The morning stretches and yawns into the late afternoon heat. Then the rush:
“What do we do?”
Sometimes it is swimming at The Green Club-a last vestige of mixed gender semi-nudity frolicking in warm, greenish waters. Pulling off my damp dress under the eyes of the Sudanese staff is a little unnerving, but the chance for normality, to swim with my brothers, to feel my body is not entirely a sexual oddity, is worth this slight disrespect. If we stay long enough the setting sun may even create goose bumps on our flesh. We relish the idea of ‘cold’.
Children bathed first in sunscreen, goggles, floaties, insect repellent and kisses learn to swim from the overweight Man with the Whistle. Unsure of whether he works here or not, the pool experience is not complete without the harsh cries from the Man with the Whistle keeping everyone under control. Russian women in tiny bikini’s bathe in the oppressive heat, a few French families skyping home, seriously overweight young men pound the water with their fists in an attempt to surge through the unrelenting water.
The chlorine is so strong our hands and feet wrinkle within minutes. Straw hair and tight skinned faces emerge when we do. The gazelles with their glassy black eyes full of malice, watch sweetly from the shore.
After dinner at the Yemeni restaurant near the pool, Dominic points above our heads to reveal two roosters, heads bowed between their legs, in a deep slumber. Perched upon a large iron gate with supreme rooster balance they silhouette the half constructed concrete building in front of our own. A Caravaggio painting in modern Sudan.
“So that’s where they are!” We exclaim, after being awakened by these two alarm clocks every morning before rolling over in our sweaty sheets and falling back asleep. We think we are alone in our business district, which empties of it’s chaos around 11pm every night, but the longer we stay in the souq the more inhabitants emerge from around us. The men who sleep on roofs, the overcrowded pension rooms, the great construction sites with hidden families, roosters and even goats.
And us. Five hawaja, a sheesha and a struggling fern by the toilet.