Stage 16: Dead Camel to Desert Hut
The stars were indeed a spectacle last night and earlier this morning.
I suppose as we’re again in the Nubian desert, the nights and early mornings are decidedly chilly. It was certainly back to crowding about the kitchen burners pre-dawn to warm up a little.
We got away in good time, riding directly into a just rising sun; decidedly tricky for the first +30 minutes to see the pitfalls and where the shoulder may or may not be until the sun is truly up. The first 48 kilometres today have us tracking generally southeast and then east, paralleling the Nile over on our left. Gusty crosswinds complicate matters, but the required effort at least warms me up soon.
Traffic is getting busier by the moment; cars, trucks and buses all hurtling in either direction. Within an hour we’re passing through some large village or town (name unknown to me) experiencing a Monday morning rush, drivers pulling out from either side, vehicles passing one another in our oncoming lane, kids going to school by foot or on donkey, darting across the road. We’re on high alert; several times I bail onto the adjoining gravel as someone in a rush approaches, thankful for both my large tires and the suspension forks.
Urchins appear from the alleys (these kids are not in school!) ... potential geologists or possibly budding mineralogists, they stoop to collect stones which they clutch in both hands as we approach. Doubtless they want to show off their treasure. Due to a pressing appointment further down the road, I bypass the opportunity to stop, but they let fly their specimens regardless, I suppose hoping for a change of mind.
It’s a relief to be through and out of town.
At the 48 km mark we hit Abu Dom which is essentially a roundabout-controlled junction; going straight through we’re now headed due south with again a joyous tailwind pushing us along. The landscape shifts from stony hardscrabble plains adjoining the Nile to the yellows and duns of desert country. Not much vegetation, mostly sand and sun-blasted outcrops peeping through from time to time, with scattered grasses once in a while.
A quick lunch stop at the 80 km mark and we go on into a steadily warming day. I’m mindful to reach for the water bottle every 10 minutes for a mouthful, wondering if that’s even enough; this tailwind and our speed probably masks the levels of fluids we actually need to stay well hydrated.
One thing I haven’t commented on is the musical horns by which many vehicles (mostly the large transport trucks) greet us; they play tunes! I must try to record an example and if see I can include a sound clip in a future blog posting.
Reach the camp destination about 1:15; seriously warm now, I’m thankful to be done for the day. Francis later tells me he noted 28° about noontime on his cycling Garmin. It certainly feels all of that, especially if one is out of the wind.
It’s a desert campsite all right; endless space in which to erect one’s tent. A welcome surprise is the availability of washing-up water, provided by a local entrepreneur: SDG 50 for a bucket shower/bath. A simple pleasure to wash away some of the road dust and grime, providing a real attitude adjustment.
This is really a windy site; fine sand leaks into everything, and tent zippers commonly seems to be sticking, which I suspect will eventually lead to some issues down the road. But for now, it’s just nice to relax under the shade of the Mothership and chat about the day.