We left the Goha Hotel in Gondar with cars that received a proper wash and clean up the previous day. After about 180 km we arrived at the border posts between Ethiopia and Sudan.
The Ethiopian passport procedure went relatively fast but the customs checkout took a while – with the officials wanting to check engine numbers as well as chassis numbers of all the cars.
This was repeated on the Sudanese site where the customs procedures took a full 1.5 hours. The teams first had to get their visas stamped at the immigration office then produce the carnets at the customs office. There a lengthy procedure took place by 2 customs officials filling out a variety of forms.
With the absence of any computerised systems everything had to be done in hand writing and maybe the concentration required by these customs official to write from right to left rather than from left to right, added to the lengthy procedure.
We then were given 2 forms and had to go to the cashier’s office behind the building to pay a God knows what for fee. The cashier was also in the slow- right to left mode -but hammered the final stamp onto the documents with great vigour and speed which almost perforated the important documents.
From there one goes back to the customs department where the officials – after seeing proof of payment – proceed to fill out the final forms.
The temperature by that time was 39 degrees Celsius which caused an additional adjustment to the team’s pain level.
The final bang (another overhead stamp swing) was received after 1.5 hours and the teams jumped into their cars heading into Sudan only to be stopped some 1km later by the first of many police stops.
With Lipstick arriving last they where confronted by 2 plain clothed policemen storming towards them and shouting passport passport.
Within 5 minutes of panic attack searching for Willy’s passport team Lipstick realised that an urgent U turn needed to be done as the cops also shouted back back…
As we approached the customs office – where Willy’s precious passport was last seen , a customs official was storming towards Lipstick swinging the red German passport with great joy over his head and handing it over to Willy with a broad smile.
Lipstick’s air conditioner was thereafter put into maximum capacity in order to reduce Willy’s sweat attack and to increase the difference between outside and inside temperature to some 20 degrees. Its midday in Sudan and the outside climbed to 43 degrees………………
Off the teams headed towards Gedaref where there first task was to fill up with petrol only to find out that all banks were closed , petrol stations only accept cash – meaning only Sudanese pounds – which none of the teams had..
Fortunately a nearby hotel receptionist with minor knowledge of the English language was able to exchange American dollars into Sudanese Pounds -allowing himself a nice profit by offering a rate of 2.5 Pounds per Dollar versus the official 2.88 rate.
Cars filled – the teams decided that Gedaref was unable to offer either a camping site or a suitable hotel and headed North towards Khartoum.
After 92 km a rocky formation on the right site of the road was identified as a suitable wild card camping site – shielding the cars and team members from the traffic on this main artery road between central and northern Sudan.
Camp was set up between rocks and strategically parked cars forming a sort of an atrium.
Fire was lid – steaks were defrosted in record time due to the ambient temperature – and a good time had by all thanks to the reserve of ice cubes which cooled both water and whiskey down to acceptable levels.
After sunset a slight breeze of wind reduced the discomfort levels and a good night’s rest was had by all.