Saturday, 6 February 2010


Today, we entered Africa, the Africa I know, with thousands of kids, with women carrying wood and wateron their heads, the Africa of pot holes and dirty road sides, the Africa of acacia trees blooming and colourful birds flying.

Southern Sudan is so different. Soils are now black and clearly highly fertile. There are farms as far as the eye can see, irrigation canals that date back to the English days.And kids, everywhere. The challenge of the day was not so much the 163 km distance, but pot holes and kids. Every town we passed, hundreds of them would flock into the road and run straight at us, trying to touch us or to grab us. We are most likely the biggest piece of entertainment they have ever seen. I even witnessed one busy having his day relief when he saw us and he rushed towards us with his pants half way down as he would not miss us. Most of these kids don't mean anything bad, but the sheer number of them and the excitement we create can turn the situation into something nasty. Crowd behaviour can degenerate very quickly, especially when it is made of uneducated kids. So we had a bit of good and bad as most of them would cheer us, but when some started throwing stones at us, the cheering instantly turns into something that sounds more like a war song... As a cyclist, the best thing to do is get out of there as fast as you can. You feel that you would like to give one or two a correction, but it is simply a matter of numbers. It was actually amazing to witness how a small coke stop that looked pretty empty filled and turned into a crowd in minutes. Another important thing is to ride in groups in such places, especially the female cyclists.

I personally came close to an accident, but not with kids, with a stupid young donkey that had run away! As he came towards me on the road side, I ignored him thinking that he would simply carry on straight, but I should have known better... The stupid animal veered straight in front me and I almost hit the donkey. I was going at a reasonable pace, while he was running as fast as he could, so technically I came today close to the end of my TDA... As they told us, to make it EFI to Cape Town will take a lot of pain, sweat, willingness and will require some luck as well. Oh boy... I was lucky today... The funny thing is that I managed to capture the animal as I was busy taking a photo when he appeared, so the picture is taken a second and a half before he almost hit me...

Today we also changed the tyres to off road as we are leaving tarmac tomorrow. Needless to say that camp was busy with tyre levers, pumps and hungry riders who were not getting their fat knoblies to fit easily.
                                             Sudanese women along an irrigation canal
                                            We have left camel country fro cattle country
                                          A truck had just overturned, hardly surprising given
                                          the way they drive here...
                                           The truck was loaded with sugar (driver survived)
                            This is the kind of road we have been riding on since we left Khartoum
                            2 days ago. You need to be so careful with destroyed road shoulders
                            and the enormous pot holes everywhere.
                   Along the road we came along this little shed who sold "NOKA" phones... he he...
                            Now, watch this stupid runaway donkey... I came close to finishing my
                            Tour D Afrique today as he took a fat 90 degrees turns right in front of
                            me and I came a few centimeters close to a collision... with a donkey...
                            Come on! Let's not be ridiculous here..
                                  This is the modern generation of Sudanese. They came to meet
                                  us at camp tonight. They are equipped with Nokia cell phones
                                  and are taking pictures of us...
                                                                        Adam and Sam
                              Lots of activity around our camp. Women carrying wood passing by.
                                     We are now leaving tarmac and will start dirt tomorrow,
                                     so the tyres need to be changed to off road
                                  We stopped in a little town, but so many kids rushed in from all
                                  over that the situation became out of control and we had to leave...

                              Along the road, kids rush to touch us as we are probably the biggest
                              entertainment they have ever witnessed, but is dangerous for us,
                              as most of them have no idea about keeping any kind of safety distance...
                              Some try to grab us by the arm or worst to grab our bicycles....

1 comment:

Rainer & Claudia said...

Hi Gerald,
we are looking forward every day for new entries on your blog. The way you write about your impressions and your very empathetic way of taking pictures brings us to TDA as close as possible. Best pictures of the TDA we found so far.
Take care, enjoy the ride and please say greetings to Gisi from Rainer & Claudia from Munich.