It is so strange to enter a large city after four days in the desert. The morning began as peacfully as the others – with a sky full of stars (including the Southern Cross on the horizon). The sliver of moon from yesterday didn’t show itself at 5:30 when everybody started their musical tent instruments. You can imagine the morning symphony from 60 tents!
With the tents packed and the sun just rising, we started the morning ride. 68 km until the “lunch” truck. I chatted along with Luke, skipping the time trial possibility, and barely noticing the cross head wind. At the trucks today we had to wait in order to be escorted by the Sudanese tourism police in a convoy into the city. A 44km convoy with 70 riders in noon day sun is not the most enjoyable experience but there were SO many things to see and hear and smell. Men lining the streets calling out, small children waving, trash burning in tire pits in the dry canal on the side of the road, open markets of car covers, long wooden sticks, and toilets (this is where all the toilets in Sudan are located:), donkeys and goats, rickshaws, bicycles, taxis, and an escort from the Sudanese Cycling Group. One man I chatted with is from Darfur and came east to Khartoum to study mechanical engineering. He is bringing his family over next month for safety. So interesting…
Although the camping area is clean with a little grass (we are all covered in head to toe dirt), a few of us decided to take a tiny bus cab up to the city to the Center Hotel – no frills but an amazing view over a center roundabout of chaos and flowing water!!! I literally shaved the dirt off my body. Only to discover that the mosquito bites I thought I had are actually bed bug bites from my hotel night in dongola. I am itchy and covered!
Ah well, at least the tummy is better. We already had a falaful and roasted corn to test it (the corn was given to me by a woman in the falafel restaurant. I just asked her where to buy it and she pulled out an ear from her bag!) Just another example of HOW NICE Sudanese people are. We stopped in another hotel to ask for net cafe and the bellboy walked us down the street and up the stairs to where I sit now. No tip (bashish) expected, just a smile:)
Pictures to come and I’ll fill in the last four riding days after I have had more to eat!