Today was our last day on tarmac. The directions have been relatively simple (as we’re used to in Sudan), mostly just straight with only a few turns. “At the Nile Bridge, don’t take photos,” Tallis warned us, “the police might fine you or, even worse, ask you to delete all your photos.” For whatever reason, taking photos of bridges is illegal in Sudan. The same applies to the White Nile / Blue Nile confluence in Khartoum, where—supposedly—people got arrested for taking photos from and of the bridge.
About 5km before the bridge, there was a police check point. I think the police tried to wave me down, but, as usual, I just kept going. They jumped into their car, turned on their siren and blue light, and went ahead of me. “That’s kind of cool,” I thought to myself, and turned on my GoPro video, wondering how long they would clear the way for me.
We went through a village and I felt like a super star again, cycling alone with police escort. “Perhaps they’ll just escort me across the bridge,” I thought, and felt naughtily exhilerated about my running video recording.
After the bridge, they still kept leading the way, which I was grateful for because traffic was hectic. All I needed to do was follow them. Then a car pulled up next to them and told them to move over. TOURISM POLICE was written on it. It’s quite confusing with the local police. No one seems to know who’s in charge of what, but the tourism police is definitely superior to the township police.
I thought the tourism police might tell the local guys to stop harrassing me, and just kept cycling. Few minutes later, the police car was back in front of me with siren and blue light. Then there was a right turn that I needed to take according to our directions, but the police went straight. By that time, the siren had become somewhat annoying, and I was quite happy to get rid of them.
Not that lucky—just two mintues later, they were back in front of me! However, I won’t complain. It was a busy stretch with lots of vehicles and people on the road. Having the police clear the way for me definitely helped to keep me safe. Every now and then, the police car pulled over and another police officer quickly jumped into the car. They surely also had a bit of fun with me.
What I had thought might be a few minutes of attention would turn into a 30+km private police escort, complete with siren and blue light all the way, from one police check point to the next! Just don’t tell them I was recording all along 😉
NB: Will need to do some editing first, but hope to upload new videos soon.
Stage 20: Rufaa – Sennar (Sudan), 156km
Road & traffic condition:
Still tarmac, but—like yesterday—a lot rougher and bumpy. Also lots of potholes for several kilometers through that town where I had my police escort.
Busy traffic at times, but they still seem to obey the rules and respect us cyclists. I’ve felt very welcome on the road today. The only time I had to stop was for cattle herds.
Very comfortable in the morning (no more frozen fingers), but crazy hot during the day. I think the maximum we’ve had today was 37° C—still less than the 50 degrees they had last year, but hot enough for us! The last 30km were quite a stretch of patience and stamina. My toes got so boiling hot and painful that it felt as if they would explode. The remainder of my body, however, felt OK while cycling.
Cold rice for lunch tastes quite refreshing . . .
. . . and beef patties for dinner even better.
I need to stop going back for second and third helpings—had five of these patties tonight. Yummy!
For the first time, we’ve been camping under trees—what a pleasant surprise! And within a short walk to the Nile, where we could wash and rinse our clothes. Under the shade of the trees, it didn’t even feel too hot. Despite the increased temperature, I definitely prefer tonight’s camp to the crazy wind and never-ending struggle with the sand in the desert. However, we’ve also had our first experience with the infamous African thorns. When stepped upon, they just go right through our soles—ouch! Better watch our steps.
On a less positive note, Charles, our star racer, had bad luck with his bike in the morning. His derailleur/derailleur hanger broke due to a piece of plastic that got stuck. However, Charles took it with grace and completed the entire long day on a borrowed bike, within a pretty good time. Well done! For the rest of us, this serves as yet another reminder how much we’re exposed to luck and circumstances completely out of our control.