Stage 31: Lake Koka to Ostrich Camp
We’d been briefed on the previous evening riders meeting that today’s road harassment by kids and youths could be significant, and that we should not ride alone. That and the heavy traffic, both predicted to increase in the afternoon, was a great motivation for an early start.
Rachel and I got away just at sunrise with a bit of a tailwind as it turned out. The road surface varied between heavily cracked and broken, interrupted by large potholes, to brand new and smooth. A few small sections of active road construction also occurred. From a very large billboard we passed, it seems the Mojo-Hawassa highway will be a dual carriageway, eventually. Given the traffic on this stretch, it can’t come soon enough.
The run to lunch went without any real incident, at least for us. One stone throwing threat, but I don’t believe a release occurred. Traffic heavy but generally respective. The Dutch Train reported a near miss with large transport truck and trailer, forcing bailout onto the gravel. No injuries. It wasn’t a relaxing stage at all; even without the warning of these conditions, the ride was just not inspiring.
We teamed up with Pete, Naomi and Jim for the final stretch after lunch. Pete led us on a brisk pace, and we got into camp just before noon. A short break for roadside coffee added to a better feeling. We also waved greetings and threw smiles at literally everyone along the roadside, thinking it might just disarm would-be aggression. As it turned out, the only stone throwing noted came from a 3-5 year old, who was immediately reprimanded by older brother(?) who turned around and threw stones at the kid. The circle continues.
Our campsite tonight is in the Abidjatta Shalla National Park. What a contrast with the overgrazed fields outside the park. Knee high grass between the acacia, with ostrich and warthogs being almost immediately spotted. Prolific bird life. Another surprise; plentiful water for bucket showers and an eastern toilet in private enclosure. The afternoon got even better when Tallis reappeared from a beer and soda run; dampened towel covering and evaporative cooling brought these drinks to almost ‘chilled’ ... delicious treat.
For the first time, I feel I’m camped in Africa.