Before arriving in Sudan, I had read about the hospitality of its people, and was curious as to how this would look once on the ground. At the same time, some of my family and friends are worried about me travelling in Sudan; after all, the country has had troublesome years with war and a separation of its southern province, which has given the country a bad reputation. I arrive in the middle of the night, and my first encounters with the Sudanese are OK. But the next day to the moment I would step on the plane out of the country, I will be surprised over and over again by the Sudanese, to a point that I realize that, besides the great sights the country has to offer, its people are the actual star of the show. I have countless examples of how the Sudanese have showed that their legendary hospitality is still very much alive. I receive countless cups of tea, and invitations to people's homes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. People come up to me in the middle of the street, putting their hand on their heart while proclaiming "Welcome to Sudan", and: "You are home here". People asking where I am from, and then reciting their knowledge about my country - with a surprising accuracy.
One example of the many occasions where the Sudanese took me by surprise, is the time my travel companion and I are travelling on a minivan with a very old lady, who is accompanied by what we think to be her son. While the lady appears very vulnerable and fragile, sitting with her face against the window, sometimes making me wonder if she is still alive, the son has a problem with his foot which he cannot place on the ground. They appear very poor; they are traveling with one of those cheap Chinese bags which is falling apart and which cannot be held by its handles anymore. We help the old lady whenever she has to get out or into the minivan, and wonder what more we can do for them, as they evoke a deep sense of compassion. When we change bus, the mother and son come with us. When they get off, we wave goodbye to them; the son now makes a gesture, indicating he paid for our bus fare. We feel humble and small, and helpless - there is no way now to give them anything, other than just waving a sign of deep appreciation through the window. We are both deeply touched.
It often happens that we asked for information about something. On the last day, we ask different people about different things we want to buy to take home. On both occasions, the people we asked, gave us their own stuff, and thought it was evident they would do so; after all, we are the foreigner and they are supposed to take care of us. Such kindness, generosity, and warmth, experienced over and over again, makes us feel welcome to a point we feel at home in the country. Which, in fact, one guy told me on one of my first days in the country: "You are welcome in Sudan, and we will do everything to make you feel at home here and make your visit as pleasant as possible". It happened through small and big gestures of taxi drivers, of hotel staff, of people in the street, of shopkeepers, of bus drivers, fellow passengers, people in the street with whom we drank tea - and many, many more. The people are clearly not used to individual visitors; the few that do make it, are treated like valuable guests and with a warmth unparalleled elsewhere. The Sudanese strive to make their visitors feel at home - and indeed, that is how we felt.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Sudanese people (Sudan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Sudanese people.
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