A Carton Full of Khartoum


I couldn’t resist a cheap title for today’s blog, which resulted from clearing clutter in the attic and finding a box of “souvenirs” from our family’s Sudan Days.   Memories came flooding back, of the excitement and the split second decision to go.  We had no concept regarding the decision to leave home and take a lesson in The Real World.  Nothing is quite like moving family, dog and preconceived notions out of the good ole USA and landing in the middle of a very foreign country. 

As I write this, I am thinking once again, of those Ancestors, all those many-times-grandparents who arrived in the 1600s and 1700s.  How strange was this country to them?   The long-time owners of the country, tagged with a name that had nothing to do with their heritage were of other cultures, other languages; they were a people who took pity on our sick and weary passage survivors and taught them how to survive, even thrive the late ice age storms, the hurricanes; how and when to plant our own food and where to go for the best hunting on the Eastern Seaboard.  And the people who settled the Gulf States: learning to live with deadly snakes, alligators, and bugs the size of helicopters. 

If nothing else we do come from brave and hearty stock and I’m wondering if it is just another genetic blip, started by the infamous Mother in Africa and her tribe that settled the world. 

For years Larry, my husband and I had dreamed of moving to France.  Neither of us spoke French which is important in that country, but we felt we would get along swimmingly since we really liked French cheese and champagne.  We hadn’t thought of family when that dream began.  We believed we would not have children.

 The day came when I was at home with my five year old daughter and my two year old son playing with the phone book on the floor which is a great pastime for keeping kids out of your hair, and the phone rang and I answered.  Their father, Larry was bursting with excitement,

 “Mel!  Guess What!  Remember how we always wanted to move to France?”

My heart jumped and I salivated as images of Chevre Cheese, The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower and the Loire Valley flooded my mind.  This was not really happening!

“Well, I just got a job offer with Chevron and they want to know how you feel about it!

“Oh, okay, yes, it sounds fabulous” 

“It isn’t going to be France, but we can always travel there for holidays, we will get three holidays every year.  But the job is in The Sudan,” he paused for a moment waiting for a response.  

 I wondered where the Hell is The Sudan as he plunged on, “Go get the globe, The Sudan is just South of Egypt, the capital city is Khartoum, at the concourse of the Blue Nile and the White Nile.” 

I ran into the living room marveling over there being two Niles, and brought our globe back.  I’d spotted The Sudan, just South of Egypt, and Khartoum was at the intersection of the Blue and the White Niles. 

It was a long way from Sonoma County, in the Wine Country of California, traveling East across our country then north-east, crossing Baffin Bay, probably landing in England.  Maybe a change of plane and then crossing Europe to somewhere around Italy then heading South to Africa nearly to the Equator!  This was not going to be a one plane flight.

I picked up the phone, glanced at the kids and said “Okay!”

 There was silence at the other end.


 “Well, did you find Khartoum?”

“Yes I see it. “

“Well, what do you think?”

“Sounds good to me, Let’s go!”

That pretty much sealed the next part of our lives, for he and I passed muster by Chevron.  It is just as well that neither of us knew how the relationships between Chevron, Larry and our family would be strained.  At the moment he and I were delighted he even had a job, more so that we were embarking on an adventure.  

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One thought on “A Carton Full of Khartoum

  1. Oh – I love the ” “Mel! Guess What! Remember how we always wanted to move to France?” ” question – that was priceless. Very much enjoyed reading my first post here. Will keep reading – I want to know more.

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