A year ago, we were living in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, just south of Egypt. It’s off the beaten track for tourism, but actually has more pyramids than Egypt, albeit much smaller.
When the opportunity came up for us to move there from New Zealand in 2019, it was a chance to show our sons the world. We took them to an Ethiopian restaurant before we left and they didn’t eat a thing! But kids are resilient and ours said, ‘As long as we’re at the same school, we don’t mind where we go.’
As an archaeologist, I’d always wanted to show the boys the pyramids, so we planned a family holiday. At that point, the media had announced that COVID was in Italy, Spain and Iran. Because we were going to be off the grid thousands of kilometres away, we turned off our mobile data to save our phone battery for photos and told friends we’d chat in six days.
When we got back to Khartoum and turned on our phones, we had about 280 messages and countless missed calls. The airport was closed, our colleagues were panicking, our family was worried, and the entire world as we knew it had seemingly changed overnight.
When we opened the door to our house, we found a flood because a pipe had burst upstairs but, of course, finding a plumber during lockdown was a nightmare. After being in 47°C heat, all we wanted was a shower – and a moment to realise the gravity of it all.
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