As the afternoon heat begins to die down, head away from the souq to climb one of the mini mountains which surround the town. The most easily accessible one is right behind the football stadium, and indeed, you can keep an eye on the match from afar as you climb. Pick a path through the mud huts on the lower slopes, or ask a local child to show you the way. Once you reach the summit, you can see the whole town spread out beneath you. It is a popular place for the few local tourists (there were two...a honeymoon couple), and many residents of Kadugli head up here to mix or write poetry or draw. A man in rags followed us up with a troop of stray dogs...he said "salaam", and sat down with his dogs at his feet.
The heart of every Sudanese town is its souq, and Kadugli is no exception. As you leave the main road, it seems quite dull and disappointing, with normal dukkans selling stuff you can buy anywhere and no sense of atmosphere at all, but don't be put off. keep going deeper, and it becomes livelier and more traditional. The stalls become more rustic in design, made out of wood with plastic sheeting or woven leaves as roofs. The goods also become more "exotic" (I don't like that word, but can't think of a better alternative), like spices, herbal medicines, animal skins, shoes made from old tyres, coffee making equipment, etc... The people are very friendly, and there is no pressure to buy anything, although at times the "khawaji" factor did get a bit overwhelming. tea ladies are everywhere, and when the sun becomes too hot (as it usually does), then you should stop at one for a kerkedeh, gingery coffee or tea, and provide entertainment for the local shopkeepers!
One thing I noticed very early on was the total lack of fruit juice in Kadugli. Now, after the excellent juices in Kassala, I've become something of an addict, so this was a bit of a disappointment for me...it certainly put me off the idea of relocating to Kadugli next year. Other cold drinks, including bottled water, are more expensive too, as they have to be brought in via the same road as you arrive. So it is a good job that there are tea ladies literally everywhere, looking like mini apothecaries with all their jars of spices. Tea comes either ahmar/sade (red or black), or shay laban (with fresh hot milk). Coffee usually contains girfa' (cinnamon) and zinjibil (ginger). Both are extremely sweet. Once you're sick of tea and coffee, try kerkedeh, a bright pink tea made from hibiscus leaves. Sometimes they also provide zalabiya (fried dough balls sprinkled with sugar). It is perfectly acceptable for foreign women to sit at these stalls, but local women in other parts of Sudan wouldn't be seen dead at a tea-lady (many are said to offer more than just tea in the evening!), but in Kadugli, things seemed more relaxed, due to the heavy African influence perhaps, and once or twice we saw women drinking tea in the street, heaven forbid!
From El-Obeid, you have a choice of two types of bus...a rickety old bus which is more like a converted cattle truck, or a hafla, which is a newer bus but only marginably less uncomfortable. The eight hour (+) journey costs around 20,000 on either bus. Don't drink too much before or during the journey, as the drivers tend not to be sympathetic when someone needs the toilet on the way! The road as far as Ad-Dilling isn't too bad, but after that it soon deteriorates, full of bumps and holes, all of which your driver will insist on hitting at full speed. You could break your journey at ad-Dilling...the town has nothing to recommend it really, but your bottom might appreciate the stop.
Kadugli, being in the middle of the Nuba Mountains conflicts, is now safe, but that doesn't stop the security forces taking an interest in any khawaja that happens to pass through. Make sure you have the correct travel documents, otherwise you will be sent back. The mountains round Kadugli look beautiful and perfect for trekking, although there are landmines in the area. It might be an idea to check with the Landmine Action office before setting out.