From Meroe, we drove straight to a clinic to get our Covid tests done; that one day before departure requirement recently imposed as a knee jerk reaction to Omicron is a real pain in the ass. You want to get more skeptics to get vaxed? Show some fucking carrots – i.e. wave the re-entry test requirement for the vaccinated. Anyway, we did a bit more sightseeing in the city; spent an hour filling out some exit forms; had one final dinner with Osman and then headed for the airport for our 1:30am flight home.
.It was only here that we got a tiny taste of Sudanese bureaucracy – mainly because Osman could not enter the terminal building with us. Check the bags at the counter and then, armed with a stack of photocopied documents and forms, go to an office to get an “exit visa” or some such. Here an official looking lady informs us that something is missing. Can’t quite understand what. Call Osman, who’s been standing by outside the terminal just in case, and let him talk to the woman. We meet Osman outside and jog to some nondescript office half a kilometer from the terminal. Then we wait in a line. Osman has a prolonged discussion with a person on the other side. Something is glued into our passports and then we run back to the terminal. The same woman now nods approvingly and stamps our passports. We then line up for passport control line. And wait. 45 minutes later it’s our turn. We hand over the passports and watch the bureaucrats on the other side have another long discussion while looking at our documents. Passports back in hand, we line up for a security check. Pass with flying colors only to find another line on the other side – another, identical security check. Followed by another line. Not sure what that one was meant for but I got pulled out of it and told that there was a problem with our checked luggage. I was sure it was the sword. Retrace my steps back all the way to the check-in counter and told to follow someone to the backside of the terminal where checked luggage is scanned. Turns out the airport security took some interest in the bag containing our climbing junk. The cams were of particular interest. I was hoping that he would not find our bag of chalk as that could really lead to some awkward questions. Satisfied with my answers, they let our bags through and I run back, slipping unnoticed through passport controls but of course have to clear security (all 3 of them) again. Shirley, who stayed at the gate has been texting me that we’re boarding. Make it back to the gate and jump on the bus. Finally exhale and send Osman an “all clear” text as we’re sitting on the plane.
Rest of the trip home went smoothly and included a looooong layover at JFK; long enough where we Ubered into Queens in search of some Malaysian food (man, I’d never ever want to move back to the NYC area). Well, once again thanks to Alaska, the domestic leg got us home about 4 hours behind schedule.
Go back to Sudan.