Based on the experiences of previous TDA's, it was expected that we would have a lot of stomach issues once we got to this country, and like clockwork, a few days into Ethiopia, a stomach bug has the TDA under seige. Some have it a lot worse then others, but I don't think I've talked to one person, who hasnt felt at least little off over the last few days. For those that have had it the worse, it has been a trying 3 or 4 days.
But the Tour must go on and, with a constant eye for a possible toilet, we have had a rich few days since my last update. Because of problems with one of the support vehicles we enjoyed an extra rest day in Gondor, where we spent most of our time in the Hotel Goha high above the city...just sitting around enjoying cold drinks and the view, while licking our wounds from the week before.
The ride out of Gondor was probably the most enjoyable yet. About 120 km, which included 2 climbs that were very "Col d'ish", in the way they reminded me of the French Alps - about 5-10km each, of switch backs, fanastic fews and the reward, of a summit, followed by a 20 minute charge down the other side of the mountain.
A quick 60km sprint (for some) the following day has landed us in Bahir Dar, which is a vibrant little town on lake Tana. On arrival, we all outfitted ourselves with outfits(Mardi Gras theme) found in the local market, and held our first TDA party. We highjacked the Hotel bar, to get the night started. Tej, an Ethiopian honey wine, was the drink of choice for many, while others drank the Ethiopian beer, or just stuck to the basics with Johnny Walker Red. After everyone had time to get a bit lubed up we took to the streets and continued the celebration in a bar hosting live Ethiopian music, watched by a full house of people jammed together sitting on crates and passing around Tej.
Although the unknown(like some days of our Epic week) may upset the "day in the life of the TDA", the TDA has become lifestyle, as described by someone in the dinner line a few nights ago. I find it interesting that rest days, have more then a few times, been described as the weekend. In fact as a rest day comes to an end, it feels eerily like a Sunday night, as you, mentally prepare yourself for an early wakeup and a week of work. And of course we wake up finding ourselves in the lucky predicament of having to hop on a bike to earn the reward of putting our feet up at the end of the day,eating a warm dinner,and watching the primetime show of the sun dropping over the horizon.
The stone throwing continues and is expected to through the rest of the country. After a couple of days you learn little tricks on how to anticipate and maybe even avoid the stone throwing. The sideline hecklers can get creative, and this past weeks winners were: the boy who somehow just missed a rider with a bail of hay; and in a seperate incident, 2 boys who tried to block the way of a couple of riders by spreading out the wingspan of a live captive goose.
We continue to indulge in the local cuisine(probably at the displeasure of our stomachs) - but it's too curious and delicious to resist. One such pleasure to which I have not give any written credit are the fruit juices which we have had since arriving in Egypt, but seem to have gotten better as we have headed south. As an example, my latest order was a "mixed", which is served in a large mug and each flavor has its own layer - in this case freshly squeezed/extracted avocado, mango, guava and pineapple. I tend to wonder if the mass production requirements of the west have not put the taste of a freshly made glass of fruit juice on the endangered list.
Sorry again for no new pics, but I'm hoping to have them posted in 5 or 6 days when we arrive in Addis Ababba.