Monday, June 21, 2010

nuba mountain portraits

heidimarie erickson, lagawa, nuba mountains, 1927

ryan kost, lagawa, nuba mountains, 2010

Sunday, June 20, 2010

i do - in sudan

i just got back from a bus-ride-filled, 10-day trip to kordofan, the region that lies at the heart of this massive country. i visited four different towns/ villages and took about 1,000 photos. it's going to take me a while to work through them all, but i'm hopeful i'll have a few good shots to post here soon. until then, here are a couple images to get me started:



in obeid, the capital of north kordofan, deanna brought us along to a wedding celebration. the women -- who celebrate separately from the men -- pass the time cooking, eating, chatting, singing and performing traditional sudanese dance.

the dance itself, pictured above, is hard to describe. basically, though, you throw your head and shoulders back and move your upperbody in this slow, circular rhythym. the way i describe it, the dance doesn't sound very sensual, but if it's anything, it's that. in fact, in a place like sudan, where sexuality and sensuality is sort of kept out of the public sphere, it's especially wild to see.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

on top

more photos from karima:

one of two pyramids sites a few hundred meters away from the mountain.

looking down on the pyramids as the sun rises.

sort of a random picture, but these birds were amazing as they road the drafts

karima hugs a bend in the nile. it's a little dark, but on right-most side are the date palms.

Monday, June 7, 2010

overexposed in karima

jebel barkal, a holy mountain right outside karima.

i only spent a few days in karima. i wish it had been a few weeks.

karima is a small town about six hours north of khartoum by air-conditioned coach. it sits at a bend in the nile, whose waters are drawn to the roots of thousands of date palms by shallow canals and noisy pumps.

in the few days i was there, i did backstrokes in the nile, climbed a plateau that overlooks a set of pyramids while the sun rose, read poetry aloud while drinking pimms and fell asleep under a sky so full of stars there wasn't room for any more.

walking the dusty streets of karima.


a rickshaw ride in the middle of the northern desert.

at the base of the mountain.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

vanilla ice cream

today, opposite the ethiopian souk, in the big dusty lot cordoned off by iron bars where people sit drinking chai and jebana and karakaday and vitamin d, there was a man selling ice cream. an ice cream man.

his cart was made of wood, which was painted bright, though it wasn't very bright anymore because in sudan, the sun is jealous of things that might try to out-bright it and goes about fading them while making its own over-the-top brightness known day in and day out.

the man had one type of ice cream. i think it was vanilla. that's only a guess. but it's an educated guess because vanilla is the sort of inoffensive ice cream staple that an ice cream man selling only one flavor would likely have on offer. and, also, from what i could see under the sheer blue piece of plastic that was supposed to protect the ice cream from the jealous sun and not-so-good-tasting dirt, the ice cream was off-white. the color of vanilla ice cream.

i didn't have any ice cream, but if i had, it would have come in a colored ice cream cone -- you know, the sort that taste and look vaguely of styrofoam and come in pale blue and green and also pink and beige? i know this to be true because i saw these very cones all jumbled together in the cart's ice-cream-cone alcove.

this ice cream cart didn't have a speaker playing some electronic melody, like the sort you get on the streets of america. this was a low-tech operation. but the ice cream man did have a wooden flute, which he played well. so well, that i had to fight from being pulled into a zombie-like trance, which, we can safely assume, would have lifted only after i'd asked the man for a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a pale-green cone.

i imagine the cone would have been pale green because the ice cream man seemed like the sort of ice cream man that makes it a point to give his customers a choice of the color cone they'd like if not the flavor of ice cream they'd like, and i would have chosen green because that's the color of my eyes, and somehow it would have seemed appropriate.

had all that happened, though, the ice cream probably would have melted before i was i done licking it into nothing, and little, creamy, vanilla drips would have slipped from the tip of the cone onto my shirt or, if i were particularly lucky, the ground. that's what always happens when the sun tries to eat your ice cream before you do.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the day the desert swallowed us whole

i've been trying, for a few days now, to come up with a way to describe what a sudanese sand storm looks like from the seventh floor as it slowly overtakes the capital city.

i'm still not sure i can do it justice, but here goes: from the seventh floor of a friend's apartment complex, the sky looked like it was split in two. there was the upper-most part of the sky, a steely gray-blue and then the lower half, a murky light-brown. it didn't register at first what was happening until the brown began to grow, taking the sky completely. it was as though the desert had decided to open up and swallow khartoum whole.

when the storm finally made its way to us, the air, which had been still just minutes before, was suddenly manic with movement and dust. this damp, earthy smell -- the same smell as comes from the water left over after washing clothes here -- surrounded us. grains of sand found their way into our mouths and between our teeth and stung our eyes. past maybe five feet, nothing could be seen. not lights, not other buildings, nothing.

it stayed this way for a good fifteen minutes, everything a copper haze. and then, just as suddenly as it came, the storm left, leaving behind a thin layer of settled dust, a cool wind and a short -- but so, so sweet -- desert rain.