I’m feeling tired this evening. The past two weeks have been quite intense, and now the initial excitement about our tour has worn off a little. It has simply become our new way of life—a way that’s in constant motion. Even though we have quite a bit of time to chill and relax, it doesn’t feel like that to me.
It feels like there always is something to do—get dressed before sunrise; pack up my tent while the sun comes up; wash my hands; eat breakfast; clean my plate; toilet; wash my hands; re-fill my water bottles; make sure to leave camp shortly after sunrise; cycle—feeling strong; cycle—looking forward to lunch; wash my hands; eat lunch; clean my plate; re-fill my water bottles; re-apply sunscreen; toilet; wash my hands; cycle—feeling strong again; cycle—butt starts to feel very sore; cycle—getting tired; cycle—counting down the kilometers to camp; mission accomplished; note down my cycling time; toilet; wash my hands; put up my tent; re-charge my devices; get cleaned up; wash my clothes; wash my hands; eat soup; edit my photos; riders meeting; wash my hands; eat dinner; clean my plate; toilet; blog; toilet; sleep; and start all over again.
Right now, I can feel the effect of this constant motion—I’m tired! Luckily, we have a rest day tomorrow. There’s the option to go on a sightseeing tour to some pyramids (Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt, or any other country globally). However, those pyramids are a two-hour bus ride outside of Dongola. I can’t be bothered, and I think that doesn’t make me an exception in our group. Tomorrow, I only have one priority: take a much-needed break.
NB: You might have noticed that my last few posts have been delayed. That’s because of bad Internet connection. I still write them each evening, and back-date them to the appropriate time when posting. Am also struggling to sync my Garmin data every now and then, even though Internet works otherwise. No Strava update doesn’t mean that I didn’t cycle, just that I haven’t been able to upload the files yet.
Stage 14: Nile Ferry Camp – Dongola (Sudan), 115.5km
Road & traffic condition:
Initially great roads and little traffic as usual.
Desert giving way to more agricultural land and small villages.
Traffic picking up ahead of Dongola. For the first time, I had to move from the road into the gravel when a crazy bus driver decided to overtake a truck at high speed and came all the way over to my side. Not as scary though, because I could see it coming from afar. We also came across the first traffic light that we’d seen since Cairo (but it was off).
Windy—good for cycling (mostly tailwind), less fortunate for lunch as the strong wind blows sand onto our plates and the food from our plates! I bet we’ve all swallowed a kilo of sand by now.
Chicken—the specialty in Dongola.
#1: Relatively easy cycling day of only 115km on mostly flat terrain with lots of tailwind, meaning that most of us got into Dongola by noon. That left us plenty of time to get ourselves and our clothes cleaned, and to clear the sand from our tents, bike chains, and everywhere else that it had seeped through. Now we can all look forward to a relaxing rest day tomorrow.
#2: On rest days and the evening before, it’s always up to us to find our own food and fend for ourselves. Different from prior rest days, there’s no restaurant at our camp site. I should add that, like many others, I had gotten myself a room in what’s supposed to be the top hotel in Dongola (but wouldn’t even deserve two stars anywhere else). By the time I had cleaned all my stuff, I felt hungry again. “Sorry, no food here, ” the receptionist informed me. At the same time, a group from our camp site raided our hotel, also in search for food that they had hoped to find at the hotel. Some tuktuk drivers were waiting to give us a lift. “Restaurant, chicken,” we said, and they nodded. So off we went, 8 hungry cyclists in three tuktuks.
The restaurant only had Arabic menus, and no one spoke any English. One of the tuktuk drivers busied himself to order for us. And food we got—soup, followed by lots of chicken, accompanied by rice, fries and bread. We stuffed ourselves crazy and paid less than USD5 for the treat!
The tuktuk drivers had been waiting for us. “Supermarket”, we told them next, and would plunder a local grocery store. Surely, they got a nice cut for bringing us customers. My low-carb treat for the evening and breakfast: canned pineapple, feta, cream cheese, sardines, and coffee. You eat what you get. 🙂 Can’t wait for the fresh fruit market tomorrow!
As our tuktuk approached the hotel, I opened my plastic ziplock money bag to pay. Inside the bag, I had also kept my tiny home SIM card, safely locked away, wrapped in a tissue paper. For whatever reason, a crazy wind bow blew that tissue containing my SIM card from inside my bag out into nowhere. “In that crazy wind, it could be anywhere,” Rob kindly helped me look for it.—”I can’t believe I was so stupid to lose that,” I resigned after few minutes looking amidst sand and dirt, having picked up lots of germs by touching random old tissue paper in the hope it might be mine, “will have to get a new one.”—”I found it,” Rob shouted as he walked back to the tuktuk. He found the needle in the haystack and has made my day—thank you, Rob!