Tuesday, 30 November 2010
Foot like a stone
The jolly driver waving
A routine recognition check
Comforting successions of smiles,
Laughter, Hindi rythem sways
More people follow
Police dont Holla
Check point clear
A proud photo
Near ditch off road
Mirrors joshling decoration
Straight down alleys
Bumps take the wheel
Sand controlling angles
Not on purpose rolling
Thank the man, Salaam.
Monday, 29 November 2010
As every item, printer is moved on board
7 hours after arrival
Boarding sitting, waiting
We finally move
The land fading as my mind raring rushing
The midnight scenes
Water, mountains, blocks
Wishing away to the next stage
The lights dimming into one
A country complete
A culture shock
As we disembarked the boat entering Sudan, we cycled straight past the first and only town for the next 180km! Wadi Halfa was a very small town where we stopped to collect our water storage for the next few days. There were already some obvious comforting changes
We bought fruit at honest prices, no bartaring
- We ate lunch in peace, people who came up to you wanted to shake your hand rather than shout in your face!!
- As we got the bikes ready the locals exaggerated the need for water making us drink numerous full cups of water
Sudan has been a breath of fresh air after Egypt. The heat has been a challenge but the sceneries and quiet peaceful camping spots have been a dream. There are hardly any animals that can live and survive in the Sahara Desert. You can hear the harmless dung beetle swivle in the sand when you drop off to sleep under the blanket of clear night African stars. You can sleep and rest well until the sun rises and you are set for another day.
I completed my first 1000km as I cycled into the remote desert. The tarmacked road from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum was completed last year so was a dream to cycle on. There are storm drains which are perfectly designed for cyclists breaks - the only shade we could find!
The mountains in the distance compete with the neverending horizon of layered sand.
The highest temperature we calculated was midday - 48 degrees celcius / 21 percent humidity. I must curse the strict islamic country, Sudan for making me cover up while cycling in the veracious heat. I really do hope they appreciate my level of respect wearing trousers and a t shirt to cycle the Desert. The night temperatures do drop to a scorching 25 degrees celcius! This is winter; do not cycle in Sudan in the summer.
Thank god for the wind - I do not thank god for the flies! The strong prevailing southerly wind has pushed me up slopes and along at speed making things more exciting in the heat! When the wind is coming from the side you are also very grateful; the natural ventilation tackled my sweat and made it dissappear into salt molecule stains on my t-shirt.
It was spectacular to once again come across the Nile feeding dotted villages and trees after 2 days of cycling. It is an outstanding sight to come across a river 3 times the size of the Thames in one of the most arid dry places in the world.
Eid is Islamic Christmas. All families join together for four days for the religious ritual, to eat. They kill 1 lamb or 4 if you have a big family and the resources! People have been overly generous, we were continually invited to join family meals or for tea on the road or once we stopped in Dongola.
Steves irriplacible Rohloff Hub snapped which was turmoil considering we were cycling another 10000km to Cape Town (and Steve another 4 continents!) let alone the 80km stretch to the nearest town with a broken spoke. Dongola is the next relatively big town inbetween Wadi Halfa and Khartoum so we were very lucky to be so close. In Dongola we met a lovely Korean family who took us under their wing.
Despite the poor infrastructure and development the views I have heard from a traveller that came up from the South is that they are all wanting independence. The North would like to stay as one country to share the profits of the Southern oil reserves. Unfortunately the islamic North government officials have threatened the South saying if the countries are separated there will be war.
It is time for the next country; a change, another adventure to keep me on my toes. After so many thoughts as to why I am here I have figured out that it is the unexpected makes me feel alive.
Sunday, 7 November 2010
Just look around
The lush fruitful
Corn, sugar cane
Fields rolling sectors, colours, no rain
Wild evergrowing trees, leaves
All finely nurtured specific to the furlong
Hard hands, dirt
The heat fuels the nutrients
Burnt to reimberse, ressurrect
The land turnsover
The cycle continues
Feed the villagers, family, you
Watching hard days go by
Flying, passing, neverlasting
I am free
My feet will carry me
I hope they feel free
Their hands keep safe the seed
Vernacular architecture is a term used to categorise methods of construction which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs and circumstances. / Wikipedia.
I believe local materials, traditions and techniques are important. I am cycling through Africa to understand the life, culture and dedication these people make to their built environment. It is important to look at these roots as they live off the land. This architecture has been adapted to their needs and has been through the test of time.
- Straw / mud brick houses
- Circular manure straw discs
- Long vertical stalks of plant tied
- Stone houses with circular vaults
- Layers of palm tree leaves tied
Thursday, 4 November 2010
All complications with directions visas and general culture in the big city have now minimalised to;
Sleep - Le
Tea - Che
Falafel - Falafel
Sun - Champs (and you immediately point and sit in the shade)
Journey - Cairo a la Aswan
English - Ingleterra
It is truly amazing how far you can get with these phrases. I now highly appreciate the game charades played every Christmas. It works wonders communicating with the rest of the world.
Having been let loose into a different culture, where head scarfs are worn to fit in, each with their own story and origin; I have added a few dreadlocks to my barnet. I can now join the crazy roads and routes down Africa.
I can definitely say these last few days cycling have allowed me to see the real people and countryside.
The roads were surprisingly smooth with extraordinary views and movements. People in the small villages are highly energetic constantly waving, shouting and honking their horns. Everyone is so excited to see you. After a while you really appreciate being on a bike so you can just speed past to an area of farmland; peace and quiet.
Teenagers slanted out of their tuck tucks (like UK kids on their scooters) took photos of me from the side. People travel on donkeys, camels or vehicles transporting goods, vegetables and livestock. Yes that is a donkey and camel in the back of a truck.
People live off their farmland exchanging goods and food along the main road making sure they have enough supplies for the family.
Fellow travelers are very friendly. I was given gifts on the side of the road just saying good morning in Arabic. A farmer gave me some spring onions and cucumbers. People are very proud of their crops.
The many species of birds were a huge attraction. I felt like I was cycling through a David Attenborough programme and soon figured out how difficult it was to capture the moment on camera. I have only got one photo as of yet!
Steve has exploded to poll on the punctures front. In these last few days he has had 7 punctures. The crowds gather very quickly and fixing the problem turns into a communal sport, everyone wants to help.
There was only 1 real problem out of 7 where a kid stole the cat eye - speedometer. We were very thankful the police miraculously appeared and with Steve going mad and explaining how useless it was to the group of kids in hand gestures it miraculously appeared.
Camping has been very interesting. I definitely did not appreciate our first night in the tents. We were left in peace with a stream to wash and food in the nearby town.
Later on around 11pm we were woken by a gang of teenagers. They were asking for money and while Steve and I had all eyes on the front of the tent they managed to steal a pannier full of clothes from the back. Steve now fully clothed went mad collecting the inexpensive items and throwing them back in the tent. They were disappointed it wasn't money so constantly surrounded the tent intimidating us to give them money. It was hard enough not understanding the language, we were helpless. Steve calmly told me to put my clothes on and I passed him the CS gas as instructed. After an hour of hassling I ran with all my might to the main road. It was hard to explain the situation, what is a cry for help in sign language? My wavering voice must have got them thinking as they reluctantly came over to the tent. These two guys from the road were generally the same age which did not help, but the rascals went away for a small amount of time. They all managed to slyly walk back to a near bush once the two guys had gone. We could here them whispering plotting their next moves. Steve and I spoke about all situations possible and highlighted the fact that teenagers respected their elders.
All hopes restored
They left us in peace for dinner then built us a fire near our stable and brought their self sufficient substances - buffalo cheese, eggs and buffalo milk with bread. The 3 men slept around our stable and placed the donkey by the side. I never felt so safe and slept well. Sunrise was beautiful that morning I appreciated it by the fire for breakfast with them all before getting back on the bike.
- sleep in riding breaks knowing the bike and belongings are being guarded
- buy 2 bananas simply for the right price instead of being forced 2 kilos of bananas - the police tend to shout at them then hand them my petty change
- can ride until dusk knowing police lights will cause enough attention to remove the risk of crashes
- have good cheap hostel/hotel knowledge
- get escorted to the hotel at the end of the day when you are tired and need a bed
- get water and food from any village as the police translate and give orders to the people
- the excitement on the road dies down
- when involving yourself with the villagers, taking photos... the final stages always end with a massive walloping - police authority is savage!
- they are not very patient with breaks
We have arrived in Aswan. I have completed my first 1000km of my trip 1/12. This is a small stepping stone for what is to come. Sudan is next; the biggest country in Africa. I am looking forward to the next hurdle; it'll be a definite change of scenery as I am about to enter the Sahara Desert.
Justification need not be said
No money, a threat
Not only to realise
Cannot understand our disencouragement to bet their life away
Based on tourist opinions, which side they got out of bed
Where is their pride after guys lure you in with misconception
Friendly conversation ending in their shop selling gifts of their nation
Where is trust
How must we continue not prejudge
Yet be wise as so many times
That white mask a symbol no disguise
So obvious get followed looks
There are the exceptions
So few but it fills me with hope
As I know cities overcrowded renowned for crime to get by
So as I enter the sprawl, suburbs, villages
Will the rule be different
Whether it be instant or show who knows?