Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Day 93: al Qadarif to Gonder Ethiopia, a border crossing. 351km 21°-40.5° 8hours

Milky tea for breakfast
Packing up the bike in the secure guarded hotel car park.
Donkeys and cars with water tanks are a feature of our ride today.
We find a petrol station with some  'gasolini'.
Beautiful girls selling brooms - but very shy.
The road east is sealed with  a few potholes, big potholes...
that I soon manage better by standing on the pegs or at least putting my weight onto the pegs.  
My ribs say thank you.

There are fewer people in the part of Sudan. We are well away from the Nile. Water is scarce.
We ride through some poor cropping land into desert and pastoral areas where the houses are round and thatched.

Sudan has a population of circa 41million. The population loss is around 130,000 each year.

Sudan became a republic in 1956 since then its post colonial history has been plagued by civil war culminating in the secession of South Sudan in 2011 and the war in Darfur to the east 2003-2010. 
In 1898 lord Kitchener was sent to Sudan and Sudan was proclaimed a condominium in 1899 under British-Egyptian administration. The British provided the administration of  north and South Sudan as separate units until 1955.  
Islam was discouraged by the British in the south and Christian missionaries were permitted to work there and English was the main language. In the north Arabic is the main language and after independence the English speaking southerners were excluded from government bureaucracies- of over 800 local appointments only four were given to southerners.

Sudan was predominantly Christian until the arrival of Islam in the 7th and 8th century. The mainly Nubian Coptic orthodox Christians were forced in the 19th century to convert to Islam. Arabic is the main language and the 97% of the populations is Moslem the majority are Sunni. 1.5% Christian (Coptic Orthodox) and 1.5% traditional African religions.

We felt safe and very welcome in Sudan.

Ethiopia is the first Christian country we have visited for several months. 
The border crossing goes quite easily with a little help.
The road is sealed and we ride through mountainous terrain. 
Small cropping areas are dotted all over the mountains.

People are walking. Walking with animals, walking with water jerry cans.
We discover that there are very few bicycles and vehicles on the road.
But we need to look out for people and stock all along the road to Gonder.

Thorn tree at one of our roadside stops.

Immigration on the Sudan border. Who would have guessed?
A helper appears. He exchanges our Sudanese pounds for Ethiopian Birr and directs us to customs. Easy border crossing.

Ali (Sudanese helper) and Dawid (Ethiopian border fixer). They both know Mazar who helped us at wadi halfa.
They showed us where to have lunch after we had completed the Ethiopian formalities.
We had goat nibs. Finely chopped berebere spiced goat meat served in a blanket of injera a steamed bread made from a fermented pouring dough of a fine grain - tef a fine.

Cattle on the move.
Everyone is on foot in this part of Ethiopia.
We encountered people along the 200km ride to Gonder.
Often leading goats or cattle, or carrying water.

Children playing.
The cattle market.

Spectacular scenery. We are riding at 2000m+ (6000'+) most of the time.

Extensive crops. It is almost harvest time. Some people are on me age rations because the harvest last year was not good and food supplies have run out.

Home for the night. Lodge du Chateau in. Gonder.
Thank you Reja for your welcome and many kindnesses. Some of the team washed Orlanda. Some one polished our boots. There were kind angels at this place.

Our first Ethiopian lunch of goat Tibs being prepared.  
Meat chopped finely, lightly fried, a green herb mix with berebere and other mysterious ingredients is squirted on top and some water added and the mix simmered for about five minutes.
The goat tibs with green onion and hot green pepper is served over injera a steamed thin bred made from slightly fermented tef flour. 
Eaten with our hands - take some injera and wrap it around to meat. Spicy.
Our cook turns her hand to crochet.

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