(Day 37) Khartoum to Atbarah – 6 May 2011
Distance for the day – 324 km
Odometer – 11 677 km
Hours on the Bike – 03:55
Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 77 327.00
We left Khartoum early this morning, to miss the traffic but were unaware that it was a Public Holiday. The busy city was like a ghost town with hardly anybody around. The ride was cool and it quickly got hotter as the sun rose higher and higher.
There were many trucks and military vehicle convoys on the road that made overtaking a problem. Rufus had a big scare when he was pushed off the road by an oncoming bus that decided to overtake a truck. Stelios once again had problems with his bike shuddering and cutting out at low revolutions. We were stopped a few times by Police Officers who required passports, driver’s licenses or road use papers. It is rather frustrating to get everything out everytime and by now we have learned to be over friendly and always stick out a hand to great the officer. To show any frustration could make things worse.
We stopped at Meroe, which has some famous 3 500-year-old pyramids which still exist here from a time when the Egyptians controlled the Sudan. The pyramids are well-preserved and certainly worth seeing. It is situated close to the main road and we rode camels to the Pyramids and back. It was a new experience and we enjoyed the scenery.
We reached the town of Atbarah just before lunch. Atbarah is located at the junction of the Nile and Atbarah rivers. It is an important railway junction and railroad manufacturing centre and most employment in Atbarah is related to the rail lines. The city also is home to one of Sudan’s largest cement factories (Atbara Cement Corporation). Perhaps because of the influence of the railway unions, Atbara is also considered by many to be the home of Sudanese communism.
We spent the afternoon hiding from the heat and Stelios took his bike to a street bike-mechanic. He later called Rufus and Richard to come and help save his bike, because the “mechanic” clearly did not know what was wrong with it. He was quick to dismantle everything but when it came to assembling it, Stelios realized that he needed help. Rufus then took Stelios’s bike for a test ride through the streets of Atbarah. He got terribly lost in the small alleys, without his GPS. He eventually had to swallow his pride and paid a taxi to escort him to the Nile Hotel, where we stayed. Stelios and Richard thought that Rufus went off to search for some cold beers, which is totally illegal in Sudan and then got worried. Richard then was adamant that he now had to go look for Rufus and after an hour got back to the hotel just to find him writing the blog, with an ice-cold fruit juice in the hand.