Penning our experience with Egypt took me some time. It’s got more to do with the aberrant manner of Egypt. Take caution not to become cynical about Egyptians and try and see the real Egypt and people. But let me tell you the story and you can decide for yourself. It’s a love hate affair. Sometimes more hate than love and a bit of a culture shock until one learn to deal with Egypt’s eccentric and quirky ways.
Our modus operandi for any new country was and still is, go in with open minds and expect anything and know that most things most probably will be different to what we are accustomed to. This was no different to Egypt. Although, we had our trepidation about Egypt and were told horror stories by many travelers about Baksheesh and the art of ripping-off of travelers even outside the tourist areas.
We were really seeing forward sitting next to the Nile in Aswan with a beer, Falafel and the sun setting over the sand dunes. You know that pictures of Raiders of the Lost Arch and such movie? And then off course to see the pyramids and ancient sites of the old Egyptians.
Mazar our fixer in Sudan at the border town of Wadi Halfa ran around preparing all the paper work for us to enter Egypt onboard the dilapidated SS Titanic Nasser. This ramshackle zinc tub was still the current and only means of travel between Sudan and Egypt. This must still be the first steel boat ever build in the world operating. We quickly found out the reason for its existence was that an entire economy revolves around the operation of this vessel.
Most migrants and travelers between the two countries would rather opt for road as means of transport than this decrepit piece of 1920’s boat building marvel. There is a perfectly good piece of black slab between Sudan and Egypt but because of corruption people are forced to use the boat and are not allowed to travel by road.
It took 24 hours for the boat to travel to Aswan along the length of Lake Nasser. We had to ask special permission to get our bikes on board as this ferry only took passengers. The barges that normally transport the vehicles were not operational due to a low water level in Lake Nasser.
We set sail late in the afternoon. It took age’s to load all the people and their bags of whatever they had with them. Well, whatever powered this waiting-to-sink-fail-ship got slowly going with more people on-board than what very lenient Western safety standard would allow. There were people sleeping on everything that were flat.
Elsebie got allocated a cabin with a woman and her 2 kids the size of a shoe box. That turned out a disaster as the woman green smelly fart quickly filled the small cabin. As for myself, I had to use friendly force and an evil eye with a few Egyptians for the lid of the box where the life jackets were stored on deck. Not long and Elsebie made me move up to lie next to me on the lid of the box, the farting got too much for her to bear.
We met up with Antoine and Carlene, two bicycle riders from Europe that rode their bicycles from Ethiopia back to Europe. Eventually, we got space under one of the Lifeboats for the duration of the trip. This ferry trip turned out to be one of those experiences which were quite memorable and enjoyable but we would never want to do it again.