145 km – Khartoum to Rafaa. I now feel as though I am riding in Africa. Today was a challenging ride for all – temperatures greater than 44C (118F) with strong and steady crosswind. The sweep and lunch trucks were full of bikes and bikers that couldn’t do the full day. The scenery was alive in color, from the blue of the sky to the green of the trees along the Blue Nile to the yellow, red, and black of the sand. But, many riders only noticed the tarmac in front of them – finding that easier to concentrate on than the countryside of Sudan. In times like these, I just look up and think, “wow – we are riding our bicycles in Sudan!” Two events reminded me of that today: A bus load of brightly colored clothed women who sang us a traditional song at the police check point and a group of schoolchildren who broke into applause when we passed. As we go south, the calls to prayer are fewer, the style of dress is more western or less modest but the hospitality of the people remains as strong as ever.
Funny side story from my friend Kritian, the photographer. Along the route, he stopped to take pictures at the goat market. Somehow, he entered into negotiations and bargained down a baby goat from 120 SP to 90 SP (About $30US)! He and Gabe, the bike mechanic, put the goat into Kristian’s camera bag on the rear pannier and he cycled for 50km with a 15kg goat! It was a bit heavy, so he offloaded it at the lunch stop and some local farmer had a fortunate day in receiving a free goat! Tomorrow, Kristian is hoping for a donkey:)