luxor to dongala.
Luxor to Dongala
1400kms… only 10,500kms to go.
So it’s been a while since my last update which is due to several reasons i.e. I think the internet only came to Sudan last week and secondly I have been pretty busy on the bike.
A lot has happened and many places have been seen since I last sat in front of a computer. From Luxor we continued on with our journey south which is always a good sign as it’s our definitive direction. We managed to check out ‘egpyt’s best preserved monument’, the horus temple which along with these complimenting credentials was made even better by the fact we were the only people there, quite a treat after coming from the busier sites. The other benefit was no touts trying to offer us ferry rides, hash or fortunate opportunities to take a photo. The final parts of our Egypt experience also included Aswan, the most southern town for tourists and for us a ferry port to North Sudan. It was also a town for another rest day which is always much appreciated, an opportunity to see the sites and just as importantly not go through the routine of turning your legs over and over (and over.)
The ferry to Sudan was all and then some of what we expected i.e. people taking all white goods from Egypt home to Sudan (think an entire electronics store) and simple chaos. Trying to get four fully loaded bikes onto a ferry whilst people are pushing past carrying fridges on their backs is not the easiest of tasks. Once we checked into our first class lodgings (think bunk bed with little else) we checked out the rest of the boat which was literally families of Sudanese in any open space bordering up their own areas with said white goods/electronics to form sheltered rooms. A first a little envious of their ‘proper’ way of travelling on the open top deck it was quickly dissolved once the sun went down and its accompanying temperature (and the fact we could watch more episodes of the wire inside on the ipad.) Certainly an experience I won’t be forgetting in a hurry, heightened in the morning when the masses faced mecca for prayer time.
Once at port at the other end it was evident we were in another country, one a little less developed with the port more so resembling a concrete boat ramp then an official immigration point. Surrounding this was well nothing, just a heap of sand dunes. The first ‘town’, Wadi Hafa resembled your typical border town offering not much besides customs, food and a lot of money exchangers of who all were keen for our crisp US dollars. It was here we spent a comical 4 hours going from one office to another and back to the original one and then some to compile individual manila folders of stamped stamps and normal stamps. I was keen to offer several ideas to speed up the process for future efficiency although if this was the case you wouldn’t get to meet the signature offering ‘captain’ on four different occasions as we did. Considering his rank I was a bit concerned when I fell straight his now broken plastic chair. I am thinking that having whole chickens accompanied by several sides and bread for lunch and again for dinner has some effect.
I think the most evident change once entering North Sudan is the people; straight away their extra efforts of hospitality were very evident. From roadside assistance offering, thumbs up encouragement to today where I received two cloves of garlic for free. We stayed in the delightful town of ‘Wawa’ (tiny village on the nile) the other night where we were put up in a guest house and our dinner was served along with local dinner guests. Always fun having a conversation over several hours of 4 shared words in addition to equally understood international hand signals. To say we feel very welcome would be an understatement. It’s literally like a scripted set where everyone has been told to be nice to the foreigners as we need to world to know that all is ok (compared to recent government led atrocities – Darfur.) I can certainly get used to the generosity as I hear the prices of garlic fluctuate quite dramatically throughout Africa.
The landscape at the moment could certainly be used as a stage for a mars landing, if ever required. I think the word ‘barren’ was specifically intended for it. Large (large) spaces of proper desert broken only by random hills of rocks and livened by sand storms that sting my delicate pins. I am thinking we’re probably going to see a little more of this with slight changes to its shading.
Ok I think that’s me done from a town called Dongala and to be more specific the ‘Nubian’ guest house which is run by a South Korean family despite being referred to as Chinese by most of the town’s residents. Today we have enjoyed another rest day, a day involving some sightseeing, being led around town for preferred eateries and Justin trying to use some hair removal cream very unsuccessfully as seen right now with him standing in front of me clad in cream. It’s a town that we could easily stay in for another few days. This said we must get back on the bikes as we have a little way to go, hoping we remain friends with the tail wind which has allowed back to back 190kms days. Next major town is Khartoum, the capital before heading south for most likely more desert and Ethiopia.
Please leave comments for grammar corrections (most likely many), thoughts on blog (besides my mum) and to say hi – thanks very much for all to date. Alternatively shoot me an email and when there is internet besides standing outside a closed internet store with a ridiculous amounts of flies to ‘borrow’ their wireless connection for speeds to resemble pre 1988 I will reply.