February 23, 2000 GMT
Dusty Dirty Duvals in Addis Ababa

Firstly many thanks for everyones well wishes and replies to our Emails. Our trail through the remainder of Sudan was not without mishap and we now can verify that Africa has some of the worst roads to travel on in the world. Travelling east to Gedaref was paved and quite ok. Gedaref , we lost an hour in the morning dealing with a security check and another passport stamp. Khartoum office previously advised that no more was required until Gallabat. (They have a rubber stamp and stamp pad so they must use it.) Late departure meant more riding in the heat.

We covered half of the 160kms to the border to be greeted by another checkpoint and another registration. The heat was stifling and after a brief drink stop we had our first slow spill in the soft sand. The screen broke off , no other problems so we pushed on to Gallabat stopping frequently for drinks and rest.

Approx. 5 kms from Gallabat Carol abandoned the bike on a bad rocky patch. Unfortunately the bike bottomed out on some rocks and down I went putting a small hole in the right rocker cover. No problems as the army turned up on a tractor to assist. Turned the rocker cover upside down, straightened the crash bar with a rock, popped the pannier back into shape..those non-fangos are tough...and we finished the remaining few kms.

We camped outside the security hut that night after an entertaining evening at the souk (markets) in the local village. Sitting on a leather strap bed with 20 to 25 locals bouncing their questions at us in broken English and teaching us the odd Arabic word. Next day we processed our documents quickly and headed into Ethiopia early in an endeavour to beat the heat. 40 Kms over the border at another little village we processed the customs papers for the bike and collected another passport stamp.

Ethiopia here we come. 8 kms down the track a handling problem revealed a flat rear tyre. 11.00am is not a good time to fix a flat tyre. Out with the umbrella and the tube change was done in around 40 mins. On the road again we had only covered around 90kms for the day we called it quits at an unnamed village enroute to Gonder. Camped in a mud hut with the girls working at the cafe/motel (I use the term loosely) giggling at our attempts at sign language and inadequate attempts at the Amharic language. Rested we attacked the next stage to Gonder with gusto and arrived there around midday. A cold shower revived us and cleaned the dust away. Two days/nights were spent sight seeing before we headed to Bahar Dar on Lake Tana. We camped at a rather expensive campsite at a hotel enjoying cold beer, colourful birds, hot showers and rest.

After resting for a day we departed the tranquility of the lake for the dusty roads to Dejen. The Hotel manager gave us an alternate route which proved to be both shorter and with less traffic. Enroute we were overtaken by a Swiss couple in a Pajero 4wd. We had camped near them at Bahar Dar.

Arriving in Dejen we joined forces to combat the throngs of children we attract at all the places we pass or stop at.The novelty of white travellers and the chance of a free handout attracts the crowds. We have travelled with these people to Addis Ababa and we enjoy their company and their youthful exuberance. An approach to the Kenyan Embassy revealed we do not need a visa for a months stay so all being well we will head down towards the lakes area in Ethiopia towards the Kenyan border.

No time can be placed on this journey to Nairobi as the road conditions are so bad. Tyres on the bike are cut badly but still no punctures. Other m/cyclists are experiencing frame breakages and punctures but we are ok so far (touch wood). Our next contact will be from Nairobi all being well where the bike will be in need of some attention. Keep those replies coming .. Regards Carol & Ken.

Posted by Carol Duval at February 23, 2000 01:04 AM GMT

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