Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Journal Entry for January 17, 2004
Got up early this morning after another night sleeping with the windows open. (It is gradually warming but still in lower 60s during night.) Went down to the shore of the Blue Nile to take a waterbus across to Tuti Island. Tuti sits in the middle of the conjunction of the Blue and White Niles. Until 20 years ago, the three Arab tribes that lived there didn't let anyone visit their island, not even other Sudanese. It is easy to understand why. In the middle of a desert, they have great soil (silt carried down the Nile) and a steady supply of water. They grow fruits, vegetables and sorghum year round. They only "import" from Khartoum cooking and motor oil and a few other things like softdrinks. They even make their own bricks from river mud, dung and Nile water. (I saw several places where people were making bricks by hand as they would have thousands of years ago. One of them appeared drunk, as I might well be too making bricks all day. Expert brick makers can make up to $8 a day.)
They now let people onto their island and there are a large number of southern and western Sudanese that do much of the labor. I walked around with my bodyguard Hashim. He had scouted ahead and led me across the whole place. The sun was a winter sun but intense nevertheless. We walked for fours hours steady. I returned beat and still am. But I had to do an interview with the editor of a local Arabic newspaper this afternoon. He asked me questions for 1 1/2 hours. He started by telling me be was invited to be with the US Marines in Lebanon many years ago and ended by assuring me he likes America. We'll see what he does with my answers.
Note: I had spent the holidays back home with my family and returned after the New Year.