Friday, May 29, 2009

Tuesday 26th May to Thursday 28th May

Tuesday 26th - Yesterday was a bad day for me I came down with a bad dose of flu and having too ride through that sandstorm that I spoke about in our last report it took all my concentration and a huge effort of endurance to stay on the bike and reach Khartoum. As soon as we got to Khartoum I pitched my tent in the car park, our home for the next three days. I then put my head down and after taking a huge dose of anti flu tabs, I slept until this morning. When I woke I thankfully felt much better and now, except for a bit of a snotty head I am ready to take on the rest of this journey with the other two guys.

Talking about them. They have been fantastic on this trip. Whenever one of us have had a bad day or feel a bit down, the other two guys then take up the strain and pull you through with either a few words or some or other helping gesture.

Whilst we’ve been camping out in the car park, we had a string of local people passing by to say hello and ask us about our journey. Among them was a group of guys from the local Motorcycle police who wanted to have a look at our bikes, not for anything official, just fellow bikers. Great Hey! When we were chatting to the retired General about the friendly attitude of the people here in Sudan, his reply brought a smile to our faces, He maintains that the people of Sudan do not have to be angry with other people because the weather here does it for them.

Last report I mentioned the planned boat ride on the Nile River. Well at 19:30 pm we were met here in the car park by Mohamed our Pannar connection here in Khartoum and the guy that had arranged the boat ride. The three of us as well as four other over Landers that we had befriended here in the car park and to who the invitation had been extended, were escorted down the Jetty and aboard the barge. On the barge was a carpet laid out with chairs all around for us to sit on plus a table for the drinks. As Sudan is a dry Country the drinks consisted of water, Pepsi and Marinda. There was also lots of ice. Once the boat left the banks and we were motoring gently down the river, we were joined by an old friend “Johnny” and he was happily welcomed into our company.

The boat trip lasted about 3 hours and it was an absolute pleasure gently drifting down the Nile. The water was dead calm with a sickle moon in the sky and the lights of the houses and cars crossing the bridges over the Nile reflecting off the water. I think there was more than one of us on that boat who wished we had our partners there with us to share the moment. Of course Jacque and Mandy two of the over Landers on the boat with us had each other so they were smiling happily.

After about an hour on the water Mohamed pulled out the braai and set the coals alight. I don’t know what starter he used but Howard and I looked a bit startled when the flames leapt so high in the air the canvas roof on the barge had a hole burned right through it, all of this mid stream on a boat with no life raft or fire extinguisher that we could see. Anyway when the flames died down we were still afloat and Mohamed was still smiling and laughing his very happy laugh. He then produced a meal to die for. Lamb cutlets, chicken kebabs and a mince type meat compressed into a sausage shape on a skewer with this amazing garlic dip.

At the end of all this Mohamed then goes and produce Chocolate Swiss Cake as a dessert. Heaven!!! Remembering that for the past few weeks our choices had been rather restricted to camel or goat.

Returning back to land at about 23:30pm we said our good nights and with full bellies put our heads down and went off to sleep. Knowing that early in the morning we would be hearing from our friend the Mullana and his loudspeaker again.

Wednesday - Jaco awoke with great excitement (Kids next Christmas when your dad tells you to calm down on Christmas morning just remind him about today) the reason for the excitement is that his new shock should be arriving in Khartoum. He’ll then at least have a decent ride from here on.

While waiting for the call about the shock we said our good byes to Jacque and Mandy. The two over Landers that have traveled from Australia via Russia now down Africa to Cape Town. These two are ex South African and have been on the road since last year Christmas. Traveled 50 000 Km’s and are still going strong. Well done guys see you in SA for that sheep on the spit. I think Jacque and Jaco were quite pleased to once again be able to talk to some one in Afrikaans again. “Mandy, sorry about telling Jacque about our one week Afrikaans one week English rule we have. Guess you either have to put your foot down or your Afrikaans will be improving from here on down. Go well and Salem Allecum.”

After they had left we caught a taxi to town to try and track Jaco’s shock down. We had been given an address and tracking number. The first place we went to knew nothing about the shock and referred us to the next place. There we got the same response. After trying four different courier agencies we were once again back where we started. We were desperately trying to negotiate and make ourselves understood to the lady at the front desk when a knowledgeable looking fellow came through from an office in the back. After we explained our predicament to him he excused himself for a few minutes. When he returned he tells us he has found the shock. It is in Dubai !!! Great! That is as much use to Jaco as if it was on the fricking moon! Anyway this guy saw the look on Jaco’s face and quickly reassures him it will be on a flight this afternoon to here and he will deliver it to us in our car park ( Home ) at the Yacht Club tomorrow as soon as he gets it cleared at custom’s. We are now waiting with crossed fingers and anything else that we can cross, We cannot stay longer than tomorrow here in Khartoum. As we have to start the journey through the desert to our next destination, Wadi Halfa where we are booked on the Ferry to Aswan on the 3rd June, We have to be in Wadi by Monday 1st to complete the documentations for the boarding and crossing into Egypt.

I must add a little side bit here about Sudan. All the way up through Africa we have been slightly apprehensive about traveling through Sudan , and we were thinking that the stone throwing, rifle pointing and general crowds in one’s faces the whole time would be nothing to what we could expect here. Well this country so far has amazed us. The people are very friendly, you are greeted where ever you go with a “Welcome” as greeting and their hospitality has been outstanding. When you walk in the street you are left alone, Ok the streets are chaotic to drive in and the weather is crazy hot, but the people are generally great. We are able to leave our stuff in the open here in the car park and go to sleep at night and everything will still be there in the morning. Perhaps the law they have here of chopping of a persons hand if he/she steals something may be a contributing factor to that, but it seems to work.

Thursday - This morning straight after we had our early morning coffee conference to plan our day, Jaco phoned Mohamed (Yes another one) this one is the guy at the courier agency. To enquire about the where about of his shock. Well disappointment again, the shock is now sitting in Kenya somewhere. I think this must be one of the most traveled shocks around. We have now made a group decision that we are not going to take the chance of Jaco riding through the desert to Wadi Halfa on his broken shock. It has already endured 3750 km’s and we are amazed that it has got this far with out collapsing completely. We are not prepared to chance Jaco’s well being if it packs up on the desert. The ferry in Wadi Halfa leaves once a week on a Wednesday, and for us now to reach it in time to check in before it sails we would have to push hard. This is not possible with the current state of Jacos bike.

We have now decided to fly us and our bikes from here to Italy. Our initial plan was to fly from Cairo, so we reckon flying from here is not much that we will have missed out. We were going to push hard through Egypt anyway just to reach Cairo on time for our flight.

Having made this decision, off we went to the airport to find out if this plan was possible.
After asking at a few air lines about getting our bikes over with no joy we ended up at Qatar Air Cargo office. There we were told that they could do it, and at a quarter of the cost that we were going to pay in Egypt. We are now booked on a plane bound for Rome leaving Khartoum on Tuesday evening and arriving Rome on Wednesday the 3rd June. We then plan on spending a bit of time touring Italy and Austria, as we will now be a bit ahead of our travel schedule. We are still planning on reaching Dublin on the 30th June for the end function.

Having done all this we headed back into town when Jaco gets a call that Lo and Behold his shock is at the airport and he must go to customs to collect it. Off Howard and Jaco go back to the airport. They got to customs and produce their way bill. The customs guy goes off and scratches around… Yes scratches. The incoming items are pilled up in a heap in the middle of this warehouse with no order of tracking at all. Anyway the shock is dully found and brought to Jaco for him to identify, Yes he says THAT’S IT. Well what happens next nearly caused Jaco to cause an International Relations Incident. The customs guy takes the shock back puts it in a cupboard picks up his bag, and with a voice of “I am in charge” informs Jaco and Howard that as today is their Friday he is now off duty and cannot sign the shock out. They must come back on Sunday to collect the shock. I think at that stage Jaco could have punched the guy. No amount of pleading would change his mind, so now we will be fitting a brand new shock to Jaco’s bike for it to once again fly to Italy this time. Hopefully once we get there poor Jaco can get some decent riding under his belt.

We have planned to do a short loop tomorrow into the desert to visit the Pyramids at Meroe, which is an ancient Royal city about 350 km’s from Khartoum. We then plan on camping out in the desert before heading back via Abu Hamad and Abu Dom, then back into Khartoum on Sunday morning to crate the bikes and prepare them for the Tuesday flight.