Stage 14: Nile Valley Camp to Dongola
For once in a while it seems, I’m up and packed and having a cup of coffee with a few moments to spare before breakfast. When that happy moment arrives, another great surprise: Tallis is dishing out French Toast along with appropriate maple syrup and the usual porridge. Doesn’t get much better!
We get out onto the road just after sunrise, and another strong tailwind blows us along. For whatever reason (possibly the 4-5 pieces French Toast?), I’ve not got a lot of spring in the legs this morning, and trail Grace and Greg for the first 10-20 km or so. Then for whatever reason, it comes right and we pick up the pace. Omar comes by so I go with him for a bit before being dropped, but by then I’ve set into my own rhythm and all feels good, and even make contact with a Rachel. Make the lunch spot before 10:00 and as I’m not yet really hungry, only have a single pass at the trough before setting out again. Winds shift from tail to rear-quartering and cross, but still make reasonable pace. Winds are also throwing a fair amount of dust and the air is rather murky, unlike the past two weeks. Some thin Cirrus clouds to the west suggest weather change? Get to the major turn of the day and encounter the first traffic lights since departing Cairo, well more than 1600 km in the rear window. Strong cross winds as I head west to pass again over the Nile River. Stop to see some young men playing soccer on artificial turf and get into friendly conversation with additional guys coming to join the game or practise underway. They insist upon taking selfies with me; it seems old cyclists are photo-worthy.
Continue onto camp in Dongola, getting in a few moments after 12:00. Per prior agreement, I grab my two bags and load all into a waiting tuk-tuk and head over to the hotel where I’ll be sharing a room for the two nights with Jim. I leave bike locked up at camp; will return tomorrow morning on our rest day to do some cleaning and preventative maintenance. This hotel not 5-star, but seems ok given the cost; beds are two box springs, one on top of another. We’ll be using our sleeping pads and bags, tonight. The shower water is blissfully hot.
Not much open today in Dongola, it being a Friday but we join a group headed some distance away via tuk-tuk to a place reputedly to have good chicken dinners. This turns out to be a relatively fancy resort sort of place, and we wonder why aren’t we staying here?! There’s a fair number of kids and young teenagers in attendance in the back garden area, and we get almost mobbed with questions about where we’re from, what are our names, and welcome to Sudan. Interestingly, many if not most do not agree to having their photo taken, but are very willing to take selfie photos with us in the frame. Eventually we do get our chicken dinner with bread and humus, rice and french fries; it’s more than we can consume, despite some heroic efforts. It’s also pretty good; total bill for the 11 of us is USD 22.00, picked up by Peter which was very good of him. We move onto coffee and cakes in adjoining cafe in the garden; don’t know what that cost, as this time it’s Fernando’s treat!
A bit of frustration on my part this eveningas for whatever reason, I’m not able to create a post on this blog site; network issues, I suppose. So for the time being, will upload the text, and try to get photos into the Gallery via Instagram
Looking forward to rest day tomorrow.