Under scorching sun

March 18, 2012 (day 305) Sudan

It was not so easy to leave cozy house and head again into arid lands. From Khartoum I followed the Blue Nile, and soon the first traces of well-developed agriculture appeared. Finally I could camp under a tree. It was acacia, but a big one, hiding me well from the sight of bypassers.

Finally a camping under trees!

Finally a camping under trees!

The road was not of comfortable kind, though. Not without a reason the part to Wad Medani is being called “road of death”. Narrow asphalt crowded by heavy and speeding traffic. Again, the bus drivers were the most crazy ones. Their brand new vehicles, all made in China, were just too fast and too silent. And they almost never used their horns, not to mention slowing down a bit. Few times I noticed that a bus had been approaching me just by a sudden change of the air pressure. Fortunately, there were two dirt lanes accompanying the road for the most of the distance. Sometimes I used them, even though the rough surface slowed me down, just to save me the stress of coping with the traffic.

Chai-mama helps to survive the heat

Chai-mama helps to survive the heat

My late arrival to Sudan was reflected by bad weather. Cycling in the early afternoon was barely possible. On the first day I had drunk 5 liters of water and ate a medium-sized watermelon before I felt rehydrated. During the next days I just gave up counting. That was just too much.

On the second day I arrived to quite densely populated area in the late afternoon. A town turned into a chain of villages, and trying to get out of there in the dark, I stumbled upon a man on a donkey cart. He was a shopkeeper and suggested me to ask for a place at the nearby mosque. As a result, I spent the night at a Qur’anic school, meeting with real talibs. A teacher, being the only person who spoke English, arranged a bed for me and we slept in the backyard, outside the house which was still hot like an oven.

Real talibs

Real talibs

The education includes mathematics, science and some other useful things, but as my host explained, the most important is memorization of the Qur’an. The book contains all the answers to all the questions, so it’s not strange that in Sudan there are more religious schools than rubbish bins.

There is only one trashcan: Sudan. Everything just gets thrown away and the wind takes care of the discarded stuff. While the waste was all natural, throwing it just behind the fence was nothing bad. The heat of the desert quickly dried everything, leaving no risk of diseases or even bad smell being spread. The coming of plastic and the new kind of rubbish changed everything but the old customs, which apparently evolve much slower than the technology. No wonder that the road often led through fields full of plastic bags and bottles.

Sudan is rich in foil trees and bushes

Sudan is rich in foil trees and bushes

In Wad Medani I had left the river and headed east. The land was one huge and flat agricultural field. In the last days of the dry season, however, I could not figure out what kind of crop used to be grown there. The more surprising were big herds of cows and goats traversing these areas, usually under a guard of children. I guess that the eternal conflict between farmers and shepherds must be present there.

The huge plain, like an ocean, was dotted by tiny islands of rocky hills. After crossing the second archipelago, I entered area where all the houses had been made of no more than straws and bunch of tree branches. The drinking water became horrible. Dreggy, with brown-grayish color of the ground, it resisted filtering. The taste was not particularly bad, but the look – totally repulsive. I was mixing it with hibiscus tea, just to mask it and make more pleasant to drink, at least visually.

Drinking water, after filtering

Drinking water, after filtering

With a strong side wind I struggled to cross a long stretch of barren land, with no object that could provide any shade. The water was running out quickly and the content of my bottles had become so hot, that it almost burned my mouth. Of course it did not help reducing thirst.

I tried my luck at roadside farm, where the workers hardly believed that anyone could be stupid enough to cross Sudan on a bicycle. They gave me a mug of milk, probably expecting some funny reaction once I try it. How could they know that their visitor was a sour milk lover? Even though hot, it was delicious, and reminded me childhood and the times before UHT spread in Europe.

After two days of forcing myself to drink mud-colored liquid, I reached Gedaref. The town, being just an overgrown village, offered nothing interesting except for a small market. Well, and maybe a crowd of children shouting “hawaia” at the sight of a foreigner. Whether it comes from a badly pronounced “how are you”, I do not know. In my mind it associated with Hawaii and beach, and water! That shout would accompany me until the border.

Sudanese always friendly

Sudanese always friendly

The best surprise, however, awaited after the town. At the first gas station I found clay pots with clean water, and at the second one a friendly worker had looked at me and offered… a shower! That was something wonderful and a quick laundry followed the bath. Then the workers showed me a guest room, where I had a nap before asking for permission to stay overnight.

Since that moment I was going to have a company, for the first time in last five months. Alexander, a German cyclist on his way from Cairo to Cape Town, arrived to Gedaref on the same evening. We had met briefly in Khartoum before and agreed to go through Ethiopia together.

Trying to survive the heat

Trying to survive the heat

After Gedaref the plains were slowly being replaced by gentle hills, and first really big trees appeared. The heat, however, did not get weaker and half of the following day we spent in a drainage tunnel under the road. After camping in the bush we had the last bowl of fuul and soon arrived to the border crossing in Gallabat.

Comments:

mumum
mumum
7 years, 3 months ago
super, że znowu można poczytać co tam u Ciebie się dzieje :)

czekam z niecierpliwością na więcej :)

trzymam kciuki. powodzenia!
mama
mama
7 years, 3 months ago
Kwaśne mleko na gorąco? Muszę spróbować. Zupelnie inna ta Afryka w Twoich opisach niż sobie wyobrażam. A dzikie zwierzęta się już pojawiają?
tranquilo
tranquilo
7 years, 3 months ago
Ta woda wygląda paskudnie, aż odechciewa się pić na sam widok.
Powodzenia i przejrzystej wody rzyczę :)