30.01.2009 42 °C
We still have four more days in Sudan and this is good!
We arrived in Karthoum yesterday night - today was a rest day - Much needed. I went on an organized tour from an NGO that one of the riders is raising funds for. We visited a camp for "displaced" families from the South of Sudan and Darfour (other way to call them would be "refugees" but that could be politically incorrect...)
There were over 80 children signing songs and looking at us with curiosity. One could say that it was all "make good feeling" - but honestly I felt honored to be there and share that time with the kids. We distributed mosquitoes nets as there is an issue with Malaria right now. The NGO family were Christians and offered a total different perspective on Sudan - but yet the same great hospitality that keeps me so amazed!!
I got chance to speak a little politic with one of the local. No pretention on my part, the issues in Sudan are so complicated between the conflicts regarding religion, the conflict in the South over petroleum resources (and independency), the involvement of Chinese investment which is not always so well received by some of the Sudanese - in one of the village we crossed in the North there was a message on a wall saying - "China stop destroying Nubia!". In English and arabic. The NGO also took us around in Karthoum and we got a chance to see the place where the White Nile and the Blue Nile meet - I must confess that I did not see a difference between the two waters but the Lonely Planet says we should so I must be going blind from over exposure to the sun.
More seriously - Karthoum is a big African city - with garbage everywhere, crazy drivers in the city (we actually did a 2 hours convoy to ride the 30km on the day we entering Karthoum - the police was escorting us with their sirens - at first it looked a little over the top - but having now seen how they drive I am grateful!!.) We reached a "campground" that is really hard to decribe (not a paradise - rather desolate land but it still felt like home after a long hot day and WE HAD SHOWERS! - except that lucky as I am, I may have encountered the only "pervert" in all Sudan - as one local man insisted in taking a shower with me - at firtst I did not quite understand but it became obvious that he was just not trying to show me how to best operate the shower!!! I was hungry, tired, grumpy and angry so I let you guess: even without speaking arabic, I managed to get him out !!! Well, honestly this an exception and I maintain that the Sudanese people who have crossed are among the most generous people we have met!
A sweet story: Two days ago I had a flat tire in the middle of the afternoon. Just finished fixing my flat and putting myself and Orimou back together when a car passed on the other side - turned around and came back on my side. It was a Sudanese family who wanted to make sure that I was all ok. I smiled and gestured that I was ok - But the man had driven his car in the sand on the side of the road and the car was now stucked! First the man was adimant: I and the two other women in the car should not push - he would put his car (manual) on neutral and push by himself - well that did not work. He then agree that he would drive and I would push (that did not work either) - then we switched: I drove and he pushed - what a funny feeling - here I am in desert - with my bike helmet turning the wheel of a car in Sudan - but again it did not work - the man flagged a truck and two big truck drivers got out as I was opening the door of his car. They had a big laugh seeing me with my lycra, cycling shoes and helmet on my head exiting this car! At the end, we all pushed and the car was free. Result: 10 minutes to change my flat and 20 minutes to get the car out of the sand BUT what an experience. Mom: See how people take good care of your "little" girl!
Tomorrow we are leaving Karthoum and will be going south to El Hasaheesa, Alfans, Gedanef, Matema, and Gonder before entering Ethiopia.
For those who asked - daily food looks like:
Depending of morning: Porridge, gruau or some kind of sweet polenta, a fruit (bananas, grapefruit or orange) tea or coffee
Lunch truck: usually after 60 or 80 km: sandwiches (eggs salad, tuna - good days) or just cucumbers and tomatoes and cheese (hum I get hungry on these days), again a fruit and always possibility of peanut butter and jam if above not good or enough for the rider
We get to camp and TDA always have soup ready - wonderful moment - Serioulsy the best of all even when it is +40 celsius - it is great to rehydrate!
Then supper around 1730 - so far, really good meals - usually one type of meat, rice and vegetables - the TDA are great and we eat well and as much as we need! The last few days have been red meat so I have elected to transform myself in vegetarians - mium
I still go to bed hungry by 2000 (I must still be growing up - but that would be a problem as the tent is only 6.2 feet and I am already covering 98% of that space) - yes I do go to the tent at around 2000 (actually a few of us do!! & exhausted like for the Tour du Canada). Read, look at the star and fall asleep between 2030 and 2100!!!! I am old and in need of sleep
Oups forgot - bush camp means washing oneself with one bottle of water 750 ml - so wash face, legs, rear end and arms and feel great! I won't describe my hair - after 5 days of not washing!!! But who cares - Life is great looking at stars and getting on my bike at 0730 am totally free for the rest of the day - hypnotise by the scenaries and the people I will meet!
An happy Sonia - who is in a shopping mall in Karthoum and will go to get an ice cream - the first and probably last for a few weeks as we won't see a shopping mall before Addis in Ethiopia - weird to be in a shopping mall but was easier to get internet!
Over the last four days, we moved to pavement with days of 120 to 150 km and temperature of more than 40 celsius as of noon. Hot hot hot. We are now in the Saharien Desert and there is a rather "still" factor - I am not sure how to describe it - but the haze from the sun and the dust, the orangy colors from the heat of the afternoon almost bring me to a semi hypnotic state!