|The last day
||[Sep. 20th, 2005|09:34 am]
Nile for a Smile
Breakfast consisted of some tinned tuna fish and bannanas (Edfu is a bit of a dump, so I wanted to avoid risking stomach upsets for the harshest day of the route).|
As the heat would be building from 9:30 I made sure my bags were ready the night before so I could make a 6:00 am start.
There would inevitably be more beuractatic hassles with the police and I considered trying to sneak past their large checkpoint on the crossroads just out of town. Sadly my bike seems to have picked up a nasty squeak (possibly in exchange for some of the spokes that seem to have fallen out of my increasingly mangled rear wheel) so I'm sure they heard me long before they saw me come over the Nile bridge to the main road for Aswan. So much for 'stealth mode'.
"Stop! You must wait until 8:00 for an escort, it is safer"
After a brief, and futile arguement trying to get it through to them that making me cycle through the mid day heat of southern Egypt did little for my safety, I decided to head back to town and get a quick look at the Temple of Horus wondering if the militaries grasp of safety, timing and distance could be the reason Egypt has come second place is so many wars in the last 2000 years.
The temple gate guard told me they did not open until 7:00, although as he had no watch I was able to get in early by setting mine ten minutes fast and showing him, enabling me to sneak in and grab some shots of me an my bike before the tour buses arrived from Luxor). A small coup, but a nice start to the day.
Returning to the police station I was told to wait '5 minutes'. At about 8:30 I decided it was time to kick up a fuss as cleary nothing was happening and to the best of my knowledge no-one hwas actually arranging this magical escort they insist I have.
Eventually a pharonic general showed up at the checkpoint (not even speaking to me), gave a not of his head, and one of his minions informed me that I could go now, with the caution the "It wil be hot" (this one must be their leader).
Having been arguing this point for 3 hours I bit back on "May I borrow your gun for a few moments?" and suggested I should get underway as soon as possible.
It was past 9:00 when I got underway, and having wasted my time for 3 hours, I was suprised when my escort
pulled me over 45 minutes from town, declearing this was the limit of their juristriction.
A police escort has it's uses. Nothing gets you through the traffic of small towns, and I can usually dump some of my kit in their car, but the can also be a practical barrier to just stoppig at a small cafe for a drink and meeting people for 10 or 20 minute, or just pausing to take some photos of the scenery (a sand and rock theme for this area).
After a few hours cycling I paused for half an hour at just such a cafe. The owner was a lovely old bloke who marvelled at my digital camera (looking into the zoom lense when he tried to take a picture with it). He insisted of us posing for a few shots and asked that I post them to him.
It was after 12:30 now, but with only 50 km from Aswan now and just decided to press on. The going was fairly brutal for the second half with fewer places I could restock my water bottles and almost no shade. What shade there was had to be avoided as it would lure me in too close to the side of the road where metal pins or shards of glass lurk (such a mistake had already cost be a flat tyre a few days previous).
A part of me was OK with the situation, though the going was as tough as it could get (thanks to my extended stay at the Efu checkpoint), the feeling of achievement if I could knock off these last miles would be all the greater for it.
Every now and again I'd pass by villages built into the hillside, crumbling multi coloured shacks with satalite dishes. The roadsigns helped a lot as every few kilometres the signs would declare Aswan to be closer.
The end came suddenly as I turned a bend in the road to see the whole city laid out before me, complete with little fishing boats and the larger tourist cruisers.
It's 2 days on and I'm back in Cairo now (by train this time!), Theres lots to say about Egypt and the experiences I've had that are not recorded within the focus of my progress down the Nile but I will try to get some thing written up.
So how do I feel?
Yeah, pretty good.