Sudan in some random portraits

I was recently thinking about some of my good friends in Sudan. I spent 10 months in El Obeid teaching English and shooting photos. I made some amazing friends, some truly amazing people, who took care of me and became my family. It is, by far, one of the best places I have ever visited. I hope you enjoy these photographs and if you are ever able to visit this amazing place you must go. If you click on “Sudan” below it will take you to to some of the posts from the time I was there and you can click here to hear some great Sudanese music.



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There Never Was.

“We weep over the might have been, but there is no might have been. There never was.”


Reading Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy I found this quote. While placing it here, independent of its’ paragraph, page, chapter and book changes its’ context, as it stands alone I agree wholeheartedly.

I never quite find the push to do all the things I desire or dream over, but as I prepare to leave the US for Zambia with the Peace Corps much of my decision to go has grown out of this idea. There is no might have been, there never was and so I made the choice to go to a new country and community for the next two years.

I haven’t forgotten about Sudan.  I had a dream about El Obeid and my friends there. I plan to take the rest of my time in the states to post these photos and videos of my time there.

Desatured Sudan

Life is good lately and the internet is slow . . . hence my lack of posting. I have some random photographs from El Obeid which is growing hotter by the day. Hopefully within the next month the rainy season will begin. Last night A huge dust storm blew through Kordofan which means the rains are coming and this desert is transformed into green fields . . . I’m so excited for this.

Over the next two days I’ll be posting about my visits to some neighboring villages and work in general at the universty.

Outside Barra, Kordofan State there are several sand dunes, we went to visit.

Election day in Sudan

A young physics teacher works at a Kareema polling station on the outskirts of El Obeid, North Kordofan State, Sudan.

Elections in Sudan . . . there are so many different opinions. For many Sudanese there is a sense of pride in the elections, these are the first held in nearly 25 years. For many there is a huge frustration as the two largest opposition parties, SPLM and UMMA pulled out of many state elections and completely from the presidential race. I wish I could say more, but honestly these elections are more complicated than I can begin to explain or even understand myself.

So I just went out to shoot photos, I wish I could post them all, but I’ve sent the best of the images to Zuma Press so keep your fingers crossed that something sells!

A voter from the National Congress Party asked for her photo to be taken at the AL Shariga polling station, one of the higher class neighborhoods, of El Obeid, North Kordofan State, Sudan.

A man shows his hand where he has written his voter registration number and dipped his index finger in ink to prove he has voted in El Obeid, North Kordofan State, Sudan.

Women wait patiently for their turn to vote at the Al Shariga polling station in El Obeid, North Kordofan State, Sudan.

Gracias a la vida

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto . . . the words from on of my favorite singers, Mercedes Sosa. It’s not only a song about love for a man, but love for life, para todo que nos da la vida. It is a beautiful song my mother and my aunts have always played in our home and her voice and words have become the ones I always take with me. Some of these pictures reminded me of this song.

El video de Mercedes Sosa’s Gracias a la Vida:


“How do you find Sudan?” is the question I get most often here. Yesterday in Ryan’s 8am class at Al-Neelain University one of the questions was spot on, “What did you think or know about Sudan before arriving here, and what do you think about Sudan now?”

I wish I could say I was well-versed on Sudan. That I had a good understanding of the conflicts that have ravaged the country over the past decades and generated the image of Sudan as a dangerous and dangerous place, but unfortunately I didn’t. All I knew about was Darfur thanks to media coverage in the United States and a basic introduction to Sudan through a small chapter from Lonely Planet Africa.

So when I answered the student I was honest. I thought Khartoum would be unsafe, tensions would be high between Northerners and Southerners or between Muslims and Christians, and that the country overall wouldn’t be very safe place. What I found really shocked me. I can walk in the city at night, no fear that I will be robbed or attacked. I’ve never felt so safe in a city of millions like Khartoum. I am also constantly surprised by Sudanese hospitality, there really isn’t a comparison. I can’t count how many times my tea has been purchased, I’ve been given a ride by a stranger, or had someone walk me to the correct bus (as my arabic is non-existent at the moment).

I’m trying to add as many photos as possible with explanations, but the internet here makes it difficult to upload pics so I’ll put up as many as possible from my first week in Khartoum, Sudan.

The view from my flat in souq Arabe in downtown Khartoum.

Mornings and throughout the day we have chai, jebanah (coffee with ginger and mint and spices) and smoking sheesha from time to time. Bottom photo is of Octagon one of the few places that allow women to smoke hookahs . . . It isn’t allowed at places if they’re owned by Sudanese usually, just those establishments run by Egyptians or Ethiopians.

Breakfast at Mugeeb’s house, an SVP worker. Consisting of Tamiya (falafel), salad, ful (beans), bread, kaseik (a fish dish made with tomato, puree fish, and peanut butter with onions and oil), liver, and an okra dish (center) that I couldn’t even guess at the name.

A night spent after donuts (usually a breakfast food with the tea ladies) Heidi’s friend Mohammad took us to enjoy donuts in the evening.

A rickshaw ride to the Sufi dancers Friday evening worship . . .

People watch and participate with the Sufis. I can’t add as many photos as I’d like, but I’ll put in as much as possible. Women aren’t allowed to make up the circle or be in the center of it, so . . . . all my photos are from behind a couple rows of men.

I’m hoping to post more detailed posts later. Last night (Friday January 29th) we were invited to visit a Sufi compound on the outskirts of a city. I can’t wait to share more, as this will be my last week in Khartoum before heading to El Obeid to begin teaching. It took about twelve days to register myself in the country, get my residence permit, be tested for HIV (Sudanese gov’t requires you to be free of it before issuing a residence visa), and then a travel permit to El Obeid.

Happy Fourth of July

So fellow News21 reporter Evan Wyloge and I headed out to interview some new U.S. citizens and swing by the truly American tradition of protest in the form of a tea party at the Arizona State Capitol. Here are some audio and photographs from today:

It’s those little things that really tell you about people. This girl was all red, white, and blue as she giggled with family and friends as she was getting ready to leave Saturday morning. She is from Guadalajara but has spent the majority of her life in the United States.

Fourth of July heels


One family from Sudan celebrated two fathers receiving their citizenship on July 4th, 2009. Marco Bako, below, was one of those two dads and the little boy was playing while waiting for his father, a friend of Bako’s also from Sudan, outside.



Tolemi was interesting, she was becoming American after spending 26 years in the country.

And lastly there was Maria Torres, wearing her Virgen de Guadalupe bracelet.


And it would never be a true celebration of our country without a protest right?

Below are pics from Phoenix’s tea party . . . This one focused obviously on the bail out and government taxation but went on to stress the fears of socialized medicine, taxes on methane (to explain the fart photo) and all in all makes for some interesting and patriotic photos.





And with great pride the little girl proclaimed, “that sign is mine. I made it.”



What a great way to celebrate the independence of my country.