You may have noticed that I’m spending an inordinate amount of time managing to write blogs! Well, that’s because we are in something of a hiatus in Addis Ababa. We rolled in here on Guy Fawkes night, which understandably is not particularly celebrated here, thank goodness; but in doing so I noticed a particularly horrible grating noise coming from my back wheel. This awful clunking filled me with dread, as I was 99% sure it was a very bad sign indeed, and probably had something to do with those rear bearings which we’d had to sort out in Cairo. We stopped at one of the city’s big hotels, to ask the price (84 US dollars, too rich for our blood) and then ask directions to another hotel that’d been recommended by Sam. While I was doing so, Glyn had a look at the wheel, and with not much pressure at all managed to wobble it on it’s axle – definitely NOT a good sign. We coaxed the bike to the Holiday Hotel, getting seriously lost along the way, only to find that there was no room in the inn. However, they kindly sorted a place for us at the nearby Plaza Hotel where we have been ensconced ever since.
Yesterday we spent the morning trying to find someone who knows even a smattering of bike maintenance and repairs. This was no mean task, and together with walking to the Hilton Hotel to draw money took up the best part of the morning. Eventually, back at our hotel, the manager’s son came up trumps, with a friend of a friend (is this sounding familiar?) who could help. They came, while I was writing the Lalibela blog, and took my knackered wheel away. And have had it ever since! This is a rather disconcerting state of affairs, as you have no idea what is being done to it or how! Glyn woke up at 1:30 this morning worrying about whether or not they’d know to replace various bits that were so badly worn away they actually didn’t exist anymore when the wheel came off. Those of you who know me know I’m not exactly a morning person, and despite resetting my body clock to waking at 5:30 and going to bed by 9pm, I was still not very amused at this need for reassurance at 1:30am! I did my best, but didn’t really succeed; and when we eventually did get back to sleep I was pretty convinced I would wake to find that he’d gone grey overnight. He hasn’t but he may as well have for all the angst he’s experiencing!
For me, though, it’s been a bit of a blessing to be staying put in one place for longer than one night. It’s meant I can give my body a break from the rather arduous riding regime that it’s been subjected to for the past 6 weeks. Evidence of this includes:
- The blister on my foot, which developed in Libya when I put on an ankle brace to stop my ankle swelling; and which Catkin thankfully and artfully bled for me in Wadi Halfa;
- The suppurating sores that developed on my bottom lip in the Sudan, as a result of sunburn. These were painful in the extreme, and developed despite (or perhaps because of) smearing lots of Labello onto them every time we stopped. I now have an SPF 20 Aloe Vera containing stick of goop which seems to be working. The lips are nearly healed, thanks to Ethiopia’s cooler climate and the fact that I now ride with my neckscarf clenched between my teeth to prevent any sun reaching the sad and sorry skin!
- The numerous bruises which, as some of you have guessed, I have picked up along the way with each and every fall off my bike. Some of these are irrelevant, but I’ve had one huge discoloured patch about the size of a dinner plate on my left thigh ever since I managed to rip the tank bag off my bike with it in the sand just north of Dongola. It’s gone some very interesting colours, from dark purples and blues to shades of yellow, orange and green! It’s on the mend now, I believe, but is leaving behind a knot of hard muscle underneath that from previous experience I don’t think will properly disappear;
- The rash on my arse, which is luckily under control thanks to someone’s advice to take nappy cream with us – bless that soul! (It’s not too bad, actually, and wouldn’t have developed, I don’t think, if I wasn’t wearing these kevlar-lined riding jeans; but I figure it’s better to have this protection than none at all, even if it means subjecting my posterior to some unpleasant chafing!)
- And last, but not least, the stiff muscles … from those in my fingers, which ache from pulling in the clutch on tough roads, to those in my back which have been working hard to keep me upright, and even my intercostals, which not only get a good workout from the many quips Glyn comes up with that make me fall about laughing but also from picking up the bike when it’s fallen and generally keeping me upright on it!
So, as you can tell, despite the unplanned nature of our stop here in Addis, I am somewhat relieved and grateful to have the opportunity, not only to relax a bit but also to tell you all a bit more about our adventures!