It's back to Khartoum this morning - and let me just say there's nothing like spending a day in the hands of the Humanitarian Air Service.
You don't know budget airline until you have experienced this: there is no ticket system. You just get on if your name it on the list. If you arrive early enough you can write your name on the bottom of the list in the hope that someone doesn't turn up. You then carry all your baggage right up to the plane and it is ceremoniously dumped back onto the Tarmac at the end of your journey.
There is no schedule, you are informed the night before what time to arrive at the aiport and if you are lucky the plane will take off sometime in the following 8 hours. I won't even go into the massive chunks of plastic missing from the emergency exit seals, but let's just say it's not exactly a nervous flyer's idea of a relaxing morning...
In their defense (and because, deep down, we do love them) they are also the world's only budget airline where "free" actually means free: they ferry us scruffy aid workers around all of Sudan for nothing!
So - Khartoum. I like Khartoum because a lot of things suddenly become so much clearer to me after I visit (others, of course, simply become even more perplexing).
At the African Union's shiny new offices, I discover that there are no working telephones. Or faxes. Or emails.
Interesting... So that might explain some of the organisation's, ehemmmm, communications problems we come across in the field.
In another meeting, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture (or maybe Finance?) proudly tells me that "here at Ministry, we do lots of reports. And studies, lots of studies. And we play with figures." It takes a lot of effort to ignore the irony of this unfortunate translation, but I manage to vigorously nod my head in agreement.
Can't wait to find out which other gems I could stumble across in this captivating city tomorrow...
Tags: Sudan, Darfur, aid worker, Khartoum, Humanitarian Air Service, African Union, Ministry official