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I Will Eat Your Soul

Stage 25: Gondar to Farm Camp

A later start than usual due to the recent time zone change and a little later sunrise expressed in local time, plus we had a hotel breakfast in Gondar, not the more time-efficient camp breakfast. Then a somewhat complicated route to get out of town, with early morning pedestrian, donkey and vehicular traffic adding to the mix. However, within 30-45 minutes we’re past the airport and on relatively quiet roads (and with new tarmac surfaces) leading south and then southeast, skirting Lake Tana to our west.

The road and the scenery are really something; rolling fields comprising the Highlands in this area. Very large hills or mountains in the further distance. The air is fairly dusty though, long distance views murky; disappointing for photographs.

Several dramatic volcanic plugs or remanent cores occur through the morning; they appear to be a rock climbers dream.

The only real blemish in the day is the essentially constant threat of rock or stone throwing by the kids along the way, who seem to materialize out of thin air sometimes. Their typical warning being “you you you you you” closely followed by “money money money money money”. I’m not entirely sure they know the meaning of the former, but pretty confident they understand the latter. One never knows if it’s going to be rock or a wave being thrown; sometimes both. No serious harm done today, however, fortunately.

I did get tagged a good one in the ankle which startled more than hurt. Otherwise, just small stones into the spokes or off the handlebars. The classic quote on the day was provided to a fellow rider by a small Ethiopian girl with very sharp (sharpened?) teeth, overheard declaring “I will eat your soul.”

A flat tire suffered by Ingrid at about the 40 km mark immediately draws a curious crowd; hands reach out from the gathered masses to rest the tire pressure, flick the break levers, or just touch what they can. All ages here, from little ones in arms to elders.

Two good climbs on the day, separated by lunch and the temperature. The first short but steep done in still coolish morning, the second was long and more drawn out, done in the noontime sun. Then ~15 kilometres of downhill followed by ~25 more across a valley floor and that was the days ride.

Our camp is set up in a farmers field; kids and cows and sheep press up tight against our perimeter fence (a single stand of twine). We must appear as the Circus Come to Town.

A momentary diversion is provided by three backpackers trudging up the road in late afternoon. Our swarm becomes their swarm. They turn back and come across to our encampment. After a short discussion, they’re invited to dinner and to camp inside our ‘perimeter.’ It turns out these young Belgians are on their way north to Cairo from Cape Town, hitchhiking for the most part it seems.

Sunset is again stunning; Venus appears right afterwards. Jim’s birthday today yields a very chocolaty dessert. All good.

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