Staring our way down into the hearth of Africa
18.01.2009 30 °C
0500 am in Luxor
Waking up to the prayer call (it is amasing how one can get quite use to it) and then the music from the Tour d'Afrique truck:
In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To a river so deep
I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it's too hard to cross
And even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I've been looking for
It just felt so perfect as this trip is no doubt a quest
Tomorrow we will be taking the ferry for Sudan and this is probably my last message before 3 weeks; there should be no "real" internet connection before Ethiopie.
I am happy and anxious to get to Sudan - I am looking for the vast spaces, the sand desert that I imagine, those amazing sunrises and sunsets, the people from Sudan which I have been told are gentle and very friendly. I just have to survive a 12 hours crossing on the ferry from Aswan to Sudan (which we are told could take much more and be very epic
What are we leaving behind? Egypt - a country of contrasts and still my first contact with Africa:
- From semi desertic to very fertile grounds along the Nile - people working on the sugar canes fields with donkeys, camels (yes), horses, and oxos carrying the sugar canes branches on the wrong side of the road; this requires quite a skill for cyclists as we have to cycle around them without getting crashed by the taxis and buses driving along at what seems to be 140 km/hour!
- Non stopping noise from the cars - honking is whitout a doubt the favourite activities of Egyptian drivers who will honk at least 3 to 5 times to say hello or warn you that they are coming at a CRAZY CRAZY speed!!
- Many unfinished houses and buildings which look as if it was quite normal to stop construction before completion! We have been told that in big towns like Cairo and Luxor, the houses are left unfinished so that they will not pay taxes (which is due when the construction is finished...)
- These beautiful men with their djellabah (brown, gray or white) and some of them with turbans, the women with the hair covered mixing with the ones in full burka and the ones dressed in the American style - so much complexity in this society
- Luxor and Idfu streets - were you take one step out and immediately come into contact with 10 people trying to sell you a taxi ride, water, pepsi, scarfs, sandals, spices, and more and more weird items; They will have for you anything you can dream of or they will find it through their cousins or uncles as long as you are willing to pay a small token for their assistance (please give me 5 pounds... must be the sentence I have heard the most so far along with "money money" (show me the money) and "backsheesh"!
Aswan is a beautiful small town along the Nile with a very nice souk - the vendors are less aggressive; the backshish mentility is not quite the same here!
- AND then more more more kids along the streets - we are getting a taste of kids throwing rocks at us - why? Hard to say but it is so sad as many of the kids only wants to say hello to you and the "baseball to be stars" are the exception! We are told that it will be worst in Ethiopia where more kids throw rocks and try to steel from your bike bags (more on that chapter when we get there)- But for the next 2 weeks it is Sudan where steeling is major offense and people are said to be so helpful and kind.
AND YET - for the most part it is "Welcome to Egypt", the pyramids, these big beautiful brown eyes, the prayer calls in the afternoon as we bike along a mosque (where I often feel so peaceful); the shores of the Nile; the local food (which is really good), the dust everywhere in my eyes, my tent, my sleeping bags and all.