Day 45, stage 35, 96km
Start, Arba Minch, Swayne’s Hotel
Finish, riverbed camp
The day started with a couple of km climb and then a great downhill for several kilometres. We then hit the off road section again d everything ground to a near halt – at least for me. Some people seem to be able to ride the off road sections at good speed. They either have bikes made to specialize on off road or they have asses made of steel. I feel everything and the only way I can build up any speed is by getting out of the saddle and riding standing up. But I can’t do this for too long. And when I sit down again the speed goes down as well.
About fifteen kilometres into the off road section I came across a couple of Land Cruisers stopped at the side of the road and half a dozen white tourists standing in the middle of the roadway. I rung the bell on my bike but they didn’t seem to hear me and didn’t move. They were handing out something to a bunch of kids who had gathered round. Two minutes later they were back in the air-conditioned Land Cruiser with the cool box in the back and speeding off to their next authentic encounter 200km way. I was not best pleased. Closer to the road and the people we have to travel through, we are bombarded with the consequences of this type of tourism, the sense of expectations that all tourists are there simply to give things away, and the aggressive behavior that results when they don’t. A few weeks ago Claire had witn3ssed something even more egregious: a vehicle full of white tourists who didn’t even bother to stop and get out of their vehicle but just chucked candies out the windows and then watched as the poor village kids scrambled and fought for their bit of the bounty.
The final section of the day was a hair raising slide down 10km of steep dirt track to our camp in a dried riverbed at the bottom. It had been along and very tough day. I had taken in about 10mlitres f fluid today and still felt thirsty. People were knackered. But the toughest day was yet to come. Once again I took an ORS.