One of the first things to show you are approaching Merowe is the line of green on the horizon after travelling through the desert and scrub. The whole area has date plantations. I hadn't realised until visiting one that other crops are grown between the palms. These may be bersem [a sort of clover for fodder], chick peas, beans, molochiya and the like. Canals provide water to the small plots.
The locals depend on this for their food, and sell some of the dates after the harvest.
The new Merowe Dam will begin operation soon. Already part of the dam is ready to operate, and tests will be carried out before completing the work in a few years time.
It is a massive construction which will help in producing electricity for the whole of Sudan. Already the station has been set up and pylons stalk the country. People are enjoying the benefits in this land where temperatures are unbelievably high in summer, and low in winter.
At present a pontoon bridge carries traffic across the river near the site; and a residential complex is set up and working to house employees and visitors.
December 2008, two turbines are in operation and the force of the water is quite impressive.
Now tours are being made by hundreds of people coming from Khartoum to see the Sudan's latest achievement.
We were staying at Merawi East, which had suffered a lot of damage during the 1988 floods.
As we drove through I noticed a fortress- like building. There was a turret [or maybe a pigeon house?] and a strong stone wall around the mud brick building.
I asked locals living beside the building. They told me it , the kufra as they call it, had been built long ago by their ancestors - probably in the Turkish era, for Sheikh el balad [the mayor, or head man].
An old lady offered to take me into the building although she herself had never been before. She said the locals feared ghosts [ba'ati].
The wall is strongly built of stone ,but the rest of the building is mainly of mud brick. Most of the roofing has gone and doors have been removed. We moved from room to room, now used as dumping grounds for rubbish. The turret structure has triangular openings to let in light.
I was told that tourists do sometimes come to look at it.