With a 200% deposit on a Carnet de passage just for Egypt we knew the slow wheels of bureaucracy in Egypt will test our patience. The day we landed in South Africa while Elsebie went to book into hospital for her knee, I went to the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria. I wanted to inquire about the process which we have to follow to keep our bikes legal in Egypt until we get back.
Needless to say, the Egyptian embassy in SA was not only very rude but also not helpful at all. We have been to many embassies for visas but to date have never experienced an embassy like this. One of the people working there looked at our paperwork and translated the Arabic to: the bikes had to be out of the country by 15th of May! Now take into account you get a 30 day visa and we told them at the border we will be traveling for a while in Egypt.
I met with the ambassador who informed me that he was only dealing with high people and do not deal or give advice on such trivial matters, tourist or no tourist. The best advice they could master up was for me to have letters stamped and notarised by the master of the high court in Bisho or Grahamstown in which I explain what happened.
Then have those letters stamped by the Minister of International relations and the Minister of Health. And in the end pay somebody that is approved by the master of the High court in Pretoria to translate it all into Arabic.
This took us some time, a lot of courier costs and fees to get all done. All the while we wondered if it was a futile exercise. Customs officials the world over are not the most upstanding of citizens and I was not optimistic that these letters would convince a border official wanting money.
With all our paperwork ready and new parts for the bikes, we flew back to Cairo 5 month later to try and get the bikes into Europe with the least amount of damage to our pockets.
The plan was to make it for Jordan, spend time at Petra, then Israel and then ship over to Italy from there. Shipping out of Egypt was our last option. There are too many horror stories of having to pay bribes and Baksheesh and then still having to wait for the boat which may or may not arrive within a week……or not.
We had our Shengzen visas and our Jordan visa’s in hand.
At least we had the time now to see the pyramids of Giza and the museum in Cairo. With some luck we got into a dodgy, small but cool hostel in the middle of Cairo. For about R180 per night per room, they even picked us up at the airport.
Driving in Cairo can at first be petrifying and very intimidating. But then although they drive like real hillbillies it’s a slow bumper to bumper affair with lots of hooting and screaming. Not much that can hurt you if you take it slow and just stay out of others way.
Johnny the Consular at the South African embassy that helped us since the start, again went out of his way to help us. This time had the driver took us to the traffic department to get the licenses renewed for the bikes as we would not have been able to find less talk to the people there.
But all was not that rosy, apparently in Arabic it stated on the papers we had 3 days to get the bikes out of Egypt or have higher penalties that we had to pay. We were still in the dark as to exactly how deep the trouble was and if, how much penalties would have to be paid for renewal of the Egyptian number plates and for customs.
The worse was we had 3 fucking days to get the bikes out of Egypt!
Some people told us they can not see it on the papers that got issued to us but we must rather not take a change. And as luck would have it the newest (7-8 months old) of the batteries was completely dead. The older one was also near death’s door, but luckily we brought 1 new battery with us. This resulted again in Johhny helping with the driver to track a bike shop in Cairo that would maybe with an off chance have a battery for a Dakar.
BMW the ever keen design engineers they are, love the concept of using special type of parts which you will never find outside of Germany, as is the case with the Dakar battery. In the end and after a long day running around we tracked down the equivalent battery for a 1200GS. I knew it would be too big to fit the battery box of the Dakar but that would just had to do the trick.