|Here be dragons?
||[Sep. 10th, 2005|03:15 pm]
Nile for a Smile
You join me in 'Sohag' a few. I'll cover the last few days in brief.|
Cairo - Beni Suef
I didn't hit the road until 8:00am which was a real setback s the time from first light at 6 am is precious stuff.
To make up for lost time I cycled all day, taking a one hour break at 14:00 and arriving in Beni Suef for 17:00.
My eyes were killing me though, the dust and heat of the road, combined with a long time in bright light (even through my new sunglasses) gave me a nasty eyeache and I was knocking off the last few k's as fast as I could.
Foolish, and a lesson learned - I will make sure I am on the road for dawn and, if I don't make it o my destination by miday, hold up in a cafe until 16:00.
The scenery along th was was fantastic though and I did catch sight of one Azteh style pyramid looming over the palm trees. apparently it's one of the oldest pyramids. The Egyptians had not perfected their building techniques and over the centuries the sides collapsed leaing the Aztech style structure that remains.
In Beni Suef some nice men from State Security plonked themselves outside my hotel for the night. In times gone past (10 years now) there was an armed Islamic fundamentalist insurgency in the region between here and Quina which claimed over 1000 lives. It's all been quiet for over a decade and the Embassy no longer advises against travel to the region.
That said I doubt much could do more to wreck a police inspectors career than having a Westerner get into trouble in their district.
I have heard of westerners being put onto trains of being followed on the road by squads of security police (Chris, the Caman Islands cycle cop who was this way before me found himself put inside an armoured car and driven through one region!).
Beni Suef - Minya
The polie man was waiting at the hotel door as I went to leave. 'George Bush very big bad man, many people very angry. You wait here, I call police care to escort you'.
30 minutes later and there was still no sign of the Boys in Biege so he just waved me on.
I must say I was wary once I left the town (especially after sigting 2 people in traditional clothing toting rifles and a giant pump action shotgun). As I progressed I found myself looking at the roadside, not for it's fantastic scenery, but potential value as cover!
There was no need to worry, people from the roadside continued to call out "Hello" and 'Welcome' as I went by. One asked me to join him for tea (which I couldn't do as I was running late).
The police at checkpoints waved me through without problem and all was well until an elderly nutcase started shouting 'Allah Ackbar, Allah Ackbar' at me from his field.
Sure enough two minutes later I found myself at another checkpoint where the police decided they would escort me by car. 15 minutes they had a flat tyre.
Although there are a lot of police here, they seem to be very much part of the comunity they work in, joking and chatting to people as they go by.
Eventually I arrived in Minya without incident (appart from passing several Coptic Christian monestries that would have been nice to visit, but that's hard to do with a car load of armed men trundeling behind you!)
The State Security man in front of the hotel asked me my plans for the evening, but after clearing it with his boss on the radio, had no opposition to me going out to town alone. Minya itself was fairly unremarkable except for it's excelent view of the river Nile (most of my route has been aout 1.5 km inland so I don't get to see the nile that often!