Leaving Khartoum was very difficult , it was so nice being in Peters home and out of the daily routine of pack and travel . I spent 5 nights being treated like royalty , nothing was to much and between Peters generosity , great sense of humour , Amira’s warm heart and hospitality , I left under a cloud of sadness like I had not experienced on the trip to date . Always saying goodbye does put in perspective the transient state of life while on the road . I will hold my time in Khartoum close to my heart , for my heart was touched by two wonderful people who’s memory I do not want to let fade . Thank you once again my friends Peter and Amira .
The ride out of Khartoum was very busy and it took a good hour and a half to clear the city limits and find the open road , and my word was it to become the open road . The road soon finds the desert in all its wonder , vast , so very vast with the variation in landscape not being the vegetation but just differing colours of the sand as you ride .
As you ride deeper and deeper into the desert so her heat robs you of your strength , the powerful hot wind erodes your resolve , all the while the temperature rises . As the morning was lost to the fireball above I had to start wrapping up , I pulled my jacket zipper to the top , gloves pulled high , jacket sleeves pulled down and tied , buff pulled over my head and helmet sealed , this was cooler than allowing the hot air in . You ride in a sauna , sweat mists the visor , burns your eyes and the helmet sucks down on your head . I could not believe the heat , never mind the wind that comes howling at you , catching Vic and I off guard , just to frighten the living daylights out of us and forcing me to attention .
The ride was very tiring , I found myself stopping for fuel more often then usual as Victoria’s consumption had gone through the roof . The head wind was so powerful that I was battling to get 150 km to a tank . It was so hot that when we stopped to re fuel I could not touch any part of the scooter without wearing gloves , the body work was ticking , every part exposed to the sun was cooked , hard to believe but the searing truth. The ride took the entire day to cover the 525 kilometres and was I glad to finally arrive in Dongola .
The guest house I had chosen , was no longer so I rode around for a while then managed to find an hotel. Hotel Ola , I think that is what it is called , my Arabic really needs improving in every aspect . I booked in showered and took off to find dinner and the town. The Sudanese people are the most hospitable , I have ever met , they come and introduce themselves , I met families just while strolling the streets , I was offered food , tea on so many occasions I lost count , just incredible . It is so hard to comprehend , yet when here it seems so natural .
I found a great restaurant , with a menu that was in Arabic , so how I ended up with a really tasty chicken pizza is beyond me , then back to the hotel , for an early night . I wanted to try and get to Wadi Halfa before the big heat hit us , so it was to be a first light ride.
The ride up to Wadi Halfa was a visual feast , the road runs along the Nile for the better part of the ride and as it snakes so you ride next to the beautiful lush green of the Nile , then find yourself thrown into the harsh desert with nothing but black rock dusted with light pink sand or a beautiful jade green field of stone to your side , then back to palm trees and green. Yet all the while your nostrils are filled with the smell of the desert sand.
The ride up to Wadi Halfa was only around 420 kilometres on a fantastic road , but the wind came back to haunt our ride , you try and make yourself as small as possible , you would think a guy on a Vespa deep in the Sahara would be small , not us , she found us , followed us and beat us , with a little more aggression than the day before . Consumption was worse due to the wind , and I feared my neck might develop a power lifter look and feel , that been said the desert is intoxicating .
The road until about a 120 kilometres from Wadi does show signs of life as well as proof of life , then you find yourself deep in the Sahara with nothing but space , sand and sun , not a spot of shade , nothing , no movement but the wind , no life except that of yours which starts to feel very vulnerable and you have to catch your mind from wondering to far , just 80 km to , just 60 km to go and so you count them down until you your wheels find a safe place for the night .
I arrived in Wadi to be met by Mazaar who is assisting me with the paperwork in getting Vic and I out of Sudan , on to the ferry and in to Egypt . I was so dehydrated by the heat that I stopped at the first shop I saw and downed two Fanta’s in very quick succession . What really shocks me is that I never drink the fizzy stuff but up here I would kill for them , I think the last time I had a Fanta , before arriving in the North was over 20 years ago At that moment in time the ice cold one had a similar feeling to winning the lotto I would imagine . Putting life in perspective .
I am all settled in my hotel and enjoying the sounds of Arabic tunes as they blast from the restaurant kitchen , while I sip on sweet tea and meet and greet all those who happen by . The tea has cooled me down and washed the desert from body and mind , but the last two days of riding will be with me for a long while , they exhausted me , put fear into me , let my mind run free, both to the beauty and the bad , the heat literally took my breath away , the wind my sanity , I hated every second while mother nature beat me , yet in the photographs I find a beauty and peace that wash the bad away and replace it with something different , a sense of wonder at this vast , magical and harsh place they call the Sahara.
So fed , rested , I feel ready to take on the 18 hour ferry ride that will start some time tomorrow in the afternoon , we set sail for Aswan and our 10th country we shall enter on Wednesday as we make our way to Italy . 18 000 kilometres we have travelled together , today the fourth month on the road takes us into spring in SA , I ordinarily would have my first swim to mark the day , yet here I sit in wonderful sweltering Sudan reflecting on a country made beautiful by its people and harsh by nature .
I will miss this place and will probably regret not spending more time here , but I do know that the heat and wind will take the memories I do have and deform them , so I will have to one day return in the winter to ride the route I planned . Thank you Sudan your people touched me deeply , your kindness unparalled , your beauty harsh and dramatic.
Until we meet again.