(Day 39) Merowe to Wadi Halfa – 8 May 2011
Distance for the day – 600 km
Odometer – 12 572 km
Hours on the Bike – 08:00
Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 103 797.00
We had one of our most difficult days today, with a long distance to cover in very challenging conditions. It was hot and very windy. We started early morning at 05:00 from Merowe and travelled the first hour in the dark through the cool dessert air of Sudan. It was perfect and we all were enjoying the ride.
Just before Dongola we had to stop, because Richard had problems with his bike’s chain coming off. We tightened the chain, but knew that it was so badly stretched that it actually needed to be changed. We called in at a filling station a few km’s out of Dongola to refuel. A young man approached us and said that he needed to look at our passports. After inspecting it he instructed us to follow him back to Dongola, because of a problem that he could not explain to us. We entered Dongola and stopped at the marked area. Richard was missing – he got left behind after his chain broke. Rufus went back and left him the toolbox, spare chain and new sprockets to start to work while he went back to try to sort out the passports.
In Dongola it was explained to us that we needed to register because of a National security law and we have entered a new province of Dongola. Rufus reluctantly paid the £100 pounds, that was requested and when he insisted on an invoice and copies of the papers they were filling out, was given back the money and chased out of the office. The whole process was just a waste of time and we could not believe our ears when the same official that chased Rufus out of the office earlier, asked for money to help fill his car?
Richard’s bike was like new with two new sprockets and a chain that Rufus very kindly carried for 12 000 km’s. We were back on the road and now had to deal with a very strong and warm Desert Wind and heat that was now reaching the high 40’s. The road was a new tar-road, though the info on the GPS still indicated off-road or gravel road. We planned to refuel at Abri but no luck, so we pushed on to Akasha. We somehow missed the turnoff and stopped at a little village about 80 km’s short of Wadi Halfa. We were in trouble, because here also, nobody could help us. Best scenario, we could probably just make it, but with the strong head winds, that was predominantly from the front, we were unlikely to make it due to heavier fuel consumptions. We pushed on and Rufus was first to run out of fuel. After a half an hour we stopped a truck and loaded Rufus’ bike and he got on and off they went. Richard and Stelios then continued till the next bike ran out, where they would then wait.
Rufus was back within 1 ½ hours and the threesome were back on the road with 45 km’s to go. We booked in at the Kilopatra Tourism Hotel, which is probably second on the list of the worst stays we had on the trip. We were just too happy to get a bed after a long 8 hour day in the saddle. Tomorrow we will start to get things organized for the Ferry to Aswan. We met a South African Couple, British family and a Zimbabwean, who also booked in to the Hotel. We have now come to learn that we need to register as Aliens, because we do not have the necessary sticker pasted in our passports. This was obviously the problem which the official was going on about in Dongola. When you enter Sudan, you get a stamp in your passport that says that you have to register at the Alien Registration Office as an Alien within 3 days. The question is what now? We would not be able to clear customs out without the necessary sticker. We subsequently met with a fixer, Magdi, who said that he will sort it out for us for a small fee. He went off with our passports last night, so let’s hold thumbs.