Saturday, April 23, 2011

TdA Stage 78. The Wettest Desert.

207km. Ghanzi to Namibian Border.
The rain started about one kilometre into the ride. This wasn't the sort of whether that I expected to encounter while crossing the Kalahari Desert.
We quickly formed one of the largest pack of cyclists that we've had so far on this trip. It was fun to be part of such a group, but I couldn't help but worry a bit about safety. So, I broke away from the pack with a few friends.
We were making good work of the day and eventually rode into the sun. That lasted all of 15 minutes. From quite a distance, we could see the next storm coming at us. A horizon of black clouds and, combined with a menacing headwind. We pedalled on and watched the sky get darker and darker until the road ahead of us became blurry with the splash of rain. With nothing but agricultural land surrounding us, our best option was to just hammer through it as best we could. The wind was strong enough to make your skin hurt when the rain touched it. Our speed slowed to a crawl and it felt like the downfall would last forever.
Eventually, the sun came out again before long we could laugh about it. Crossing the border, I caught a glimpse of a newspaper headline 'Namibia Under Water'. I guess this is a taste of what is ahead for us. Or at least for most of us. Our sole rider from Trinidad and Tobago was turned away at the border on a visa issue (despite his prior communication and preparation for the visa). It is a real shame, too, as this guy was EFI and had effectively made it through the real tough parts of the trip. To lose EFI in this way seems so tragic.
Tonight we are staying at a place called East Site Camp. The owners have cleverly used a cross in place of the T's in the name. In the restaurant, there are little cue cards on the table with quotes from the bible. Even when we stayed at the convent in Marsabit, I didn't feel so surrounded by religion.
I decided long before arriving here that I would take a room if they still had one. They did. The room is a 100 square foot shelter with two beds on a concrete slab. Good enough for me; it beats pitching a tent on mud. And, the rain has now started again. I am so happy to be inside!


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