Junior Aseal Saed spends three weeks in Northern Sudan

Aseal Saed, Editorials Editor

Sand everywhere. Fast voices speaking in Arabic. Buzzing streets. Smells of spices. These were my senses entering the city of Khartoum, Sudan. Everything was so overwhelming and hard to process, as this was my first time in my home country, Sudan.

Right before break, my dad surprised my family with tickets to Sudan, saying that it was time we returned to visit and get closer to family. I was shocked and initially nervous, but it ended up being the best experience of my life.

My family and I stayed in an apartment of our own in a busy area in Khartoum surrounded by many shops and restaurants, perfect for a family of five with different interests.

Despite being so close to my parents wanted to make sure we saw the countless relatives expecting our arrival, many of whom had never met me.  

We spent two to three days bustling from house to house trying to fit in the seemingly hundreds of the family members of both of my parents.

We visited family that were so distantly related that it seemed like a trace of a relationship wasn’t there.

Visiting all my dad’s relatives was more important because although my mom visited often since we moved to the U.S., he had not returned in 26 years. Seeing my many relatives and getting close to them made me realize how detached we are back home and how amazing it feels to be connected with your people.

When going on these visits and being in public I mostly wore a loose scarf around my head and not tight clothes as a sign of respect, but it was not a big deal wearing pants or if my scarf fell.

After meeting and spending time with my relatives, my family spent at least a week just sight seeing. My uncle on my dad’s side and my uncle on my mom’s side both took us all over the city. My family and I took a boat down the Nile, and saw where the White and Blue Nile meet, we went to the National Museum; into the home of Abdullah al Khalifa, a ruler in Sudan. Although the sites were beautiful, the most memorable part of the trip was the food.

The food industry in Sudan is booming with restaurants everywhere, and always busy with customers. This is because Sudanese food prides itself in its richness and taste.

Another great aspect of Sudan are the Souqs or Markets which are abundant all over Khartoum. I went to many that were small quarters in rows, in each quarter there was a different vendor with different items they were selling.

Some Souqs sold a variety of items, from necklaces to  brooms, and others had specific purposes. For example, one Souq we went to was dedicated just to perfumes, so there were rows and rows of different perfume stores.

Even with all the beauty and fun, one common problem that hampered some of the fun in all of these places was the trash everywhere.

Sudan has a poor trash collecting system, rather citizens often collect their trash and burn it on the street. Yet there still was trash littered everywhere, even on the nicest streets.

Some believe that this issue is tied to the fact that Sudan is mostly cut off from American and Western influences, with little to no American business operating in Sudan. That is why many stores and companies there were copies of American businesses. For example, I saw one store called “Star-box”.

However, this disconnection is also strong in that some websites are banned in Sudan.

My Snapchat account did not work and I did not have access to my school email, which made me realize a difference between my two homes.

Despite the trash littered streets, I got to see all the sites and connected with my culture, and most importantly, connected with my family, many of whom I did not know even existed.

It was an eye-opening experience which shed light on a whole different lifestyle that I am not accustomed to.

I am looking forward to the next time I get to see my family and home country again.