Can’t believe it’s tuesday again, and that another week has already passed since last update. We have just moved from Luxor to Aswan, which is only about two days of cycling. We spent three days chilling and visiting tourist sights in Luxor, feeling lazy and tired because of the heat. We left Luxor Thursday and almost managed to avoid our police friends a whole day. The trick was to always choose the smallest roads we could possibly find. That meant un-paved roads with bumps and sand. Too bumpy for the police escort but not for us! And choosing the small roads showed to be one of the best things we could have done. Suddenly people started acting really friendly towards us, smiling and greeting instead of just staring skeptically as previously. Sam, the serious traveller who has got a paper sheet with basic arabic phrases in the map holder on his handlebar bag, tried out his new arabic skills with success. Like the morning greeting ”Sabah el-kaher!”, with a touch of British accent.
But the lovely cycling suddenly became more challenging in the afternoon as the number of kids running after us and shouting increased. ”Hello!” and ”What’s your name?” is one thing, and that’s still friendly. The constant begging for money is harder to tackle. Especially when you try to ride your bicycle and the children who are begging you are running beside you, pulling you backwards by grabbing the handlebar and your arms. ”Money! Money! Dollar! Please!” Some of them were even armed with sugar canes, but fortunately they used their sticks to play rather than trying to defeat us.
After finally leaving the villages with the attacking kids behind us we passed a police check-point and got stopped again. We got a new police escort and ended up camping at a police station in the next town. One great thing about being surrounded by policemen all the time is that you get some facilities, like running water and Egyptian tea (50 percent tea and 50 percent sugar). Washing yourself after a day’s ride is one of the best things you can do, next to eating and crashing in your tent.
The next day we were accompanied by a new crew of policemen, in my opinion the nicest ones so far. They were quite relaxed and did not push us to cycle faster. And they stopped to let us cool down in a canal – with water pure enough to swim in. In the afternoon we arrived to Aswan. We really enjoyed the last hour of cycling along the Nile. The road was peaceful, the sun was setting and everything was nice and quiet until we got chased by some aggressive dogs. Lucky for us that the dear policemen were there to save our lives.
Here in Aswan we’ve finally got the sudanese visa, which was much faster and easier than we thought it would be. We went to the sudanese consulate Sunday morning, filled in the application form, waited an hour or so and then it was done. Apparently some tourists have to wait two-three days while others are lucky and get it directly.
So now we are ready to enter Sudan. Well, at least our passports. In very moment Tom and me are waiting outside of a jewelry store to exchange our Egyptian pounds into Sudanese money. Black market seems to be the only option here – since the exchange offices are out of dollars – and no matter how hard we try not to get ripped off we will for sure get a quite terrible exchange rate. But that’s probably a price you have to pay for being a ”rich” tourist in a developing country.
For the last part of the route until the sudanese border there are 3 main options. The first is to take a 24-hour passenger ferry on the Nile and the lake Nasser the whole way to the city Wadi-Halfa in Sudan. Since this boat only leaves once a week there are also buses going to Abu-Simbel, a town located on the western side of the lake. From there you can take a boat to cross the lake and continue down to Wadi-Halfa. There is, since a few years ago, also another way to get to Sudan from Aswan: to take the ”new” desert road to Abu Simbel. This is was Sam and me are going to do the next two-three days (it’s about 280 km from Aswan to Abu Simbel). Tom will stay here for a couple of days and then take the bus to meet us up in Wadi-Halfa. We will probably get another police escort but will at least try to cycle without being forced to jump into their van.
I’ll tell you next time about our first real desert tour!
/Zelda (and Tom and Sam, but don’t blame them for the swenglish writing!)