Day nine waiting for my permit to travel to Darfur. This is usual. No need to panic just yet. Although a pal from Nairobi is in town and approaching day 21.
So to pass the time Al Siir and I went to one of his favourite lunch venues, the Albawad Tourism Restaurant which is famous for its grilled chicken. The blackened chicken comes on huge aluminium platters and served with small bowls of red chilli sauce and hunks of bread.
The most fascinating thing is never the main part of the meal. Chicken is chicken. (Although in this case the chicken was superb. The outside had been smeared in chilli and then grilled to a crisp, giving a truly satisfying crunch. Once doused in lime juice, the chicken became sweet and fiery and still lovely and juicy inside). But the accompaniment was pretty special too.
In Uganda, I have eaten grilled pork in the tiniest, most remote roadside shops – and found my kebab served with a green fan of melting avocado.
Similarly, my grilled chicked today came with a huge heap of rocket (or arugula if you must). Now it wasn’t long ago that this stuff could only be found at the pharmacy in Britain (or was that olive oil?). Anyway, now it is the salad leaf of choice everywhere from Pret a Manger to fancy dan restaurants. But in Khartoum, the peppery leaves are served on plastic tables in simple restaurants alongside plastic bottles of Pepsi.
Tomorrow it’s breakfast in Omdurman.