Thursday, January 21, 2010

Khartoum Bread

Here I am posing at the rickshaw before going for a ride to the bakery

Passing the local bakery almost daily when in the landcruiser with my husband, I was keen to go inside and if possible, take some photos. We stop there often but my husband always runs in and emerges with the hottest, most delicious pitas on the planet. When I mentioned wanting to see the bakery again, he said why not take a rickshaw - a popular mode of transport around the streets.

As I picked up my purse and the door keys, I casually mentioned to hubby that I hoped the rickshaw driver returned with me. He looked up from his computer and with something like panic in his eyes, said, "Ask Achmed to go with you in the rickshaw." (LOL!)

I went downstairs, called Achmed and explained what I wanted to do. At first he said: "My friend, Mohamed, he have fresh khobuz (bread)" Mohamed runs a little spaza shop across the road from the flat. I said I always support Mohamed but I wanted to go to the bakery to take photos.

Once we were out in the street, standing in front of Mohamed's shop, Achmed hailed the next rickshaw that came along. (there is one every minute or so) When he relayed my request, the driver beckoned for me to get in. Pointing to my camera, I told Achmed I'd like to take photos first, would the driver mind? Achmed said: "No problem" and once I'd shown him how to use my camera, he took the above photo. I boarded the rickshaw and off we went up the street. (Somehow I forgot to take a photo of Achmed. I'll do so soon; I'm sure he'll be helping me again in the near future.)
The rickshaw, a 3-wheeled motorcycle, which resembles the infamous tuk-tuk in Thailand, is a common mode of transportation in Khartoum. Popular with the locals and those desperate enough, the fare on the rakshaw is pricier than the local bus but cheaper than a taxi. to explain

Bear in mind that rickshaw drivers are fearless, often driving against traffic and cutting in front of other vehicles when trying to cross a junction. If you are a foreigner, expect to be charged higher and don't be surprised the engine breaks down in mid-journey. I was blessed; this trip was short and in the residential area, so traffic was minimal.

The bakery manager in front of his display of delicious hot pitas

My taxi driver understood English, although he indicated he could only speak it "small-small". Once we arrived at the bakery, he walked in ahead of me and began to rally the staff around for photos.

The men who work the dough

The baker was very keen for me to photograph the pitas in the oven and beckoned me closer

The oven is a lot larger and deeper than I imagined

The baker removes the piping hot pitas and places them on the tray in the foreground

I was thrilled to encounter the delivery man and donkey and asked if I could take a photo

Driving back to the flat with a bag of hot fresh pitas (SDG1/ US$.40c for 5), we met the man with the delivery donkey. Most of his wares had been delivered already. This is another popular mode of transport. A donkey and cart can convey almost anything: humans, fruit and vegetables, milk, pita breads, building materials and bags of grain. I was delighted to see the delivery cart as I'd often seen this same animal waiting outside the bakery with a full load. As we stopped, I asked Achmed, who was waiting outside Mohamed's shop, to ask the cart driver if I could take a photo. He did, the driver agreed and within minutes I had about five passers-by watching and commenting on what I was doing.

The delicious pita breads are a daily purchase in our house

Once I'd paid the rickshaw driver, I bought a Pepsi for my husband from Mohamed's shop. I didn't want him to feel I was neglecting him! I thanked Achmed for his help and started off across the road. As I reached out to open the street gate, I noticed two beautiful ladies waiting on the corner a few yards from me. I walked back, and sticking out my hand in greeting, I asked if they spoke English. The one lady did, albeit very basically, which is tons better than my Arabic (I'm studying on the computer every evening and also learn a word-a-day on Misalyn's delightful blog which you can read here) She said her was Norma and her friend's name was Waan. They're Egyptian and live in the green building two doors from our flat building. Before they jumped into their rickshaw, she said:

"You come visit"

I will, Norma, I sure will...


  1. What a great view into your corner of the world. And so neat that everyone was excited about you taking photos! Do they have any idea how far reaching their photos will travel?!

  2. Thank you for taking me with you on your 'bread journey'. It was a wonderful adventure and the bread looked yummy!
    Sunny :)

  3. Jo, you're an EXCELLENT WRITER!!! It feels like I was rickshawing with you through the streets. As jy eendag 'n afdeling maak vir beste/interessantste stukkies, moet jy hierdie 'post' bysit. Mooi dag, my liefste vriendin!

  4. Thanks for 'taking me there'...what a delightful 'bread journey' and thank you for mentioning my blog...thank you so much.

    We have pita breads here yummy.

    Have a nice day Jo.

  5. What a wonderful post, Jo ! I loved reading about the little bakery, meeting the people & riding along in the rickshaw with you .... now I'm coming over to sample some of that delicious bread. Yum :)

  6. I love this post. It really helps me understand what it is like where you are. So many places in Africa we only see on the crisis news and the name Khartoum really sounds so exotic and mystical. It is wonderful to see the people too and their modes of transport and delivery. Perhaps when you visit the ladies we can see pics of them too :-) The pita bread looks absolutely delicious. Much better than the flat kind we usually buy here. I'm planning to make Turkish bread soon. It looks a little like those pitas but longer and with sesame seeds.

  7. Thanks VioletSky;) it's actually wonderful to have the "subjects" agreeing so beautifully. I thought EXACTLY the same thing yesterday: I wonder what they would say if I told them I "blog" about life here in Africa. Probably: OK OK!

    Hi Sunny, it's a pleasure. The bread is TERRIFIC - too much in fact.

    Thanks Ida, I knew you'd enjoy the ride!

    Hi Misalyn;) thank YOU for the word a day on your blog. Each one helps when you know as little Arabic as I do!

    You're welcome anytime, Lynda. I'll have a cuppa ready but first we'll take a ride to the bakery in a rickshaw and buy fresh pitas!

    Hi Joyful;) it's lovely to have you visit my blog and I LOVE your blog. So many people always tell me that they only hear adverse news about Africa. It's absolutely peaceful here in Khartoum. There is war down south but peace reigns up here. Ooh, I've seen a recipe for Turkish breads. Hope to see your finished product!

  8. Wha t an experience through your eyes and you miss nothing. Please carry on as we just love your daily bulletins we cant match themLove to you both

  9. Those warm pitas look delish, especially on this cold rainy day. How fun to ride in the rickshaw and meet some neighbors. You are becoming a local.

  10. I can smell that bread from here! Love you for taking us on the ride!

  11. What an amazing and delicious adventure! I would want fresh baked bread every day too. I've ridden in rickshaws like that in Indonesia. My husband and I could barely squeeze in (between my hips and his shoulders). Our driver huffed and puffed up the hills. The Indonesian people are much smaller than we are and they would have entire families in the cart!

    And, to answer your question, Janie and I live 40 miles apart from each other, not far really, and have known each other for years. She is the one who said to me, "You should start a blog." I'm so glad she did.

  12. Hi Jo, Thanks for taking us with you on your rickshaw ride to get that delicious bread. I always want to know more about other countries and areas--so I truly enjoyed this post.

    Looks like you are making some friends there too...


  13. Going anywhere in a strange country would be an adventure, and this was a fun description of getting out on your own. Love the photos of the bakery. The pitas look delicious.

  14. Hello Yvonne! I will. You do match. You are one of my contacts with my beloved home town in South Africa. You also have a vegetable garden which surpasses many I've seem around and you've blessed me with some delicious greens. Love from us both. xxx

    Hi Esther, glad you enjoyed the ride with me. The pitas DO smell and taste divine.

    Hi Loran, what an exciting life you've lived. I chuckled at the driver huffing and puffing up the hills. How wonderful that you and Janie are friends and she encouraged you to start a blog. Now we all see what life is like your side of the world. (((Hugs))) Jo

    Hi Gaelyn;) Yes, it was very exciting meeting those two ladies. (My husband asked me when I told him I'd approached them, do you talk to EVERYBODY - ha - of course) I am beginning to feel part of life here in Khartoum again.

    Hi Betsy;) it's a pleasure. I'm glad you are part of my world! Bless you my friend. (((Jo)))

    Hi Janie:) it is the first of many, I know. I have a few more planned...


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo