Just noticed that this never got published for some reason. This was supposed to be the introduction to my “Camping 101” story.
Early in January 1980, I got a call from my travelling buddy, Tim. He asked if I wanted to go camping. In Sudan. The expression “jumping in at the deep end” comes to mind.
I had never gone camping in my life. But Tim was always fun.
“Sure”, I said, “when do we leave?”
Tim already had a sleeping bag and he borrowed another for me. I had to get heavy duty walking shoes. For me this was a challenge. In those days, I admit, I was neurotic about my appearance, and “sensible shoes” had never featured in my wardrobe.
I loved travelling with Tim for lots of reasons. For one thing, he always managed to obtain free tickets and often he got an upgrade thrown in, although this time we got to enjoy Swissair economy class. It was very efficient, and we arrived on time in Khartoum.
These days Khartoum is described as “boisterous and flashy”, which is hard to imagine. In 1980 it was anything but.
While waiting for the rest of our group to arrive, mostly from England, Tim and I set off to view the confluence of the Blue and the White Nile which we imagined ought to be rather spectacular. Stanley and Livingston and all that.
It was apparently the wrong time of year. In the dry season it was just two very muddy rivers running into one another. Disappointing, but never mind. Tomorrow our real trip would get underway….
We were flying to Juba, in the south, where we would start a two-week journey in a Bedford truck, and I was going camping for the first time.
Tim’s inspiration for this trip was the book of famous German photographer Leni Riefenstal.
The Nuba people, as depicted by her, seemed colourful and physically beautiful. Tim and I were both fascinated by people who were different, and we were intrigued to meet these people and see where and how they lived.
The journey we were about to embark upon would take us to the land of the Nuba.
On the overland return north, we hoped to see the Roman ruins at Meroe.
A little preliminary research would not have gone amiss. We did not yet have the luxury of the Internet, but it’s hard to believe, looking back, that we were so uninformed in our expectations….