Stage 21: Bush camp to Al Qadarif
I knew this was going to be a difficult day, and I wasn’t wrong. We tracked east pretty much all day fighting swirling crosswinds from the North. Early on, one gust blew me off the road; I didn’t go down, but certainly went barrelling off down the embankment.
Today, we took advantage of I think all the coke stops; tea in the morning for me at the one stop, cold water and shade in the afternoon at 3-4 more. Hydration is a must.
Scenery has changed from the agribusiness-dominated cotton fields of yesterday and just plain empty fields from the day before, to outcropping granite hills first thing this morning, changing again into endless maize fields on our left (north), and bush on our right (south).
The wind is blowing appreciable amounts of fine dust (topsoil?) and the sky is murky much of the day. A dust storm threatens in the evening.
Traffic is moderate but steady. The road is typically bumpy from rough patching of some of the many potholes. There also are real dips and crests in the surface as well, especially near the edges, I’m guessing from the tarmac melting during the real summer heat.
The afternoon after lunch break becomes very warm; I’m not alone is feeling strung out. This will, in the end, prove to be the longest day yet at 7 hours in the saddle.
On the final 10 kms, a group of teens are encountered, blocking or trying to block the road. Sticks, stones, grabbing or slapping hands fall upon several of the overall group. A sour note on which to end this long and hot ride.
Camp is reached and we’ve bucket showers arranged for only SDG 50 in a nearby hovel. Wonderful.
Even better, a group of community elders and police officers approach with chilled hibiscus juice in one large container, and baobab (?) in the other; dates and peanuts also offered around. I understand this was previously arranged to welcome this years TDA; it was and is a lovely gesture.
The camp is not quite surrounded but flanked on 2-3 sides by probably all the kids from around. Lots of chattering, and some cautious approaches by the bolder. Eventually a donkey is produced and Mike (who’s a big guy!) and Mara takes turns trying to coax the animal into trotting about. A group of girls approach the kitchen area to see what, how our meals are being prepared in a field set-up.
Eventually all quiets down; all except Omar that is, who is wielding hammer, large wrenches and anything else he can think of to deploy, in a truly heroic effort to unstick Alice’ seat post.
The moon is full tonight.