sidewalks of Khartoum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOS children’s village

How we got the idea to visit the SOS children’s village?  The mother of a student of mine told me about it. A quick mail to the German organization and we were all set. Kelly and I were received by the director of the village, Mr Abdel Kareem, a very charismatic, kind man and Lena the assistant of the national director.

SOS Children’s Village in Khartoum

During a long talk in his office we learned that the children, most of them born into wedlock, come from a local orphanage at a very young age. The budget of the SOS children’s village usually allows to take in 3-4 children per year. The village is a huge compound of eight houses, about 8 children stay in a house with a mother. They attend local schools, the girls can stay until the age of 23. We had brought tons coloring pens and balloons for the children, very much in demand for the many birthday parties.

Mr AbdelKareem, the director of the SOS village with one of the groups we visited

 

SOS Children’s Village Khartoum one of the units

I think it is fair to say that very very few tourists every set their foot in these places, all of which we enjoyed tremendously

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