Finally, after what felt like a short lifetime I eventually got to travel south again to Cairo after ten days riding East. This was a much welcomed change as the last four days from leaving Libya had been spent in the most horrific storm that I have ever had the pleasure of riding in. When only one mile away from my hotel in Libya where I was to meet my travel agent who would escort me to the border the next day the rain really started and I had to take cover on the road side completely drenched and wait for the storm to pass. In only a few minutes a substantial river was developing in front of me and any car trying to drive through was not always making it. What a scene.
First I had to find my way out of Benghazi which I found to be less than straight forward so returned back to the hotel and ask the parking attendant for some more directions. He asked me to wait for five minutes for his friend to direct me out. After five minutes an old XT600 rode past on the back wheel, guess who was to show me to the road I wanted? And in doing so spent the whole time weaving in and out of the traffic on the back wheel and rarely sat on the seat at that. Once at the right road we pulled over and he looked at me as if to say 'and why were you not doing the same?' Crazy, fully loaded or not! however this did get me to where I wanted to be.
On the way to the Egyptian border the crosswind in the desert was so fierce that it felt as if I was riding at a constant angle of 45deg. That was until I was overtaken by a truck doing 110kph and then all I had to do was sort out the resultant tank slapper. By the time I reached the border I was totally knackered and just wanted to rest. This I was to find out would be totally impossibility as to get into Egypt you have to spend four hours being given the run around while the officials, from what I can work out effectively recreate your Carnet de Passeages which costs 250 pounds back in the UK. I defy anybody to come up with a more bureaucratic paper creating process; they even put official stamps on photocopies of photocopies?? Stamp the import slip of the Carnet and the whole thing could be finished in 5 minutes. But then you would not have to part with 605EGP, may be I missed the point!
Still in the storm the ride to Alexandria was at times so bad that I could not even see where I was going due to the rain and amount of oil and diesel on my visor. I feared to wipe it clean as this would have made things worse so just prayed for heavier rain?! As you can imagine this makes for a some what dangerous situation especially as there are pot holes the size of craters and speed bumps just coming out of nowhere at you. At one point all the traffic was slowing down and I had left it a little too late so slammed on the back brake in an attempt to scrub of as much speed as possible, the bike stepped out sideways just before launching my self off of a speed bump. The people in the taxi next to me looked on in astonishment as I battled to regain control of the bike doing 40kph more than anyone else. Afterwards I just acted as if I had meant to do it like that.
On reaching Cairo it was warm enough to finally test out the camping gear that I had been questioning as to why I was carrying it at all. Success, only two hours from arriving at the camp to finally relaxing. I have since reduced this, thankfully. I even cooked my first meal, pasta! The next day it was straight to the Sudan embassy downtown to get the elusive visa which you can not get back in the UK without a lot of hassle. Therefore I was expecting the worst. On passing 100USD, which went straight into a suitcase and my passport to someone behind a desk who could not have look less official even if he worked on it. And less than one hour later visa issued, could not have been easier.
On my return to camp I found that a Land Rover had arrived which was traveling North back to Holland, my opportunity to get the low down. So a couple of nights were spent chatting about their experiences and me picking up a lot of very useful information and good spots to visit and camp. Even got a night free camping in the desert having crossed into Sinai.
After a short holiday or at least that is what it's felt like advancing my qualification in scuba it was time to get back on the bike and head to the mail land and Luxor. But not after the one of the most uncomfortable experiences of a camel ride, never saw that in the PADI manual. Thank you all at Reef 2000 for that one, never again. Mark still waiting on your donation for the training manual?
On leaving Sinai on the ferry I met a German on a Honda African Twin doing a similar route to myself the only overland biker that I have met so far. So it looks like we'll be traveling companions to Nairobi which is good as the next sections of terrain are both a little tricky and known for their banditos. I hope the riding will go a little better than when having to leave the camp at Luxor under an acrimonious departure I fell of in the deep sand just 50 meters up the road. Not the best time to fall off, the sand in Sudan will be fun.
Now in Aswan at a very nice and peaceful Nubian camp where we have serviced the bikes, put on the new tyres and getting ready for the off to Sudan, we leave on one ferry and the bikes on a barge. Just hope that we all become reunited in Wadi Halfa as most things in Egypt are not quite what they may at first appear to be. This is where the real Africa starts and we start to leave much of the Arabic world behind. May the adventure begin.
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