This was the only moment when my decision to travel the length of Africa overland, Cairo to Cape Town, using only public transport, seemed like a dumb idea. Six and a half months, 10,000-plus kilometers, and precisely 317 pieces of public transport—every wired-together taxi, listless ferry and curmudgeonly camel given its own stolen-pen stroke on a blank page of my out-of-date Lonely Planet.
‘It’ happened early on. Timeline Sudan: At a refugee camp that reeked equally of despair and diarrhoea, a satellite-of-a-nothing border town called Kosti. It was a new border, after one country was acrimoniously, asexually split into the relative haves of Sudan and the have-nothings of (new) South Sudan.
Many of the South Sudanese ‘refugees’ were actually born in the north and were being spat out into an infrastructure-less south that they’d never been to before. They were famished, frantic, waiting to be forced onto a boat downriver, sometime in the indeterminate future.
My crime? Officially, pornography (photographing the fully clothed people I was interviewing) and trespass, the police claimed. Unofficially, I had stuck my sunburned nose too firmly into other people’s beeswax.