Slow day today. The weather was relatively cool (high of 79, I believe), and we spent the day vegging out, doing some shopping and swimming at the International Club (man, had I forgot how much fun swimming is). I'm a little worried that the rest of the trip is going to consist solely of days like this. I'm sure that lazing around doing nothing sounds fun to some people, but it drives me bonkers. As many of my friends can attest. I have the Internet (oh, and my family) to keep me company, which keeps me going. I have also managed to spend a little time working on my juggling and guitar skills, which I had sadly neglected. We're going to travel around and visit some museums tomorrow, hopefully. Stores have been closed for the past couple days for Eid ul-Adha, so we'll see how that works out.
In regards to previously mentioned shopping expedition. We were mostly interested in produce, and so visited (of course) the central bazaar, or "Soukh ul-Markhazi" ("Central Soukh"), which is where you find these kinds of things (if you want them cheap, that is). Mostly uneventful (other than my mom miscommunicating with a stall-keeper and buying an entire box of mangoes...). Except for this one crazy guy (no -- I mean that literally) who kept following us around, yelling at us to "Go! Go!", and that "If someone comes into your country, you will take a gun!" and muttering something about the "CIA" (maybe?). I really can't do justice to how discombobulated and weird his conversation was, or the fact that he spent a good 10 minutes trailing us, like some demented groupie. I wanted to shoo him off, but I got the impression he wasn't the kind of person with whom that would have been effective. Fortunately, most of the shop-keepers seemed to view him as a weird nuisance more than anything, and so he didn't reflect poorly on us (whew!).
There's apparently an interesting loophole in the Sudanese tax system. That being, if your house is currently under construction, you don't have to pay taxes on it. At first blush, that seems relatively reasonable, I guess. The end result, though, is buildings like those at right, in a permanent state of not-quite completion (this particular building is a collection of stores, closed for (as mentioned earlier) Eid). The most common method of indicating that a building isn't finished yet is through the half-sheathed support columns that poke up like strange antennas (or perhaps defense systems against the coming alien landing). This is more common than I would imagine you think; I first really noticed these on a drive out of town a few days ago, where a good three-quarters of the buildings looked like this. They really do look like the construction crew showed up one day, forgot which building they happened to be working on, and said "Hell with it! We're starting a new one right over here!". The building we're living in, fortunately, does not have this feature (which I suppose probably jacks up the rent).
The building I'm in right now has a fairly odd architectural layout, in that it appears to be taller than it is wide (and it's only two stories high). It's got a decently large footprint, but the ceilings are all around 15 feet tall. Apparently this has to do with keeping the temperature down, which is I suppose one of those logical yet unsatisfying answers that you sometimes have to deal with (wouldn't it be cooler if this were a former weapons-research lab, and the living room was this huge 'cause it had to hold the enormous prototype sand submarine?).
Alright, I'm going to bed. More weird and interesting (?) anecdotes in tomorrow's post.
PS No photo gallery, still. Sorry. It's there, I just haven't uploaded any pictures.
PPS Still no bags! Good God! A BA plane arrives tomorrow, apparently, so we may be lucky. The lousy part is that we know where the bags are (at Heathrow airport). All we need is for somebody to look at the damn routing sticker and stick it on an airplane. But we've gone through 3 or 4 of those so far, and no luck. At this point we may end up just picking up the bags on our way back.