Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TdA Rest Days 2 and 3. Tetris Championships.

In Transit to the Sudan. Aswan to Wadi Halfa.

The day started with a 17km bicycle convoy across town, over two dams, to the ferry terminal. Although the boat doesn't set sail until 6:00pm, getting there before noon was critical. It takes that long to load so much cargo and people. These guys must be masters at Tetris. And the way it comes in is absolute mayhem. Boarding and loading of this thing makes India look orderly.

There was bed space for only half of the riders. So, the rest of us had to find space in the public area on the top deck. Space went quickly, with people laying blankets and stacking boxes (of karaoke machines, pots and pans, juicers, remote controls, etc.) in a fortress-like fashion to re-enforce the borders. A bunch of riders came around and we made a circle and dumped all of our groceries in the middle. Kind of like how kids build forts and share candy. And, as it turns out, our 'groceries' included a lot of candy - snickers, nutella, coke, etc.

I had managed to carve out a square about 6 feet by 6 feet that I thought could fit two or three of us in an emergency. But demand for space far exceeded supply. We ended up sleeping six there. It was another tetris-inspired achievement!

For the second night in a row, I awoke in the middle of the night with intense leg discomfort. It feels a bit like the growing pains I had when I was a kid. But it's just in my quads. Maybe my muscles are growing? Like the hulk? Or maybe I'm getting taller?! Or maybe I'm just riding too hard.

The random stuff on this boat is hilarious. The safety equipment (ex. Rescue boats) is bolted to the ship. There was an announcement in the morning 'if anyone has lost a machete, please come and claim it on the captain's deck'.

The paperwork is nuts to get into Sudan. I applied for, paid for and received a visa before coming here. That was $100, a courier to/from ottawa, a sponsorship letter, an application form, and a passport photo. But, registration is necessary upon entering, which requires another form, $65, and another passport photo. And then there is another form that you fill out on the ship. And then there are another two more forms that you fill out before you get off he ship. I'm not even joking. And then they check your bags. And then you have to hand in your passport. I'm not sure where mine is exactly, right now. But neither does anyone around me.


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