The best chicken restaurant in Dongola, Sudan, was empty, as if people rose from their seats and walked out.

Editor’s note: This travel piece was written weeks before two military men in Sudan started battling for power, before hundreds were killed and embassies were evacuated. The Post and Courier feels that amid headlines of war and destruction that it’s important to see inside the country, learn about its people and cultures, and explore what is at stake. 

The best chicken restaurant in Dongola, Sudan, was empty, as if people rose from their seats and walked out. Whole chickens turned on a rotisserie above an open flame, skins becoming crispy, sealing in the flavor of oil, salt and lemon. But there was no one behind the counter to take our order or serve us one of the delicious chickens, cut up over a bed of seasoned rice.

There was only the white tile of the floor, glowing clean under the fluorescent lights of this open-air restaurant.

One man walked up to us and said he was hungry. We promised that when we finished eating, we would give him what was left, as is the custom of that part of the world. He disappeared into the night, and we were alone again. Read the rest of the article >

Originally published in The Post & Courier
by Autumn Phillips

In the parking lot, there was a cart full of balls of falafel, divided into plastic bags tied with slip knots for quick purchase, but no one there to sell them.

It was Friday. The sun set long ago, and it was as dark as the traffic on the busy road would allow. And as it did five times a day — at dawn, at noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and now at nightfall — the sound of a man’s voice came from a loudspeaker above the mosque next door reciting the call to prayer. When he was done, the notes still hanging in the warm night air, men poured out of the gates, still sliding feet into shoes, and flooded into the restaurant, filling every empty table. The room was, for a moment, a stark painting of white prayer robes, white tile and red plastic tables. But the evening quickly set into motion as if on queue.

Baskets of flat bread were delivered and huge trays of chicken and rice. Laughter filled the room as men tore the bread and pulled the chicken apart and scooped the chicken, rice and bread into one bite.