Day 27, Stage 21, 99km
Start – hilltop camp
Finish – Ethiopia camp
We rode down off the hilltop and onto tarmac. Today we would enter Ethiopia. The tarmac was rough but welcome. Except for the wind, it was almost like a rest day after the off-road sections.
The border crossing turned out to easy. You get tired of reading travel stories about how hard it is to cross borders: the hassles, the time, the red tape, the guns and belligerence. We had none of it. We got our exit stamps from Sudan easily enough – 20 minutes of waiting – crossed the bridge across no man’s land into Ethiopia, took another 20 minutes to get our Ethiopian visas stamped and were in a brothel drinking cold beer within the hour. Not bad, especially since Sudan is dry and none of us had had a beer since January 21 – over two weeks. We had arrived in Ethiopia around noon. Some of the riders had more than one beer and didn’t arrive in camp until dark – muscle relaxant before the hills.
When you enter Ethiopia you notice right away that the population has increased. Sudan is relatively sparsely populated and while people follow you and call out to you, they are mostly friendly and helpful. In Ethiopia you crank up the volume by 10 and don’t assume what they are calling out is benign.
After a beer and changing some money we rode the final few km into camp. We now had to gird our loins for hills. We had been in hills all day today but they were gently rolling foothills. Things were about to change.