This was without doubt the biggest mental challenge I have faced on a bike. Although I stopped through the towns of Akasha, Kosha, Abri and Faraq the heat was unbearable. Then as soon as the sun sets the sand freezes over. Every time I cycled to the top of a hill I expected to see a flat level but instead I only saw the next hill ! This made cycling a real challenge as the landscape never changed. My bike was also sinking into the sand as soon as I slowed down and I think I walked my bike at least 80kms. My gears and brake cables were stiffening up from the sand. Although the landscape is unbelievable it never changes. In my head I think I am going around in circles. What looks like the tracks for a road usually ends up as previous tracks someone took when they were lost. A nice precedent.
Monday 28th January I eventually reached the town Dongola where I took a day off. It's got some nice cafes and good food and provided just the break I needed. I camped out in the zoo which has only 1 animal left… a giant turtle.
Although Khartoum is a massive area of mostly mudhuts, it's reason for being a capitol is because the Blue and White Nile rivers meet there. Beyond that, it is a flat area with no real strategy in it's location. The most disgusting part of the city is the decadence of foreign aid workers. Not just range rovers, but BMW & Mercedes are the chariot of the charities. The very foreigners who relocated here to help and change the future are consuming more money by their transport alone then ten locals would earn in a year. Having spoken with quite a few aid workers I wonder how they can justify their expenses, their accommodation, their lifestyle: which is 1st world in a 3rd world city.
Khartoum reminds me of one big African village. Ah, so obvious. This may sound obvious, but when it's your inspiration and motivation in the thick of a desert your imagination can conjur up a metropolis to move you.
NAME: Justin Time
ADDRESS: APT.#978 Yellow Brick Rd. Toronto
PASSPORT NUMBER: 123456987
SEX: Y, Please
(ok, last ones a lie)
I think this was illegal you know false information but I could always play the silly Irish card.
I talked like an American but drew attention to maple leaf affinity. The Quebecian guy was a sharp as a beachball and after asking nicely he agreed to give us a can of Stella. A mini-can of Stella. Between the 3 of us. To be honest that was enough to give my beer starved head a decent high. Our new French type friend also told us how the embassies driver's son got 40 lashes of the whip a few months before for alcohol consumption !After our beer divided our trio went out to an expensive Lebanese restaurant. The food was amazing, with exotic beautiful women walking around scantily clad- this is the diplomatic part of Khartuom, which you don't see often. So we ate like kings. When it came to paying the bill we realised we had no cash, at all. Actually we realised this midway through the cake. The restaurant had no credit card machine. We had no options. Just then my friend Rod pulled the most ridiculous manoeuvre I have ever seen.
He has an abundance of traveler cheques he can't cash in any bank in Egypt or Sudan. This restaurant with no proof of id, no passport accepted travelers cheques to pay for they $115 meal (a lot of money in Sudan). They won't be able to redeem the travelers cheque ! It would have been more responsible to write them an IOU.
Sunday 3rd February 2008 I have a few more days in the deserts of Sudan then I plan to arrive in Ethiopia on Thursday, I should arrive in the town of Gondar on Monday 11th February where I will be visiting my charity (APA) projects. Although I have been a little sidetracked with cycling and friendly locals these past few weeks I welcome the next step of my journey which involves my charity and the people I have been raising support and funding for. With all the small daily complications of riding a bicycle a few kilometers it's easy to forget what should be motivating you to the next destination.