As I started to learn more about this man, I discovered a stash of photographs and postcards depicting his life in Khartoum in the 1930s. With this window into the past, an idea began to form in my head, an idea which, as well as matching up the past with the present, would also see me receive a wedding proposal from an old woman, and a brief period of detention at the hands of the Sudanese authorities.
The Danakil depression in Northern Ethiopia is one of the most geographically unique places in the world. Remote and truly hostile, the Danakil can lay claim to being one of the hottest and driest places on the planet, with daytime temperatures surpassing 50°C and less than an inch of rain falling in the region each year; it is also one of the lowest parts of Africa, and one of the most tectonically active, with steaming acid lakes, rivers of lava, and clouds of volcanic gases creating an almost extra-terrestrial environment. It is little wonder then, that the Danakil and its features have inspired such enigmatic nicknames as ‘The cruellest place on earth’ or ‘Gateway to Hell’.