Change of Plans
Stages 23-24: Gallabat/Metema to Gondar
Well... “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.” We were told only on the previous day that we’d not be permitted by Police and Military to cycle the two stages comprising Gallabat to Gondar. This due to a flare-up of civil unrest, of which I really don’t have any hard information. So, we cycled the 1500 metres from camp to the Gallabat border crossing and then eventually walked the short distance into Ethiopia at Metema. That consumed 4-1/2 hours.
By the time we were all cleared through, it was well past 11:00, and the day again uncomfortably warm. Given that there’s a 1-hour time shift forward upon entering Ethiopia, really no way I’d have been able to sweat up the +1800 m and 100 km before sunset. Not to mention, the 3:00 pm curfew on the road. As it was, the usual 2-1/2 hour drive took almost 5-1/2 hours with repeated police/military check points, searches, identity checks, etc...
While the first portion of Stage 23 was less than inspiring, the grade steadily increased into some significant hills. However, the course over Stage 24 was simply beautiful; late afternoon light and shadows showing the Ethiopian Highlands at close to their best. The big climbs on this stage were BIG. They’d have been a challenge for sure, let alone with heat thrown into the mix. However, nothing to be done other than to accept the situation.
We got to the hotel camping site close to sunset; great views out over the city. TDA spotted us a hotel dinner given the late hour; most put up tents on the hotel lawn, whereas I opted for a small pension -type hotel that we’d stayed at 5 years earlier when visiting Gondar.
Look forward to rest day tomorrow.