Wednesday, February 9, 2011

TdA Stage 21. Beer and Brothels.

96km. Doka Bush Camp to Matema Parking Lot Camp.

Great ride today. Back on pavement and 90kms to the border. I rode mostly with Jorg and we celebrated the smooth, fast progress that we could make on the tarmac. It felt so good to let the legs burn. And the heat is a lot less stifling when you can generate a breeze by going more than 10km/hr.

There is a dutch dude (Robert Knol) riding Cairo to Capetown solo right now; aiming to do it in under 80 days, which would be a world record. He left Cairo on January 24th and is somewhere close to us now. I kept expecting that we might see him today, but no luck, yet. Maybe tomorrow.

I had only one flat before the border. Possibly as a result of a thorn from another day working its way through. There were no clues. I was hoping that would be the end of it, but I got two more flats just in the area between customs and immigration. I have a feeling this might plague me until I wise up and switch to a new set of tires.

Entering Ethiopia was a process in itself. Visible differences include the abundance of commerce, the availability of beer, and the fact that the women wear braids, not burqas. The immigration officers process everything manually and seem to have a first-in-last-out policy, which meant that those of us who hustled to the border early to 'beat the rush' ended up with the longest wait times. Fortunately, we are back in the land of beer, so hanging out and waiting on a sunny day like this was actually rather fun.

After reaching camp and realizing that it was little more than a hot, dusty roadside parking lot with a few locals selling overpriced beer, four of us headed back to Matema in search of cheaper, colder beer. What we found turned out to be a gay bar, if the enthusiastic local with the camera was any indication. He asked to get a picture of and with each of the guys and was full of compliments. His eagerness became a little much and the guys eventually asked the local to leave (Bas's comment 'if you *really* want EFI, it's going to hurt' might have been lost on him, but I think that he got the point).

We ordered some 'food' and got what might be the Ethiopian version of nachos. Bright orange cheese-like sauce with chilis, poured over something that simultaneously resembled pancakes and skin. Oh, and, no utensils or napkins. Welcome to Ethiopia; start the countdown to getting ill.

It occurred to us that a shower might also be possible in the town. Hey, if we could buy a tank of water on a donkey in the desert to get a shower, surely we could find a way to clean ourselves in this little border town.

Our bartender walked us over to a nearby brothel that had two private stalls, each with a bucket of water in the corner and a hole in the middle. I think that might also have been the toilet. Whatever, it felt great to 'shower' after a ride in the heat.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tori ! I'm curious how your ride went today (10 Feb). Robert had quite a few tough days as well; after Wad Madani he did 2 days of 175 km each day. Today he had a very bad day. Last thing we heard from him was early this afternoon: he reached Metema but isn't feeling so fresh at the moment, probably "Khartoum belly". I think he will be staying in Metema for the night. But thanks for looking out for him. Really hope he will feel better tomorrow and can catch up with you guys in the next few days.You must be so relieved to have a rest in Gondar on Saturday! Good luck for tomorrow ! Mirjam

February 10, 2011 at 9:46:00 AM MST  

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