We have arrived in Ethiopia and the cycling just got very tough. The flat roads of Sudan have been replaced with the punishing hills and mountains. Yesterday three monkeys ran across the road in front of me. Brilliant!!! We still have to avoid all the donkeys, cows, and goats but seeing these little critters gives me the feeling that we are now out of the arabic/islamic North and now we have really arrived in Africa.
The end of Sudan was as follows:
165km to a field near Wad Medani, 145km to a field near Al Fao, 125km to Gedaref and then 157km to reach Gallabat at the border. The going was all flat but Wad Medani to Gedaref was tough as we were battling with cross-wind. I actually spent the first three days riding alone as I had stopped to wait for Alex but he hadn’t seen me and we ended up missing each other each day until we arrived in Gedaref.
But as usual the Sudanese were incredibly hospitable, and before being reunited with my cycling buddy I was invited to eat with the local police and had made two more Sudanese friends, and I was even invited to Kassala by three girls (girls! girls actually speaking to me!). I politely refused of course. We had to get to Ethopia.
We reached Gallabat but had to wait a night in an awful lokanda as the border police had shut up shop for the night.
In the morning we crossed into the Ethiopian town of Metema, where we changed some cash. I was very disappointed to get just 2.1 birra per sudanese pound but I had been told that Sudanese money would become worthless outside Sudan, so what could I do? At least the welcome we got was nice and friendly.
We immediately ran into hills and so our pace was much slower. Everywhere we went, kids would shout ” You you you!” and wave or chase us. By nightfall, we had done 90km and arrived in the small town of Nagade Bahir, and enjoyed our first beer with the locals. We are now learning Americ so we had to resort to sign language and gestures but we still had a good laugh with them. The ‘hotel’ we stayed in was even worse than the lokandas in Sudan and I have been bitten a lot already by mosquitoes and bed bugs.
And yesterday was very mountainous. Having felt ill since I woke up, I must admit the cycling was not enjoyable at all. But the surprisingly lush green land and lofty mountains made for spectacular scenery , and there were moments when all the hard work was rewarded with a breathtaking view. But the roads are very very steep and it was a tough day.
After 80km I still had 30km to reach Gonder when I was offered a lift in a truck. A man named Addis told me it was dangerous in the dark, and as I have seen a number of people with kalashnikov rifles (not sure why farmers need automatic weapons!) I accepted the offer. Alex had already accepted a lift earlier so I met up with him at Gonder, where the accommodation is much more palatable.
Today we will rest in Gonder which is a place full of history and features a number of castles. They call it the “camelot of Africa”
except that Camelot was fictitious and this place is very real.
12,776km so far and with some big mountains to climb, I think Ethiopia is going to take a while…