Swooosh, the steepest descent since leaving the Dali Llama’s Himalaya hill top months ago is beneath my smoking wheels. Literally, my back wheel rim is practically smoking, too hot to touch. The break seizes and the rubber brake pad wears thin.
My front break, disabled for some time due to a never ending friction problem, flaps open incapable of assisting to slow my speed. A rock bounces off the ground, as I swerve into the morning wake me up air. The children here in Ethiopia continue to play their rock throwing game.
I am not sure who threw this rock that bounces through my vision, launched by either a child or an adult throwing a rock at a child for throwing a rock at me. My best advice for all the locals big and small is everyone really needs to put down the rocks. I skid to a halt and the children scatter. Ethiopia’s shenanigans are notorious.
The front brake now clamped and engaged. The extra friction of my broken front break could only help in slowing me down to ride the sharp switch backs down to the Nile Gorge Bridge. Like tea pouring from a kettle, I continue to spill forward, halted again by a sizzle of the front wheel. A puncture, unique due to heat, has blown the valve to a hissing bubbling release. Cold water splashes to a sizzle on the front and back rims. Puncture repaired, front brake disabled once again, the bottom of the canyon is in sight, a 1000 meter drop in 22km.
From the canyon floor looking up at the mamma of all climbs, 1000metres back up in 22km, now thoroughly awake; I realize I am getting the stink eye, a pleasant change from dodging a rock. Baboons perch, sitting on the canyon walls and just stare. The locals give them bread, I have come empty handed, hence the stink eye.
Four climbing hours later, the canyon ridge top in sight, I am serenaded by a fossil lemonade stand. Industrious kind children are selling fossils they have collected by the river.
I thoroughly support their effort of not begging but simply offering to sell their treasures after school on their way home. I take out my rock pouch and they name my other Ethiopian minerals that I have been collecting for some time. Accumulating rocks, fossils and minerals, weighing down my panniers is probably not the best hobby but sometimes while climbing up and down with a baboon frown the earth’s treasures are too good to leave behind.