[13/11/11~19 (D+810) North Sudan/to Dongola] Crossing the desert with a headwind
It is time to cycle in the desert, which I’ve been told. I got important information about miles that it will be no problem, I guess.
11th Nov 2013
Last night I stayed up late to finish checking information about the desert and writing my journal. My tonsil was swollen, which I am used to when I am tired. Stephene, who invited me at his house, printed some information about the miles ahead, which included a small cafeteria and a shop. Actually, I had already gotten this information from other people before. But that was ordered by descending so that I was not sure what kind of information I got at that time.
It is desolate. I can see often abandoned houses. Actually from the Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to Moltage Junction there is a new road, which was built a few years ago that there are only few villages. I prepare about 15L water to make sure crossing the desert for a few days. Left 9 L water is on the orange bag which is on the top of bicycle.
There is a miles sign from the entry of a new highway. According to information, there is a cafeteria on Km 33 (In Sudan, small shop is called “Cafeteria” (actually it is nothing when it is compared to a shop of the developed country)). Information is totally right that there is something on Km 33. Information says chicken is yummy so that I order. Oh. It is so delicious! The people urge me to sleep at the inside of Cafeteria, because outside is too dirty with rats. But I can’t find any woman that I feel so uncomfortable. So, I set up my tent at a net bed at the outside.
12th Nov 2013
The cafeteria is surrounded with garbage! Among the garbage, a donkey tries to find something to eat. I was so sick last night with swollen tonsils that I couldn’t sleep well, and I had a nightmare.
I think the goat is quite smart because it can stand on two legs to reach the leaves.
A long time has passed since I’ve seen another bicycle. The cyclist is British and he started from England. A long time has passed since I’ve seen another bicycle. The cyclist is British and he started from England. He has cycled over 6,000 km,(3,750 mi) and he wants to go to South Africa. He asked me how long it takes to get from Cape Town, South Africa to Sudan. I answered that it took me 10 months because I stopped many times and I am slow. He says, it is oaky, because I am almost done. Yes, it seems I am almost done.
While we share the information, there is a deafening roar. At a moment I am too being nervous and scared. It is said that there is an air force in the capital. I can’t imagine how people can live in a war area.
I had seen many African people don’t have a machine for agriculture that they just use their hands. But in Sudan I’ve seen different machine lots of times.
It seems that there is much water in Sudan as well. Usually I had seen people carrying water on their head or hands in other African country. But here always I can see water tank everywhere.
Is this smaller one watermelon? How come it can survive alone in the desert? In the afternoon I can see the street vender of watermelon often. A few kids are together and sell the watermelon. One of them, maybe 7 years old boy, holds a big stone as big as his hand and waits me. It seems like he could throw it at me. So, I stop at him and warn. Then when I try to cycle again, he pretends throwing at me. If it is unlucky, he could throw at me seriously and I will be bled. So I turn my handlebar and go to him. I persuade him, saying “Drop it”. Of course, he cannot understand English, but I am sure he understands my body language at least. While he keeps holding, his older brother, maybe around 10 years old, urges him to drop it. Finally he gives up and drops it and shows me empty hands.
In Africa it seems that when their domestic animal gets injured or is died, then people leave and abandon them on the road. It is the desert that it can be kept longer on the road.
One guy, a watermelon vendor, keeps moving and blocking my way as I cycle. As he keeps blocking, I try to avoid.. then.. I am on the middle of the lane. A car which is coming from opposite way makes a big honk and another car from other way is coming. We could be hit by cars. Finally the guy step back. Oh… it is afraid to see watermelon street vendor who is blocking, shouting and bothering at me.
There has been a headwind all day that I can’t cycle faster. At late afternoon I find some abandoned hospital. Does it still work or not?
Around abandoned hospital, there is a small village police station that I set up my tent at there. Although there are many starts in the night, I can’t take picture because I am still sick and tired.
13th Nov 2013
My tonsil gets better, but it causes catching cold. It is harder with a headwind. There is some people carrying water with a donkey. Anyway I’ve never seen people carrying water on their head in Sudan.
It is devastated.
Today I can see more watermelon venders that it makes me nervous, because they shout and threaten at me.
Frankly speaking, Sudanese food is not my favorite. Many times I chew stones when I eat bread. It doesn’t feel good. The way to eat it is to dip bread into bean soup with a right hand. The food is called Fuul which is made of stewed brown beans.
I feel so thank that the weather gets much better than first week I came. I can’t imagine cycling here in the summer.
But it is a bit hotter in the daytime anyway that I have a nap while sitting on the chair. When I get out of the store, one guy gives me a small watermelon. I ask how much it is. He doesn’t say or show the number to me, but points at himself. I keep asking how much I have to pay, but he ignores my asking. It seems it is a gift for me. I put it on my handlebar as saying thanking.
I try to cut it with a knife which is for actually a jam. But it works well! Easy!
I didn’t know that I can finish it. The watermelon is much better than water for thirsty, I think. After finishing it, I see more watermelon venders on my way. One vender throws stone at me to get my attention. Although I understand he must sell watermelon to feed their family, it is not good to throw stone at people!
Now everything is sure that there are two nations in the world which throw stone at people. Ethiopian and Sudanese!
It is weird that one guy gives me watermelon for free, although I kept asking how much it is for paying and another guy throws stone at me to sell his watermelon.
Here lovely desert starts. I love the desert with its calm and quiet.
It reminds me of Uyuni which is salt desert in South America. Uyuni is much quieter. Here still it is nosy. People from the car make noise and honk at me and shout at me, which is very annoying thing. I understand they think it will cheer me up. But it is not!! Anyway one thing is sure that here is quieter than city.
The desert is not much beautiful as the mountain or the ocean, but it consist of silence of the earth. That’s why I love the desert.
Thank to information I have, I don’t need to worry about the place to sleep. I arrive in the place I want to sleep on time. I try to buy water. There is no big water, but only 500 ml. One guy says it is 4 pounds (50 cents). Usually 1.5L water is 2.5 pounds (30 cents). Here is too expensive! I go to another guy, and he says it is 3 pounds. The last guy says it is 2 pounds. It seems water of 500ml is 2 pounds for a local people.
Although Sudanese is known for kindness, some of them are like Kenyan-Tanzanian that they cheat foreigner for the price. One foreigner in capital said that although he has lived there many years it is hard, because people always cheat on him. Usually to pay half time of amount from the price the vendor say is right price, he said.
I get a net bed and set up my tent on it. It is embarrassing that I’ve never seen women staying with husbands in cafeterias for three days on my way. Where are women? The venders on cafeterias don’t have wives or their wives must stay at home?
When I was Zanzibar Island of Tanzania, I and Italian woman talked to Muslim man. He said women cannot come into mosque. I asked where women pray. He whispered “HOME is the BEST for WOMEN” as if letting us know a huge secret.
My nose is running that I am still struggling with a cold. But I take the picture of the night sky!
14th Nov 2013
The next day morning, it is an actually real picture of developing country! All over the place, it is full of garbage.
I cycle hardly with a headwind. I am wondering how plants can survive in the desert. Usually I can only cycle 60 km (32 mi) per day these days, because of headwind here. But today I must cycle 80 km (50 mi), because the place I can sleep is far away. Actually other cyclists who come from opposite way can cycle here in three or four days with a backwind. For me it takes two times more.
The dunes are as if pyramids. My average speed for a few days was 7~8 km (5 mi), but I am trying keeping 10 km (6 mi) today. A headwind is really hard thing for cycling.
Camels are like cows that they love to look at me when I pass.
Some people carrying water with a donkey.
The string is connected to a donkey. When a donkey pulls and water comes up.
It looks ruins, but it is actually just abandoned house recently.
A donkey is useful animal here.
A family of a camel
Moving together slowly
There are always water jars. It looks water is abundant here.
I buy a small watermelon which costs only 5 pounds (66 cents).
Have you ever eaten watermelon in the desert? It is good!
The photo for congratulation of 21,000km
A desolate wilderness spreads endlessly.
The more there is a headwind in the late afternoon.
It is the place I must stop and sleep tonight. I expected there is a village, but I misunderstand information. There is no village, but just few cafeterias.
WARNING: THE NEXT PICTURE OF A SPIDER IS HORRIBLE.
It is the best choice to set up tent at the net bed. What is this? Spider of the desert? Scary!
The size is as much as my hand.
15th Nov 2013
I survive another night in the cafeteria where only men are, no women. I don’t feel nervous as much as the first night in the desert now.
It seems people are richer than other country. They have a generator that they can keep water cold and watch TV in the middle of the desert.
It is very interesting that I buy small cold water and when I pour to move to a big bottle, it is just being frozen quickly!
I have a typical Sudanese breakfast. Bread which has stones at the inside and beans. And then a tea!
He asks me to take a picture of him.
It seems they are family living together in the desert.
Isn’t it cow? I can’t believe why here cow is. I’ve never seen people have a cow in the desert here. I guess maybe somebody threw away a sick cow while shipping or its dead is long long long long long time ago?
Amazing to see a life in the desert
There is some problem on the rear tube. It seems liquor which is for protecting from a thorn is leaking on the spot I fixed before. I try to change new patch, but wind is blowing and sand comes together on the glue.
It is much beautiful to see in the naked eye.
Maybe it could look beautiful only to me; because I think it is beautiful?
The sand covers the house. One day the house will be totally covered by dune. Maybe many dunes have mystery at the inside.
The sun is running to hide under the horizon.
The miles information I have is very detailed that I am happy that I don’t need to get nervous for the place to sleep. Finally after 5 days cycling, I come to a junction. From now I will see many villages along the way.
I pitch my tent at a gas station tonight.
16th Nov 2013
There is a mirage all the time. Today there is a strong headwind that it makes me too hard for cycling.
After a junction there are many houses on the road. It is so funny to understand people’s life style. The left is empty and the right side is full of houses and trees. What makes a difference?
It means there is water on the right side! Nile River! Nile River is blessing people!
Around sunset one car is stuck on the sand. I lay down my bicycle and try to help them. Although I am not stronger, I think I can help them a little bit anyway. But it seems it is really hard to get out of the sand. Then small bus stops at us and a few men come and help! Easy to get out!!
It is almost a full moon.
16th Nov 2013
If I take a ferry I can go to an Old Dongola which has ruins, I heard. Yesterday when I arrived, I asked about the direction for a ferry. People said ‘no ferry, but tomorrow 8 am’ and they invited me to their house for sleeping.
When I leave at the morning, they invite me for a tea. I don’t have the time much that I say “no, thank”. Then it looks like they are upset about it. So I sit and drink a cup of tea which they give me. Then they pour another tea when I just finish drinking!
After cups of tea, I rush to Nile River. I am on time, but ferry is not on time. They come after 20 minutes. They ask me 100 pounds ($12) because there are no people who want to take a ferry. I say I heard it is only 10 pounds ($1.2) included bicycle, and I don’t have money. He says then wait people to come for an hour.
I decide to wait one hour. My rear tube is problem again that I just change to new tube and tune up speed gears. After 9:20 am finally I take a ferry. Nile River is so narrow that it takes only three or four minutes to cross. The ferry is big that there is enough space for donkeys, camels, cars, and people together.
There are palm trees. I realize soon that it is a worse place because it is covered by sand all over the place. It is extremely hard to push my bike. I push my bike 1m (3.2ft) and take the rest and push again. My right hand which holds and lifts and pulls my rear rack gets too much pain. It is less than 1 km, but it takes one hour.
The castle is 800 years old. The top is a mosque. There is a police station just before ruins that I try to leave my bicycle, because I don’t want to push my bicycle on the sand anymore. As getting there I notice that I have to pay 50 pounds (6$) for a ticket. I have to wait one hour a guide to come. While I wait, they invite me at breakfast. I eat white beans with bread with hands together. When I have a tea, a guide comes, but he speak English only little.
It was a church. It seems there is a long history between church and mosque here, but my guide couldn’t explain well in English.
Another ruins, church
Wall. I couldn’t go into the castle, because it is locked to protect from collapse.
Nile River is over there.
Nile River is so special gift in the desert! As far, there is only sand.
It is old house for Nubian.
The inside is very simple.
It looks very unique.
The lower on the picture there are white gravels. It is said people were buried over there.
On the way back I see many bones. The guide says this bone is human’s. Isn’t it a camel or donkey? I guess he assume it as human, because bone is too small?
He says it is another church. It doesn’t look much different from the abandoned house which I’ve seen on my way during cycling beside the highway.
I have pain with my right palm that I am about to ask for getting a ride from a police station to wharf, which is 1 km to avoid sand road. But when I come back, there is no police car. I ask when a car comes back. Of course, it is not possible to have a communication with Sudanese well. They say “Wait”. So I wait, then a wagon comes. Wow…….
It is said that a ferry comes every hour. But it looks it depends on how many passengers are waiting.
It is 3 pm when I get into highway again. I thought my tour will be finished in the morning and I can cycle after 12 pm. But Africa time didn’t follow my expectation, of course. I only cycle 25km (15 mi) at the afternoon. There are many villages that I don’t need to sleep at cafeteria anymore that I sleep at the people’s house.
18th Nov 2013
The water jar has been seen more often, because I think the villages are close to each other.
Today a headwind is too strong!!
My poor food in Sudan. Actually Sudanese women are very tall ever!! I think the average height of Sudanese women is the tallest in the world, I guess. Many of them are really robust. Maybe because of beans?
Water which I can’t drink is everywhere. If I have a strong intestine, I could have drunk water. I spend much money on buying water in Africa.
Dune is gone and here is now gravel sand.
A headwind is so strong that my nose is running all day. I set up my tent at a very small village. When I come into a small house, it seems all of people in the village come to me to greet. Every time it is surprising to see tall Sudanese women.
They invite me into dinner and give me coffee.
I drink too much coffee that I can’t sleep well.
Usually a small village is very quiet in the night. But here is weird that it is very noisy. I can’t understand.
I can’t sleep easily. Around 12 am I wake up and I realize my body gets sick. I try not to vomit. I try to sleep again. But …….. it.. is not possible…
I couldn’t sleep again.. but I vomit.. and vomit.. and have diarrhea.
Oh… why… I am sick here….
People often ask me what I do if I am sick.
I answer “If I am sick, then I suffer from sickness. Nothing to do.”
After stomach gets empty, I brush my teeth again and go to bed at 2 am. My body gets better than before. Now village is quieter that I fall asleep deeply.
19th Nov 2013
I wake up before 6 am to start cycling again. When I am ready to leave at 7 am, a lady wants to invite me to tea. But my body is not ready to have something that I say “no, thank”.
Usually other third country people start morning earlier like around 6 am, but Sudanese morning is late around 7 am. I don’t know why.
Oasis on the road
When I close eyes because of painful body, I see Korean food such as Kimchi or Korean noodle or Korean Duggbokggi, or Sundae etc. I must open my eyes to keep going.
I must cycle 40 km (25 mi) more today, and then I can take the rest. At the noon I arrive. My body is still bad condition that it was hard to cycle.
I usually don’t go to the bed at daytime but today is exception. I fall asleep at 3pm and wake up at 9pm. Actually if I am sick at home, the way I did is to sleep all day. But I don’t have comfortable place I can sleep if I am sick while traveling.
Anyway after 9 days cycling in the desert, I arrive in a big town, Dongola. After taking some rest days, I have to cycle in the desert again on the way to Egyptian border.
By the way, these days I can’t stop thinking of how I have to make a plan for Europe. I will leave Africa on January, because I can get only one month visa for Egypt. It means I have to go to the Northern Hemisphere in the winter. I’ve never cycled in the winter and I don’t have any gear for winter. Another problem is I can stay ONLY three months in Europe Union Country because of too short period of EUC visa. I want to see Aurora again which I saw in Canada. I will go to Turkey first and try to cycle to the Northern Europe. It will be a big challenging and there will be very complicating for many things about cycling in Northern Europe in the winter. Anyway I will consider more about it for now.