So this is a big update that I’m cramming lots of travel into, but just have too much going on to break it down any more than this. 😉
My last update finished in Gadaref, Sudan, and now we’re on our last of two rest days in Gondar, Ethiopia. Obviously much has happened since, the most important (to me) being that I got sick. Badly. Twice. FUN!
Gadaref was a pretty neat little town, but while internet was extremely fast and good and 3G everywhere in town, as soon as we got back to the guesthouse it went to shit and went to the slowest EDGE network ever and thus I couldn’t post a blog there and posted it yesterday instead. The town itself was pretty neat, we went out a couple times for food and mostly had sheep or goat (the terms are unclear here), and we stocked up on supplies as we spent the almost last of our Sudanese pounds. We only had one more day in Sudan afterwards and would be crossing the border by 4pm. I actually found some salt and vinegar chips and cashew nuts, the nuts I’ve been enjoying today, but the chips didn’t last long at all, lol! There was also gelato/ ice cream/ whatever which was amazing, and only 5 pounds (like 80c USD).
The next day we hit the road really early. Birgit left about 45 seconds before me with the masses and I raced to catch up and somehow missed her in the crowd and ended up at the front with David W. I hoped Birgit saw me pass and just stuck with Dave out of town, with him pulling me most of the time since he’s clearly a much stronger rider and me jumping in to give him a break here and there when I could. Eventually Phil and our Local Sudanese Rider Sediq caught up, Phil dropped off right away due to the effort of catching up, and Sediq pushed our pace up beyond my limit and the two of them lost me just after a big army jeep with a huge gun started escorting us through the desert. Race was to lunch, about 80km in, and I still officially came in 2nd, but long after Dave and Sediq. Just barely before the other racers. This was perhaps a bad way to start my day.
I waited around for Birgit who had not seen me pass and was waiting for me near the back for a while (oops, felt terrible! :() and we headed off post-lunch together, in 47 degree weather to try and finish this massive 166km day. It was terrible! It just got hotter and hotter and my water got warmer and warmer… The coke stops were nice but not enough and though we got there, I was just exhausted.
The border crossing was easy, get stamped out of Sudan, walk across a bridge without any visible security, walk into another building, get stamped into Ethiopia, walk under a little rope, and continue to ride. 4k to camp. Birgit gets another flat 1k from camp, looks like her rim got so hot it melted the tire! WTF? And her other tire got a permanent heat bubble in it. Why are we riding in this? I crashed into bed hard at 7:20 or so, and this was the beginning of the end. I woke up at midnight feeling pukey, went to turn over to get up and out of my tent and was violently ill in my tent instead! Terrible! Took another hour to clean it up and it was just gross. Sorry guys! Anyways, I didn’t ride the next day, and ended up sleeping on the truck for the trip to camp, climbing out, sleeping on the ground for the rest of the day, climbing into my tent, and sleeping in the tent til morning. But still not riding again. Took the truck to Gondar where we had two rest days. The ride was slow going and the racers passed us many times, the truck was just really slow on the uphills. Sometimes stopping to restart in 1st gear! Crazy.
When we got to Gondar there was some sort of huge celebration and/or protest going on and it was just a shitshow. We had another 1.5+ hour detour 5km from the hotel and didn’t get here til 2pm or something. I got a room luckily and checked in immediately for a rest and some internet.
The next day was fun, we went to the local castle, church, baths, and for lunch! Then I came home and got more and more sick again. I think I actually got some local bacteria this time, the symptoms were a bit different, and the nurse gave me some different things (I think the first sickness was heat exhaustion dehydration related). The meds this morning seem to have helped a lot though, and I’ve eaten and feel good again. Tomorrow should be better.
I spent the day running errands around town and met a kid that helped me out quite a bit and I even got to see his house. Pics below. Had some junk food here and there and lots to drink! Hydration!!
The saddest news from my errands is that there’s no way currently to get a SIM card for my phone that does data. And calling me on Skype costs 53c a minute. So my communication life back home basically just ended. Wifi from now on, whenever I can find it… Until Kenya, perhaps?! Gah. Gonna miss my Facebook communications. 🙁 🙁
Stories from the Ethiopian ride days seem interesting! Lots of staring everywhere they go, lots of kids yelling you you you money money money (cute but sad?), and then in the last villages before Gondar, some stones being thrown, sticks being hurled, sticks being swung, asses being smacked or grabbed, all around unawesome stories. My experience in the city here has been very different, everyone’s been nice! But it’s just weird. I hope that things improve, or that it’s not as bad as some made it seem! Gonna be a rough month with crazy kids and no communication with home! I’m hoping wifi on my rest days is good.
People keep saying to just enjoy Africa and forget about communicating, but that’s pretty hard, I see Africa on the bike 8-12 hours a day and spend a lot of time with the local riders, I really enjoy my minutes here and there talking to home.
For now it’s 3 days to Axum, where hopefully I’ll be online again! I’ll be thinking of you all, here’s to hoping I remain healthy enough to ride my bike! The truck really sucks!
Also, the MAP has been updated!
Now for pictures!!!