A Travellerspoint blog

On our way to Luxor

Cycling among a crowd of kids!

What does a typical day looks like on the road?:

0500 am prayer call (very loud in Egypt) - open one eye thinking I most get up - and I may take on prayer as well!
0515 - gymnastic to put on:
- contact lenses, cream on my bike short AND cream on my rear end (after I bend my 6 feet body into a 6 feet tent!), Sun lotion (very much needed) - This is much more high maitenance than at home!!! By the way, the rear end is getting better!!!
- Put on the rest of my bike clothes and pack the tent - (where is that dammit flashlight? Where are my cycling gloves? I seem to be way less organised then during Tour du Canada - will have to get better;)
- Find the shovel and dig a hole for the first morning business ;) - It is still at the phase of "solid waste management" so a good new!
- Go to breakfast - porridge and peanut butter sandwiches - very familiar and still good!
- Leave camp around 0700 am - People in the group get up early and leave fast so I am usually among the last ones to leave by the time I manage to get ready and find everything I have lost - by the way there is no "lost and found box" so I must take care of my stuff by myself - very difficult ;)
- Then cylcing the full day - freedom freedom and freedom! Well, until the end of the afternoon and by that time police is following my rear tire! We are escorted through Egypt: meaning the police car sweep the last rider - and you know me - I like to wonder around and talk to locals or just stop and look around- so I often end up being the last rider with the police car on my back - they have started to escort me with egyptian music so I don't get bored ;) ! So if anybody is concerned for my safety you should not !!!!
- Get to camp at the end of the day - set my tent, eat, rest and go to bed!

BUT THERE IS MORE TO IT
- I have learned a few words in arabic - very usefull for small conversation with locals ;)
- I am learning to "navigate" among crowds of kids who are getting very excited when a group of 50 crazy cyclists with good looking bikes, spandex and colorful jerseys have gone by! You get "hello" "Salam Alekum", some throw rocks, some want to give you flowers and kisses, but most of them have beautiful big brown eyes and are just very curious to see and hear you! The kids have been the highlight of the last two days of cylcing as we were making our way to Luxor! We have left the semi-desertic region and are now getting into the very fertile lands of the Nile with palm trees, sugar cane being harvested...
- I have visited the " Temple of Karmac" in Luxor - One of the biggest temple - you still see hieroglifs; have been to the egyptian market and "invited" (read strongly pushed) thousand of times to buy various stuff I don't need - but then there are the spices, the meat out being cut, the bread.... It was a very nice experience.

Two more days in Egypt and then we will take an overnight ferry to Sudan - this ferry will be quite an adventure - 20 hours and very basic conditions - so more to come on this experience.

Must go to sleep now and the internet is so slow that it took me more than 1 hour to get that post on! Sorry for any mispelling but no time for spel check as teh machne may6 crash at any time!

Posted by soafrica 11:37 Comments (0)

A start by the pyramids!

sunny 30 °C

It's almost magical to be so nervous and at the same time happy and contended. Will I make it? Will my body keep up with the demands and abuses? Will my bike survive 4 months of dirt, sand, mud, viscious holes, car tires on the side of the road, glasses and "other foreign objects" all over the road without major breakdown that can't be fixed?

Status so far:

One sore "rear end" - but I would say that more than half the group is having rear end problems so that is my consolation (I am not alone in this misery)- for the moment I am still riding putting on a lot of cream during the day and at night - there are no bathroom or shower in bush camps so the routine is to use baby wipes to attemp to clean oneself - I am mostly cleaning my face, the butt and then doing some gymnastique to put cream on my butt while being in my tent with my flashlight! Not a pretty picture!

For toilets - you find a nice quite place somewhere (not so obvious with 50 people camping together) and you dig a hole!

It is hot in the day (37 celcius yesterday afternoon) but cold at night in the tent!

3 or 4 days of nice riding (I have already lost the count...) - We started the 2009 Tour at the Pyramids in the Giza district with for background - yes the pyramids!!! What an amazing start and then we biked through Cairo escorted by the police quite an experience to see the contrasts between modern and poor with crazy crazy crazy car traffic - even with police escort some cars were still coming into our line - I can't say that egyptians are the most patient people I have met! But very friendly. In Cairo, many trees (first half of the trees) are painted white. We asked why and were told different story including "white is a nice color" - "help for visibility" and "prevent insects from eating the trees"!

For the rest of the days, we cycled along the Red Sea on one side and some mountain on the other side - a rather desertic area with rugged mountains. It is nice once you learn to close your eyes to the amount of garbage on the side of the road just in front of the mountains....

I have been swimming twice in the Red Sea - cold but nice - one contended girl!!!

And then tonight we have a camp that is "in town" along a beach with a toilet and internet cafe (already seems like big luxury!)

My body - So far so good - Knees are holding up nicely and I am building up an appetite! So all fine with the exception of my rear end - I am doing positive thinking while biking saying to myself that I will soon have a butt made of steel in the mean time I suffer and hope that the saddle sores won't get me out of the bike - crossing my fingers!

We have two more days of cycling to get to Luxor for a rest day - Tomorrow is a hard day as we climb for 40 km in hot weather - a total of 130 km - will see ;)

I will write more when I get to Luxor! Hard to describe how I feel so far - just still trying to connect with this reality, happy, contended on my bike and knowing that it will be quite an adventure!

Sonia, "Fargo" (my new bike) and Orimou

Note: For those of you who don't know - Orimou is a stuffed Canadian Moose (which crossed Canada on my helmet two years ago - it is now on my rear rack (already bringing me some attention from the kids!) I will try to post some picture in Luxor.

Posted by soafrica 08:36 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Starting a Journey to Discovery

Biking in Africa

sunny -1 °C
View Cairo to Cape Town by bike on soafrica's travel map.

Where to now?

I got “hit” by the “cycling/touring bug” last summer and have not fully recovered since.

Living in the moment, all your senses being awake, one corner after the other, discovering day after day, sharing with a ‘community of strangers’ who so easily become part of your world, a chance to witness the differences and learn from the places and people you cross, day dreaming under the sun, fighting with the headwinds, laughing with the tailwinds, and the feeling of ‘wow, I did it’ at the end of the day when you look at the stars or sleep under the rain.

In less than 3 months now, I will be starting a journey through Africa on my bike, joining the 2009 Tour d’Afrique group pedaling from Cairo to Cape Town (11 800 km of pure joy…). I will experience some parts of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Bostwana, Namibia, and South Africa.

I expect that after that trip in Africa, my “cycling/touring bug” will be resistant to any treatment and will stay with me forever! I’ll take that chance.

This blog is my way of thanking those around me who are indulging me when I talk about this crazy adventure even if I seemed so slighlty confused about it! To all of you, I will write about the stories of the day, the paths we are crossing, these kids I will be meeting, post pictures, share my amazement, the laugh and the pain… I will also be thinking of you on these nights when I get into my tent and feel “slightly afraid” for the next day (What in hell have I got myself into!), this after checking to be sure that there is no snake, scorpion or any other “bebittes” of this kind in my sleeping bag!.

Since I have the chance of doing this great journey, I also hope to raise some funds for the Tour D’Afrique Foundation which will serve to donate bikes to health care professionals and other social groups in Africa. 100% of the donated money goes to the purchase of the bike and so far TDA Foundation has given more than 700 bikes (http://www.tourdafrique.com/foundation/). Have a look!

I can’t wait!

So

Posted by soafrica 05:30 Archived in Canada Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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