|Luxor - Edfu
||[Jul. 22nd, 2005|07:42 pm]
Nile for a Smile
The spirit of the Pharoes lives on in Egyptian Police generals. |
Following a terrorist attack on a tourist coach in the mid 1990's all tourist traffic is acompanied by the police. At set times each day a small convoy will depart Luxor for the Temple of Horous, my next destination.
After imperiously inspecting my papers the previous day, the general in charge of seeing the convoys off had declared that he would provide a police escort for me the following day.
All things in Egypt are subject to arbitrary change, in this instance I arrived bright and early to be told by the (different) general that it was impossible.
Much polite arguing ensured, which finally went my way when I told him it was to raise money for sick children (giving my total raised as over 10,000 Egyptian pounds), and that companies would refuse to pay if I did not cycle the whole route. Him insisting I would have to go by coach, and me determined that I had not come this far to clamber aboard a bloody bus at the last minute.
In the end he gave a kingly wave of his hand and one of his officiers delared that I could cycle.
Altough I lost the first hour of the day I felt an ETA in edfu of 13:00 would spare me from too much of the mid day heat (40 degrees +).
Fortunately my brave escort were on hand to ensure that I got to enjoy every blistering second of it with a long delay at a checkpoint waiting for a shift change (the same checkpoint that had turned me away the previous day - though in fairness, he would have been in a ot of trouble with his bosses back in Luxor if he hadn't (he could have offered me a damn lift back though ratherthan making me do another 30km).
Most of the detective grades are from Cairo, with a decent level of English, much better than my understanding of Arabic which consists of:
'Salam' = Hello
'Shokran' = Thanks
'Wait 5 Minutes' = You will die and old and bitter man at my checkpoint.
The detective who had escorted me was curious about British police, and that they carried no guns (he had an MP5 with a spare magazine taped to the one already loaded sitting on the desk). He was also a bit of a football fan (as are most Egyptians and talked of the UK's problems with hooligans.
After about half an hour I was back on the road. The heat was really picking up, but I was able to put one of my pannier bags and tent into police pick up truck, so loosing over half my cargo load, and increadng my speed.
For a few happy hours it looked like I could still keep my ETA to about 13:00, leaving me to fry in the hottest part of the day for only a few hours when the police pulled me into a touristy serving station to await the next car.
An hour from now with the next tourist coach. Protests got me nowhere so I could only wait it out while a police captain danced about to my Minidisk player.
Eventually the coach rumbled in and the passengers dissembarked to by icecream at 5 times the normal rate.
It was here that I met a fellow Brit on a motorbike who is heading overland fom London to Capetown for a kids charity. As with my own jaunt the Egyptians have no concept of 'The Journey'. He was asked in all seriousness why he didn't just take the plane.
The convoy was finally waved off and I was underway again. It was seriously hard ging (the temp was 42 degrees). I was able to carry on for another hour when the Captain told me he had to leave to meet up with another tourist convoy, and no I couldn't just carry on on my own.
14 miles out from Edfu I was ordered into the truck. To be honest I felt OK about it. The 60 km (40 miles) road to nowhere more than covered both the 14 miles to Edfu and the distance lost out from my bike puncture a few days back.
It was late afternoon by the time I finally made into Edfu (and the Temple of Horus was shut!)
Little remained but to rest up in a scummy little hotel in prep for the final day's cycling.
I'll let you know how that went tomorow