Stage 12: Wadi Halfa to Farkha
For the first time on this trip, a night not cold; started off after the usual striking of camp and breakfast, just after sunup. Wearing only two layers this morning. A simple route today, turn right out of camp, two more turns while still in town, then hit the main road south, and continue on for the days ride to Farkha.
We’re cycling on a two-lane road, pretty good tarmac for the most part. No paved shoulder to speak of, but so far at least, drivers respectful, often tooting their hellos, flashing lights or waving. Not much traffic though, so generally a quiet day. The landscape soon becomes quite dramatic: this is the Nubian Desert, dominated by volcanics and what I think are basaltic flows, all very rugged. The road provides some ups and downs, not serious, but amounting to close to 1000 m on the day. Big sweeping curves, great vistas. Both yesterday and today, I’m hit by the enormity of this venture.
We’re again helped along much of the day by decent tailwinds and make good time. Lunch stop at 10:00-10:30 a bit early, but I don’t seem to have any problem in eating twice my usual intake for mid-day.
A coke stop toward the final stretch provides diversion; this place is really a bustling truck stop where a thriving market in about everything appears to have sprung up in an otherwise nondescript location. We spy a coca-cola delivery truck, and enter the shed in front. The scene is akin to a Mad Max film or the space cafe in Star Wars. Several ‘booths’ wherein a fellow is making omelettes, or frying fafalels or in yet another, chopping meat with enthusiasm and a large cleaver. Further back in the gloom, men at tables drinking tea, eating, smoking and all seem to be looking at us. Milan figures out the system. First one goes to a guy sitting behind mesh wire in a sort of cage, orders drinks or whatever, and hands over the cash. The guy in turn hands back some coloured beads or tokens. We take those beads across the shed to another young guy in front of a couple of freezers, hand over the beads, and out come the cokes. Simple!
We push on to camp just past the village of Farkha. It’s pretty dusty and definitely windy. Putting up a tent in this is entertaining to watch, less so to be actually doing it, is my feeling in the matter. Lots of kids already surrounding the camp, overseeing all with great interest. A couple of kids are selling soft drinks and water. After some soup and a mug of bush tea, I head to the Nile, only a few hundred metres walk to the west, for a bath and swim. A farmer has assured that no crocs around today and I reckon, the heck with bilharzia and the like, two successive days of long rides warrants a soaking. The current is a little strong, so I’m venturing only a little ways out, just enough to get fully submerged. The water is ‘bracing’ and makes one feel human again after these past days of getting blasted by dust and winds.
It’s still early enough in the day that I can grab a short snooze before the 5:15 rider’s meeting and then dinner. The sunset is a lovely end to another good day’s ride.