This is the first time I have ever been to the Sudan. It seems a buttoned down kind of place, friendly but not overly expressive. Law abiding but gun toting with a history of conflict. It is a strict Muslim country. It has a dormant oil-based economy with typical African sings of international commerce – big shiny office buildings, good hotels, pockets of western affluence and shops. Our experience here was good. But foreign workers can’t travel outside of Khartoum without a permit. It feels like a country in purgatory – paying penance, keeping its head down, trying to do better than natural inclination would normally allow, in order to get somewhere else.
The bike has performed better than I have. It has been sturdy and reliable. I have kept the drive chain clean and lubricated and had the gears, brakes and wheels checked frequently. The Schwalbe Marathon tires have been great. After almost 3000km I have not had a flat. In Khartoum the crank seemed a bit loose and I thought the bearings in the bottom bracket might be gone. The mechanic tightened everything up and it seemed ok (five days later the same symptom appeared, the bottom bracket was gone and had to be replaced). The one disappointment is the seat post bag. The seat post cantilever attachment broke the first day off-road. So I had to remove it and borrow a small backpack to carry my essential spares and other stuff. It was an expensive Topeak post bag but not worth the money. Live and learn.
Guts are good. I am a bit run down but recovering adequately. I am learning to hydrate better and feeling better for it. I have started taking Larium. No problem. I have cuts and scratches from the fall in the sharp gravel but nothing serious. Many people have fallen. Many have more serious cuts, scrapes and bruises. OK so far.
Still there. Still excited – but tempered by the reality of it. Lots of time to think while you ride. I have been reading a lot to relax and divert the mind. I usually read murder mysteries on my kindle for an hour or two before I go to sleep. Have gotten through quite a few. Probably focusing too much on the ride and not enough on the countries and cultures we are riding through.