We have been to Egypt before so we decided to miss out Cairo and all the sites and head straight for Sudan. I then spotted a detour that would take us well into the Sahara, so that will be our route, but it means we will have to go through Cairo, and as we are there I thought it may be to our advantage to get our Ethiopian visas now. Cairo the city of filth, noise and pollution, with a population of twenty million and I think they all have cars and they are all out on the road twenty four hours a day, the only code of driving is use your horn, the noise. Abysmal driving techniques, but can they make a noise.
Visa’d up we were away off on the desert road, eventually we came to Bahariyya oasis where we stopped for the night, as it turned out it was new years eve, and we were invited to a Bedouin tent for a bit of a bash. Live band playing traditional Bedouin music, and endless supplies of traditional Bedouin tea. What a do.
In the morning our host helped us find some diesel on the black market. When we first filled up we got a tank full for a fiver (that helped us get over the misery of the port) now we are reduced to paying double price on the black market. On our way here we passed miles and miles of oil wells, but nothing at the pumps, I think there is something amiss. Buying on the black market was the norm for the rest of our stay in Egypt.
Setting off each day is a little bit nerve racking, wondering if we are going to get enough fuel to get to the next place that has no diesel, it is a somewhat like going on a bit of an adventure.
One of our diesel stops had two men, one holding a funnel and the other tipping the fuel from a 25 litre can, they managed to cover half of the car in diesel and only just short of roof level, with the second can there was the same mess but they did not stop pouring until the diesel was overflowing the tank, they then asked me if it was full, ok, I said “YES FULL” they indicated there was a little drop more in the can so they tried topping up the already overflowing tank. I can’t help thinking there is a lot more of this mentality to come.
Road checks are another thing, this is all over Egypt, but on the desert road there is one road and either side of it is miles of nothing, you come to a check point, this usually consists of a few rusty drums some bits of fencing or even pieces of junk, but amidst all this rubbish is the shiny cats claw, why that I do not know. Every time you have to wait for someone to get off his backside and come out with his grubby exercise book and ask “where you come from?” “Farafa” “ where you go?” ” El Qsar” “passport” he takes the passport writes down all the details, and then asks “Italiano?” “no English” “Aah welcome”
Fifty K down the road “where you come from?” there is an inner person desperate to say “the last effing check point and I am going to the next effing check point there is nowhere else to go or come from” but I am not brave enough especially when they are armed. “Germany?” “NO look at bloody passport” (if only) “no English” “ welcome” “thank you”
We had met some Austrians who told us about a desert road to Aswan, in El Kharga, where the turn off is, the local police and army told us there was no such road, having more faith in the Austrians than I do in the local militia I set off down my chosen route and came across a superb road (by Egyptian standards) I also noticed this road was on the radar of the police and army as they had check points along the way (two were only 5k apart) This route was also 400k (250miles) shorter than the way the locals wanted me to go.
I seem to be so wrapped up in these little hiccups I forgot to mention that we went to a number of oases, hot springs, an area called the Black Desert and one called the White Desert, there was a lot of amazing landscape and an awful lot of sand, and we were only in one corner of a desert that takes in ten or so countries.
Last night we met a Dutch couple who brought their car over to Africa ten years ago, they holiday, park the car somewhere, go home, come back next holiday and repeat the process. Fifteen times they have been here, and of the forty eight countries of mainland Africa they have visited about forty two of them in their 2CV. I kid you not round Africa in a 2CV (are you listening Mr. and Mrs. Dean) and there is me thinking I am ill prepared. It just goes to show.
So we come to Aswan effectively the end of the road in Egypt
Tomorrow we get the ferry from hell. Oh no I think I have heard a story like this before.
There are a few photos on http://picasaweb.google.com/mickhelen99
And there are a couple more map markers on http://www.zeemaps.com/map?group=468852.