97km – Daka camp to Matema, Ethiopia. A tremenous wind storm rolled in during the night (literally it sounded likeDay 27 – a huge truck rumbling down the road before the cool breeze washed over us). It was the perfect night to follow the lead of James and Bastiaan and forgo the tent for a night under the stars. I felt rested enough to go for the day on the bike, slowly and on pavement. Slowly and surely, I rolled into lunch with Bastiaan chatting away with me. A quick break and then 35km of easy pace and the start of the hill country to the border. It was easy to get the exit stamp from Sudan – so long hospitable people, fair deals in markets, conservative dress, and calls to prayer.
Hello Ethiopia and people, people, people. First, we had to wait three hours in the immigration office to receive the stamp and tell what our occupation is (I am thinking of officially changing to yoga instructor). A couple of us went horizontal on the concrete floor, covered faces with bike helmets to keep off the flies, and went to sleep. We are so dirty after 7 days without a shower and riding in the dirt all day, that laying on the floor doesn’t make much difference – all colors are just brownish/blackish. Others enjoyed their first beers in a couple weeks (Sudan is dry).
What a difference a border makes! The streets were lined with shops selling junk, bars with alcohol, people in western clothes. We rode slowly, trying to take it all in, but it was such a culture shock! I am not sure I am ready for it, but here comes Ethiopia.