Friday, 9 November 2012

Of Difficulties, Heat Stroke and Immense Kindness...

Written on 06/07/2007

Salem Alaykom,

This e-mail is long overdue, but it's difficult to write with a cluttered mind. I won't mince words - the stress of the last couple of months has been enormous.

Rahaal and Chami suffered injuries while Nali and Chami fell victim to Babeseosis (tick bite fever). Our slow progress means our visas expire after 3 months. South African bank refusing to transfer money to Sudan after our cash has run out. Not knowing whether we have any money left at all...

Chami got colic on our second day of the 350km desert crossing. The colic lasted 9 days with him refusing to eat and drinking very little, it was almost as if he were trying to commit suicide. Obviously he was not ridable and so little Rahaal had to step into the breach. This he did strongly for 570km before he sprained his left back fetlock. We rested 45 days and in this time both Nali and Chami got Babeseosis.

Chami looking a lot like the skeleton..
The vet, a specialist on ticks, refused to give me the brand name for the drug (Foray & Euflavine not available) used in treatment as he said there was no Babeseosis in the area and I should bring my horses into town for blood tests. I was loathe to use Berynil as it is a painful injection and carry it to treat Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness).

My good friend, Dr Helen Tiffin, told me not to fiddle about and inject. I split the Berynil in 4 and injected the neck and hindquarters. Nali ended up with such a painful neck that he couldn't lie down and had to be fed at head height. Chami kept running away from me for fear of another injection. My heart practically broke but they both recovered and have slowly forgiven me, I think...

200km on disaster struck again with us experiencing a heat wave in the desert giving Rahaal and Chami what I can only describe as heat stroke. Chami's fragile state brought on his laminitis again and Rahaal's tired body succumbed to a mild laminitis. We put the boys on a truck and drove them the 60km into Khartoum to rest.
We all took a hammering from the heat wave...
An old friend of Christine's, Brett and his wife Toni have kindly put us up. We have received good support from kind friends of theirs, Khalid and Walid. Chami is recovering well but Rahaal has a massive abscess in his right front hoof. It has just started to erupt and things in that department are looking up. Looking at his strong well shaped hoofs I would never in a million years have predicted this.
Billy, Brett and Toni...
Christine has left for Kenya in order to get a new visa. You get a monthly tourist visa at a US$100 and may only have three before you must leave the country. The good news is that you can leave obtain a visa and return immediately. So she has gone off to spend time with her family which is also long overdue. I miss her terribly!...and so do the horses.
Family time in Kenya!
What can I say about the South African bank refusing to transfer money to Sudan because of sanctions. This whole journey we have experienced institutions, for want of a better word, who feel that Africa's problems or any problem must be solved by aggressive means instead of opening dialogue.

MTN (SA mobile company) is opening here in a big way which will improve peoples' lives, not damage them. South Africans should understand more than Westerners the "collateral damage" brought about by sanctions. So much for our level of sophistication but then I forget, they haven't been here have they...
MTN has come to Sudan.
We are particularly grateful to the Sudan Railway employees who have taken great care of us as we have followed the tracks all the way from Wadi Halfa. All the Sudanese have welcomed us into their homes and been most gracious hosts.
Railway engineers at Zei Dab.

Mustafa and Adries cooking dinner for us.

Shunting trains..

Straightening train tracks..

We say goodbye to the staff at Zei Dab..
Chami was exhausted and needed to rest. We were at an abandoned station in the middle of our 350km desert crossing and yes there was water in the big concrete water tank and yes the horses had food - only because Chami hadn't eaten for a couple of days. But Christine and I had no food - just a piece of bread for breakfast that morning.

I had already pilfered our emergency rations and if we stayed and left the next morning our first meal on an already depleted diet would be at best 3pm. Very dangerous risk to take! I had not made up my mind but Christine had and was prepared to stay. Suddenly the horses warned us of an approaching train.

The train driver stops and asks us in for tea. Apples and oranges appear, an absolute luxuary in Northern Sudan let alone in the middle of the desert. After swopping phone numbers and dinner invitations in the next town which seems an eternity away we alight from the train and are loaded with cheese, bread,apples and oranges.
Billy and the train driver who stopped to feed us...
What can I say Big Guy - you just keep coming through...

God bless you all.

William and Christine

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