It’s been so windy and sandy today that we’ve barely seen the sun. After my tent was almost blown away yesterday, I’ve remembered to use rocks to fasten my pegs and guy lines today. Proud of my accomplishment—a smoothly erected tent in a crazy wind—I briefly turned around to fetch my bike. Before I knew it, my tent was tumbling and rolling in the wind across the desert, just like a beach ball.
Thankfully, Allam and Bashary (from the Sudanese tourism police; he accompanies us throughout Sudan), were nearby. They caught my tent for me and held it down while I went off looking for even bigger rocks. “That should be OK now,” we all agreed after putting a rock the size of a shoe box onto the guy line most exposed to the wind. Finally, I could proceed to cleaning myself.
“We had some issues at that camp last year,” Tallis briefed us yesterday, “because some female riders washed themselves outside wearing only their sports bras. The people in that area are very conservative, so please respect that and don’t get naked outside.” Afraid to cause any issues, I crawled into my hot tent to change. Even though I had thoroughly cleaned my tent in the morning, and it had been fully zipped up ever since, the inside was full of sand once again. Sand everywhere and anywhere—never-ending story of our journey through Sudan!
After a soup and coffee break, during which I probably swallowed another handful of sand, I went back to my tent to look after my devices that I’d left to re-charge via my solar panels. Just in time—my tent guy lines had slipped loose again, and my tent was just about to fly away another time. Yet more and heavier rocks had to be collected . . . and that seems to have done the trick, eventually.
But I won’t complain. The sand and wind is all part of the experience, and I definitely prefer the wind to 50° Celsius that they had last year. “If I ever complain on this tour,” I joked to Tallis yesterday, “then tell me to harden the f..k up.” (Rule Number 5 of The Velominati cycling bible). When I appeared at camp somewhat exhausted after pushing through heavy side wind for 30km, he was about to remind me of what I had said yesterday. “No need,” I countered instantly,”I’m not complaining,” and put on my broadest smile. “We had to earn our stage, would have been all too easy otherwise!”
Stage 17: Desert Camp – Abu Dolooa (Sudan), 147.5km
Road & traffic condition:
As usual—good roads, crazy bus drivers.
Windy, to the degree that the air was filled with sand and we hardly saw the sun. Mostly tailwind though, fortunately.
Boiled beef (like the Austrian “Tafelspitz”), rice and peas for dinner. And while some people are getting bored with tuna for lunch, I’m still excited every time I’m getting a triple protein shot—tuna, eggs and beans today. 🙂
Our third night in a row camping in the desert without access to shower or toilet facilities—so far, so good. No one seems to be having any issues with that, or rather I think we all prefer nature to smelly squatting toilets, and wet wipes to cold showers. And just in case you wonder—no, no one stinks. You wouldn’t be able to tell that we haven’t showered for days!
Our camp was near a village today, so it was hard to have any privacy at all. Of course, all kids wherever we go are magically attracted to us—probably the most curious people they’ve ever seen.
Whenever mother nature is calling, with or without shovel, our goal has changed from finding a spot where no one can see us to minimizing the number of people who can see us. It’s all relative. But, so far, the kids have been reasonably well behaved and granted us privacy whenever we most needed it.
Contrary to kids in the Western world, whose work day ends with school, the work day of the kids in Sudan seems to start when they come home from school. Boy after boy came with his donkey cart to fetch water from a tank near our camp.