Thursday, January 30, 2014

Abysinnia Days

We bid farewell to the Sudan at the dusty, hot town of Qadabbit which leads to a bridge that symbolically marks the transition to Ethiopia. It was a long day on the saddle: 166 kms. Some opted to take the lunch truck to lunch and pedal the latter part. We all had to submit our passports at the small structure on the Sudanese side. Paperwork was filled out confirming our stay in Sudan and then we pushed our bikes to the Ethiopian custom house where we were photographed and fingerprinted by scanner. 

Immediately, one can feel a difference in the people, the land and the culture. The African tri-colour theme is dominant in the contemporary clothing. Coffee and beer are on offer. More English is spoken in addition to the national tongue of Amharic. Children abound in a nation that is bursting under a population growth that is staggering. 

Wherever the tour stops, a posse of young entrepreneurs set up a cold drink emporium adjacent to the camp. It is a quick, thriving trade for a group of thirsty, depleted riders. Given our appearance, we draw a crowd of onlookers who are content to gawk at sweaty westerners sitting under the shade of a tarp. 

These kids are reputed to throw stones at cyclists for no apparent reason. While some riders have copped a few projectiles, the intent of the children does not seem to be malicious. Some speculate that the village kids grow up with livestock who are herded by tossing pebbles or by prodding with branches and the dirt-throwing is an extension of that practise. For the most part, they simply want to engage. They will shout "You! You! You!" and ask "Where are you go?"

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