Tonight we're at a 'Canal Camp' although some of the TDA staff have
given this camp an alter-name of the 'dead Camel Camp' because of the
three carcasses of camels surrounding the campsite. We're still fairly
near the Nile but tomorrow will steer away from it and further into the
deep of the desert.
The heat here is like nothing I've ever experienced before. The day
usually starts off fairly cool (in fact, trying to leave my sleeping bag
every morning has become harder and harder. At about 9am, it starts to
heat up (we normally leave camp at 8am) and gets steadily warmer. I'd
hazard a guess of around 10 degrees Celsius in the morning, reaching at
about 40-45 degrees at the warmest, about 2pm in the afternoon. The last
few days I was getting in quite late in the afternoon because of various
'challneges' (not sitting down / punctures) but tried today to reach
sooner to avoid the heat.
Water consumption is a big issue here - we need to drink many litres
worth in order to stay hydrated. Today whilst riding I drank about 6
litres of various beverages (occasional 'Coke stops' are one of the
luxuries en route to camp daily) and was still heavily dehydrated when I
arrived at camp. There are clay pots by the side of the road which
contain water for anybody to drink - I didn't try any of this today but
will to tomorrow. Something about the pots' construction causes the
water to stay surprisingly cool.
The other beautiful aspect of being a touring cyclist is that your
calorie burn is sky high - effectively meaning that you can eat as much
as you like and not gain weight. The sweets in Dongola were amazing, a
pastry similar to blaclava but available in a variety of different
forms. I bought snacks for the week of riding since eating only savoury
food quickly gets weary - 64 custard creams and 20 'Caramelo' chocolate
bars. The custard creams are holding up perfectly except that the fat
person inside me finds it hard to resist them (I've been through about
20 biscuits today already...).The chocolate bars lost their solidity and
are now delicious liquid chocolate.
It's strange that having been a vegetarian all my life (intially beause
my parents were vegetarian and then later because I didn't see the point
in switching), I've been seriously contemplating eating meat. Some of
the dishes that I see my fellow riders consuming look incredibly
appetising, made worse by my insatiable cyclists' hunger. I've resisted
so far and probably will do until the end of the trip but I do wonder if
I'm missing out on something good now. In addition, it's physically hard
to consume enough calories to balance the deficit and despite eating a
huge amount at dinner, I always wake up with a rumbling stomach.