Stage 26: Farm Camp to Bahir Dar
Today will be the shortest day of this entire tour. I’m not sure why it’s been scheduled this way, but suspect it’s related to the big hills on Stages 23-24 (which we missed) and the major climb facing us on our next day of cycling, Stage 27. Perhaps both.
We got away early enough, to light traffic on a reasonable tarmac. Countryside in the central plateau / highlands of Ethiopia is really beautiful, most especially in the first hours of morning, last hour or so of the afternoon. Some long low hills, but nothing dramatic, so I could keep a good consistent pace. Surprisingly, no stone throwing detected, by me at least, although a group of young girls tried to block progress and then slapped at arms as I went by (but minor). Alice caught me up before the halfway point and subsequently led me up the remaining hills on the day. We finished the ride together in very good time, making it into the Bahir Dar hotel destination before 10:00.
Warka tree (Fiscus vasta)
* photo courtesy Michiel van Walsem
As an aside, I subsequently saw a bit of TV that afternoon, a sort of candid camera type program, wherein man posing as mannequin on street jumps out at passing pedestrians, startling or making them jump or scream in fright. Very funny to the show’s producers at least. Having been subject to this behaviour over the past days as a cyclist, I can’t say that I feel the same amusement.
Because we picked up a day when we got driven from Gallabat/Metema border crossing to Gondar, TDA are giving us an extra rest day here in Bahir Dar. Virtually all the riders and crew are checked into one or another of two adjacent hotels here in Bahir Dar. We’ll be departing per schedule on 17-February via combi for the ‘forest camp’ and then our first day back on the bikes will be Stage 27 and the Blue Nile Gorge on the 18th.
A ‘costume party’ was declared as being on the agenda for this evening; costume items had to be sourced from the local market being main stipulation. Hmmm ... a wander through the market proved rather depressing, at least initially. How many wrist watches, plastic shoes, bleached and torn denim does a person really need in this life. Then I found the spices and food area, which just made me hungry. Finally stumbled onto the Ethiopia fabric and woven goods area (this market is huge!). Spied a nice scarf and toque ... why not?! They’ll come in handy when the nights get chilly again, Namibia and SA. The event turned out really well; I feel that I’m fortunate to be with such a good group, both TDA crew and the riders. Disparate ages and personalities for sure, but really all are getting along better than might have been anticipated.