22nd April, 2009
OK. As you already know, this is the first entry for a while. I apologize for not writing sooner, but there's only Internet in Khartoum (as far as I know) and the notes go back as far as:
17th April, 2009
Time to leave Atbara. The Nile Hotel was a pleasant respite, but I needed to get going to see everything. Antwon, the owner of the Nile Hotel drove me to catch the bus to Karima. I didn’t know it then, but the bus is just a minibus. So I hung around the market squre, bought a Pepsi, a few cups of shai, and then was bundled into a minivan. We drove out of Atbara and went staright to a ferry, which was fun and interesting. I helped a donkey get up the hill from the river. The owner was beating it with a stick as thick as my arm, but the cart was too heavy. There was another guy pushing, but the cart didn’t move till I put my shoulder to it. I am quite large compared to the average Sudanese, so I guess I’m like the Hulk (the green one) or something. We drove along a bumby road and came back to the paved highway. I should mention here that the paved highway actually goes over a bridge about a kilometer and a half away. It is open as I saw traffic going over it. I am not sure exactly why we crossed by ferry. Force of habit, perhaps?
The guy sitting facing me thought I was a little loopy as I stared out the window a lot. He was totally convinced I was mad when I actually took a photo of the desert. I should mention here that I had noticed that a view of the desert is pretty much the same as the view any where else in the desert. The mini bus dropped me in Karima and a guy directed me to El Shalimar Hotel (which, transalted means “The Northern Hotel” and it was about the same as the Northern Hotel on Main Street in Winnipeg, but without the alcohol (which makes a tremendous difference in the behaviour of the residents). The shower and toilets were quite foul, and I decided I wouldn’t be taking a shower while I was there. I was quite tired, and after wandering out to register with the Security Police and get a bite to eat, I came back to the lokanda (Sudanese word for a place that has some beds. It’s a big dormintory, but mostly everyone sleeps outside. The mosquito net comes in very handy.) They don’t have hotels with separate rooms in a lot of towns in Sudan. I showed my security pass to the hotel keeper and he happily took it from me then wouldn’t give it back. The Security Police told me I had to return it to get a travel pass to go further north.
The nice thing about lokandas is that they’re cheap. The El Shalimar was only 5 guinays. Though I’d rather just camp in the desert for nothing.
18th April, 2009
Got up early. Found a place open for shai, and had three cups, and because you can see Jebel Barkal from almost everywhere in Karima, I walked toward it. I stopped for Pepsi and a chat. Then at a place where I saw some mud brisk drying, I stopped to take a picture and the owner of the houae being built came out and showed me aound his new house and then we sat in his old, very large house and had iced lemonade. It was excellent, and then his friend, the school principle came by and we chated some more. By the time I got to Jebel Barkal is was quite warm.
Have I metioned IT’S HOT IN SUDAN?
There was no one to take my money, but the guard said the ticket guy would catch me up. Which he did, just in time to open up the Temple of Mut which is carved into the mountain. The key master was called Hattim, but he didn’t have change for the ticket, so I told him after I walked around the mountain I would stop at the museum. Hattim was very knowledgable, and he explained all the hierolyphics and different gods and goddesses and kings and such on the walls of the temple. He knew Derek Welsby and Tim Whateverhis faceis from Boston. I am so bad with names. There were two Czechs there taking pictures, but they really didn’t stay very long. After that I explored the Amun Temple on my own, and then circumabulated Jebel Barkal, stopping along the way to visit the pyramids to the Northwest of jebel Barkal. That was pretty interesting because south of the pyramids is a moslem graveyard, and it pretty well led all the way to the pyramids, so it was a bit like walking through the dead into the past. Pretty neat. Also there was a small stone hut beside the graves and inside was a bed set over a grave. I couldn’t really figure out why. I thought maybe someone with necrophiliac tendencies, but didn’t have the stomach to carry it out or a relative that was having a hard time saying goodbye, but I think it might be someplace they lay out the dead before they’re buried. Maybe a Muslim Wake Hut or something.
The neat thing about the Nubian pyramids is that they are steep enough that there is shade on the north side from the sun. A very welcome relief from the EXTREMELY HOT NOONDAY SUN. For some reason I decided I wouls climb up Jebel Barkal. Because it was there I suppose. This is not something I do lightly or as a general rule, but the climb along the North face seemed fairly easy, and I climbed up along the sand dune against the northwest flank. I think its only about 500 feet or so, though the HEAT may have affected my brain.
I suppose I had expected some sort of a Moses on the Mountain burning bush type thing but all I saw up there was fairly recent grafitti (I actually wrote my name and the date on a flat piece of rock there). It’s completely bare basalt (could be something else, but I think its basalt, don’t ask me why). Th moutain itself is basically soft sandstone under a basalt cap, and eventually, though not in my lieftime, the mountain will crumble. You can see where the wind has undermined the cap and the grey rocks have fallen. One of the temples there (I think it’s the Amun temple) has been buried under a rock fall and the interior is inaccessible. It would be interesting to see if there’s actually dead people who were trapped in there.
I went into an extremely vaginal cave which turned out to be fulla bats. I took a picture and backed out. Bat caves are smelly. Anyway, I got back to the museum and Hattim gave a relly good tour of the museum as well, and then I sat by the water jars under a big tree where I had tea with Hattim and some guards. And then tea with some colonel or major and some other officer, and then with the new soldiers that showed up. Very pleasant afternoon.
Did I mention the water jars before? Maybe. Anyway, they are unglazed terra cotta pots that are set on a stand and filled with water. The water seeps out through the unglazed pottery and evaporates which cools the water inside. This keeps the water at a very pleasant cool temperature. Also they sit under the shade of a tree which keeps them out of the sun, and then the water that is spilled about the pots keeps the tree watered, so it’s a very interesting ecological cooling system. Where there isn’t a tree, ususally the stand has some sort of a shade, but I like the ones under a tree the best (and they’re more photogenic).
So by the time I got back the the lokanda, I was tired enough to go right to sleep.
19th April, 2009
I got up early because I had a plan. I would steal back my police permt from the book on the clerk’s desk (he’s a late riser) then take a minibus to Meroway and then another to Nurri to see some more pyramids. The pyramid of Taharka there is the biggest in the Sudan. That way I could visit in the cool of the morning. Everything went according to plan. I stole back my police permit, and carried my pack over to the early morning tea stall beside the mosque, and had three cups of shai and cahtted with the men there. I walked to the area where the minibuses leave and got in one. I sat until 7:45 and I was still the only passenger, and these things don’t move until they’refull. I decided I should turn in my policec permit at the Security Office, and get my travel permit for Kerma, instead of wasting time in the bus.
When I refer to Security here in the Sudan, its an official government police force, part of the National Intelligence and Security Service, so a Security Guard is usually a government police officer. Not the kind you see in te Mall at home. As a rule though, they are ususally friendlier than Mall Security Guards and are more likely to call you over to have a chat than run you off for rollerbalding through the mall (you really can’t use rollerblades much here cause of the sand).
So after all that was done, it was BLOODY HOT, so I took a cab all the way to Nurri for 15 guinays (5 to Meroway, 10 to Nurri) It was fairly far and I think the driver realized he had underpriced the fare, so I gave him an extra 5 guinays. When we got to the aite at Nurri the taxi driver was dropping me off and a guy came over and said he was a policeman. He didn’t have a uniform so when he showed me his ID, I handed it over to the taxi driver for confirmation. We drove to the hospital there to get a ticket for the pyramids. The gatekeeper didn’t have any tickets so he wrote some Arabic on a piece of paper and gave that to me. I left my backpack at the Hospital guard house and headed for the pyramids. When I got there a pack of dogs occupied the sides of the large pyramids and barked quite incessantly at me. They were snarly enough I wished I had a stick. Strangely enough, it wasn’t until I was telling Gernot about it, he mentioned that picking up a stone and lobbing it at them would be an effective tactic.
The main reason that stoning people is a popular method of execution in the bible and stuff is that there are hardly any sticks and about seventeen billion stones. But I digress…
Spent some time at the pyramids, then took a minibus from the hospital corner into Meroway for 3 guinay, Meroway to Karima, 3 guinay, and then sat in a bus for Kerma for 2 hours after paying 15 guinay. We finally got underway, and headed for Dongola. The road is black topped all the way, so the ride is pretty smooth til the turn off into Dongola. Dongola is on the east side of the Nile, so the bus dropped us off at the ferry which costs 50 piasters or whatever that is. Dinars maybe. 50 dinars. The bloody LPG puts everything in dinars, but nobody even mentions dinars. Only guinays (pounds).
So I got to the other side and the tuk tuk drivers didn’t seem very interested in taking me anywhere. The first one I managed to stop took some other guys who came up after I stared to ask him how much into town (3guinay) Two dropped off passengers at the ferry and went back empty. I finally got a guy to take me. He was really helpful and friendly. So some guy at the ferry ticket office had said to stay at Lord’s Hotel, which is mentioned in the LPG, but I tried to get it through to him I wanted a hotel “with a room” but he took me to the Lord’s Hotel anyway. It’s a typical lokanda. Thankfully a little cleaner than El Shalimar in Karima. So the room was a 3 bed room and would cost 27 guinay. As it’s ususally cooler in a lokanda to sleep in the courtyard I took a bed there, and Gernot was already in the hotel! I’m not sure how happy he was to see me, but we set out to register with the Security Police together.
We stopped to take a tuktuk to the office, and the driver said 2 guinay which was a fair fare, when the guy beside him told him to charge 5 guinay (in Arabic, khamsa) then told him “ashera”(ten, five each) Gernot and I just looked at each other and got out without saying anything, and kept walking. We decided the guy must have been the tuktuk owner. We also decided he was probably Egyptian. His attitude suited that country far more than in Sudan. For example, when I took the taxi to Nurri, I offered the driver extra money when the police guy made us go to the hospital with him, and he just laughed and told me to put my money away.
We got another tuktuk around the corner for 2 guinay. We walked back to the Lord’s Hotel. I later had a rather bad fish dinner with a Sudanes English Teacher and his friend a veterinarian. The English teacher guy was weird cause he spoke kind of bad Rap. I can’t imaine what kind of mixed up language his students must be learning. The vet had applied to go to Canada and got royally ripped off by some “immigration consultant”. He had paid out over $5,000 before he realized he was being scammed. I told him if he has to write a cheque to anyone other than “The Minister of Finance” he was probably being scammed and promised to find out what he needed and what forms he would have to fill out when I got back to Canada.
19th April, 2009
Got up fairly early cause I thought I would like to visit the temple at Kawa before I headed north to Kerma. I asked Gernot if he would like to share a tuk tuk to the ferry but he seemed pretty eager not to travel with me, so he left while I was having tea. He said he was going to walk, but I guess he changed his mind, cause he was in a tuktuk with some other people when I got mine on the corner. We crossed over on the ferry, and Gernot headed for a ride to Kerma, and I headed to get a taxi to Kawa. They all quoted me 40 guinay which his hideously expensive in Sudanese terms for a 4 km ride.
The little chapter on Sudan in the Africa Lonely Planet guide Book is just plain bad. Everyone I talk to has said the same thing and the general consensu is that whoever wrote that piece probably hired a car and driver at the border and drove through, barely stopping anywhere, and it only mentions the really expensive hotels. It completely missed the El Kwathier Hotel in Shendi (which I think is over priced for what you get, but it’s still way cheaper than the ones mentione for Begriwaya). For the pyrmids there, the best bet is this: arrive at the pyramids about when Gernot and I did. You pay the 20 guinay for the entrance, camp there, and head for the cafetria (truck stop) 2 to 3 km south of the pyramids on the west side of the highway. Get into Shendi for the morning. Hire a car (with a driver who knows the way to visit Naga and Mussuwarat. Get back into Shendi and take the bus into Khartoum (or to Atbarra if you’re going North). That way, your entrance fee to the pyramids is like paying for accomodation as well, and you can get into Khartoum (or Atbarra) the next day. Or you could hit Shendi forst thing in the morning, hire a car (150 guinay) in Shendi for Naga and Mussuwarat and get to Begriwaya for the eening, then leave for Khartoum or Atbara the next morning.
But back to the LPG for Kawa. This is what it says:
“…The east bank ruins of the Temple of Kawa, which are mostly buried under sand, are about 4km south of the bus station (which is here, if you’re being official, you buy the SDD 2500 permit). It’s a pleasant walk…”
So, I’m thinkin, 40 guinay is WAY TOO MUCH for a 4km walk. I can’t find an office to buy a ticket. My plan was to buy the ticket, leave my pack there and hike to the Kawa Temple. No office, so I gott take my pack. I ask directions. Here’s the scoop: It’s 3 km to the highway. 6 km to the milestone 166km (measured from Khartoum). Dongola is 172 km. I kept walking cause everyone kept pointing me south. But by the time I was at the 166km milestone. I was QUITE HOT. There was a stack of cement bags, and I though I could see on the horizon to the southwest something that could very well be ruins. There are so many piles of stones an gravel in Sudan, that looking for ruins is quite difficult. So here’s what I was thinking as I was sitting on this pile of cement bags:
Nobody just puts down a couple of trailer loads of cement bags in the middle of the desert unless they’re planning on building something there, and if they’re building something, it could be a gateway for the archaeological site. While I’m thinkin, a head pops out of the stacked cement bags. He’s the cement bag guard and was sleeping inside a little hollow inside the pile. I ask about Kawa and he points to where I thought I could see a dig site. I gotta tell ya, part of me wanted to turn back and flag down a bus, but as I had gone that far, I thought I’d go see the Temple.
The romantic image of a temple “mostly buried under sand´called to me from across the barren wastes. So I set out. It’s 4km southwest of the mile stone. I have now walked a grand total of 13km through a VERY HOT DESERT. And I run out of water before I reach the ruins.
They are not “mostly buried under sand”. All that’s there is the foundations of the temple, and are sticking up a few inches out of the sand, but “mostly buried under sand” is not a very accurate description of foundations stones that are actually quite visible. The Temple is interesting as the entranceway faces the Nile, but it was quite disappointing. OK, I figure the “It’s a pleasant walk” part must be along the Nile. IT IS NOT A PLEASANT WALK. This part of the desert is a mass of rolling dunes. Not high, but soft and walking through them is like climbing up a fairly steep mountain. Having run out of water, I became quite dehydrated, and had to stopp fairly often where I could find a tree to cool off. I didn’t want to sit down because I felt like my muscles would seize up. I’ve had that happen before on a long trek, and stopping, the muscles just seem to cramp up. SO when I stopped I would just bend forward, rest my hands on my knees and wait to cool off. Finally I came to a farmer’s field, and there were a bunch of melons left in rows on the field. They had been there for a while and some had dried up, but I found one that seemed like it still was good, so I sat under a tree and opened it up with a stick I found (I don’t carry a knife, cause once I had one confiscated by customs).
I gotta tell ya, it was quite a primeval experience, and I felt a kinship with Lucie back in Ethiopia as I punched through the melon skin to get at the luscious meat insde. The outside of the melon looked like a watermelon, and the inside was white. The seeds were just like watermelon seeds. It wasn’t exactly dirrping with water, but it was moist enough to whet my throat and give me enough energy to keep going. So I walked along the Nile. I crossed an irrigation ditch, and was thirsty enough to risk drinking the water from a pipe pumping water from the nNile into the dtch. I didn’t drink a lot, but just swished a mouthful around my mouth, and swallowed it. A little further on I reached a village. There was a tree with some pots under it, and I dropped my pack and drank quite a bit of water.
I asked if there was a shop where I could buy a Pepsi, but everyone pointed back the way I had come, and I had no energy at all to backtrack, so I decided I’d just keep hiking back to Dongola. Thankfully I found a taxi parked outside a house with some kids in it, so I stopped to see if the kid could drive me back to Dongola (he was about ten), and eventually his little sister got their mom and she got me a glass of water and the real taxi driver. The fare to Dongola from there was 20 guinay.
So, I have this to say about the Lonely Planet Guide chapter of Sudan: IT SUCKS BIG TIME.
And listen to this:
I know I’ve been talking about HOW HOT IT IS in Sudan, but I found out later from a guy in the pickup I took from Dongola to Kerma it was 50 degrees Cesius that day. I coulda died! I was beet red from the heat by the time I reached that taxi, though the color changed after my third Pepsi.
If I hadn’t had had my shall over my head and found those melons that “pleasant walk” coulda killed me. If you wanna go there, take a taxi. It’s only 40 guinay, and its more than 4km!
And off I go. This is weird though. The pickups have seats in the back and are sorta covered, but they’re open. The wind actually kinda burns, abd with the sand sometimes it cuts pretty sharply. I wrapped my sall arounf my head and covered my face and was reasonably comfortable, but the other passengers (native Sudanes) had nothing , and they staved off the wind using notebooks, purses and hankies. Al Jeezeera!
Me, I was quite smug.
But the rest of the day didn’t go as smoothly as I had expected. The driver dropped me off in a starnge area (after passing a perfectly good place where I could buy Pepsi and told me I was in Kerma (it was only half true as you will read) A couple of other guys got out at the same place and one actually walked quite far down a street to show me there was a hotel. I was quite crestfallen, knowing from the distant bright pink walls I couldn’t really afford to stay there. Still there didn’t seem much of an alternative so I trudged in the direction he had pointed past palm trees a curious donkey and a mistrustful cow, and went inside the gate of the hotel compound. It was a Security Police place not a hotel. This was a wrong guess, but I didn’t realize until three hours or so later. Thankfully (again) they had jars of water and I drank quite bit, trying to get up the energy to leave and search out a real hotel “with rooms”. There was an archaeological site there (old Kerma)with a huge mud brick main temple palace thingie. I paid 20 guinay for a ticket, and despite the heat and my dilapidated condition, I dutifully climbed up and down the ruins, taking pictures willy-nilly and returned to the Security station. A guard gave me a biscuit, and marvelled that I drank the same water as he did, cause the Italian and French archaeologists that dug there (in the winter) drank nothing but water. Perhaps they had not been SO HOT!
I decided that the building was a girls school, cause a bunch of high school age girls came out of the buiding. They were dressed kinda cool. They wore mini skirts of all kinds, but wore their shawls on their heads and shoulders (matching their other clothes, and under the mini skirts (not to offend moslem decorum, wore pants: from basic black to sparkly blue jeans). Anyway, a couple spoke English, and they were impressed by my polite Arabic. OK, it made them laugh, but that’s OK. They gave me some really great food. Rice with some salad and a great sauce. It was delicious, and I realized that the food available on the street was nowhere near Sudanes homemade. Anyway, I washed that down with sparkling Apple juiec which they also gave me. A few minutes later the Police guys wanted me to have supper with them, but I was really full and had to turn them down. Everyone wantedme to stay and I finally found out why. The building was a museum and didn’t open until 5PM. So, just before 5 they hustled meinto the museum, and before other people arrived, I thought they were opening it just for me.
It was an excellent museum, and by the time I came back and walked back to the Security House to pick up my back pack, Gernot was there. He had gone on to the real Kerma and got a lokanda, and then come back to see the ruins (by taxi) (I think). I told him to go into the museum and I would sit and wait for him and we could go back together. He seemed OK with that, so I sat and waited, and the soldier that had been talking to me mostof the day showed me how different nationalities tied their shalls around their heads, and when he got the Sudan, he tied my shall about his head and, picking up a large stick waved it about saying he was Bashir (the President of Sudan under indictment by the international court for war crimes). He recovered his senses in time and looked about to make sure no one else had seen him.
Went back to the lokanda in Kerma with Gernot and we walked down to the Nile for a Pepsi. All the shops were pretty much closed. Gernot went for a swim in the Nile and chatted with some locals, but I opted for a pepsi. Form all I had read about the Bilharzia worm and and other parasites, I deided not to take a chance. Also I hadn’t seen a crocodile yet, and figured if all my wishes came true, then to see one in the middle of swimming would be the wrong time for that to happen. We ate at another place and returned to the lokanda and slept under the stars.
After such a harrowing day in the heat, I decided I wouls skip stopping at the Temle at Soleb and continue stright to Wadi Haifa and wait for the ferry to Aswan. Gernot was opting for the temple. By mid-morning, he had changed his mind. TO FIND OUT WHY, we have to go to
20th April, 2009
I think I’ve mentioned before that vehicles don’t leave until they’re full. And the only transportation from Kerma to Wadi Haifa (says everyone I asked) is with Ahmed and the truck. I sat for quite a while. Gernot had to take the same truck to stop by the Soleb temple. We decided finally that no one in Sudan does anything until the temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius. Once it got that hot we set off. Almost at noon. He had several conversations with villagers that all went like this:
GERNOT: “Does the bus to Waadi Haifa leave everyday?”
VILLAGER: “Yes. But sometimes not.”
GERNOT: “Is there a bus to Wadi Haifa tomorrow?”
VILLAGER: “I think so. But maybe not.”
So he decided he’d go straight to Wadi Haifa the same day as me.
We finally left at noon.
We drove for four minutes, then stopped. I thought it was because of the dead donkey in the middle of the road, but after ten minutes of the driver constantly backing into a pile o dirt, the donkey got up and everyone was talking about a cow, though I couldn’t see one that was blocking anything, and the driver kept backing into the dirt even though the donkey had moved.
It wasn’t a cow.
It was a Brahma bull. And we were loading him into the back of the truck with us. This was pretty exciting. They finally got him in and the farmer gave us the thumbs up, and we were off. Or at least until Benny (the pet name I gave the bull halfway through the trip) decided to jump out of the truck. Me and another guy finally pulled his legs off the railing and they tied him to the side differently, and took off. They had left too much room for him. Instead of roping him in so he would fall against the rope and remain standing, there was room for him to slip and fall. Especially after he started to poop on the floor. I helped him up a couple of times and we kinda bonded (though he hated being petted on the forehead and tried to head butt me every time I did it. I saw it as a challenge. I don’t know why, just a weird sense of humour I guess.
And the ride was BUMPY. There were some stretches of black top, but for the most part the driver decided to travel on the old road instead of the perfectly good (and incredibly smooth blacktop less than a half a kilometer away. I decided he was really the devil, and we were on the truck to Hell. But I discovered a new sport. Truck Riding! It’s too bumpy to sit, so I stood on the wheel well and held onto the railing on the side (hotter than heck) and, with my shall tightly wrapped around my head and face, rode the truck like it was a sailboard. Sometimes it was fun, but after eight hours like that ya get tired, and I wanted to lay down, but the only time I could do that was when the driver had NO OTHER CHOICE but to drive on asphalt.
We stopped at some oasis around 3PM and I was SO THANKFUL. And they had Pepsi. Gernot is also now addicted to Pepsi. I have talked to severral people along the way who say the same thing. Nothing quenches your thirst like Pepsi! I took a nap and they woke me to continue. The temperature seemed cooler. 45 I think. So off we go, skipping the asphalt whenever we could. We stopped someplace to deliver dome stuff a couple of times, so I bought Pepsi at those places as well. It got dark.
We finally reached Wadi Haifa around midnight and stopped to deliver Benny to a really nice house. Turns out Benny was the main course at the owner’s daughter’s wedding. They at least let him sit on a little patch opf lawn in the garden and set out a big bowl of water for him. So he had a nice last day on Earth. He still didn’t like being petted on the forehead though.
We had tea and biscuits, and set bedds out in the courtyard under the stars. I thought at first it was like a 5 star lokanda, but it was the guy’s house.
21st April, 2009
We had tea in the morning and a great shower. Said goodbye to Benny the Brahma Bull, and petted him on the head which made him want to get up and head butt me, so I told him to sit (and stopped petting him on the head).
The truck dropped us off at the Wadi Haifa Hotel (a particularly dingy lokanda). Gernot said it was the worst he had stayed in, but I think the El Shalimar in Karima is dirtier. Once again the LPG led us astray. It said get a room as fast as possible as they fill up quickly. We hsould have walked down the street a bit cause there were a couple of nicer ones south of Wadi Haifa. Still, we shared a room (three beds). The guy tried to charge us for the extra one, but as Sudanes don’t like to share rooms with us foreigners, he finally relented and put it in the courtyard. Gernot has a combination lock so we could lock up our stuff in the room. I don’t wanna seem too weird here, but at Wadi Haifa we were running into Egyptians and they’re not as honest as the Sudanese. Or at least there’s more than enough criminals in their midst for us to be concerned about our backpacks.
I went for breakfast and Gernot went to climb a mountain. At ten, we went to get our ferry tickets. They wouldn’t take US dollars so I went to the bank, but they wouldn’y change my money cause I didn’y hav a passport (the ticket office had kept it) so I went back to the hotel and got it changed at a horrible rate. After we had tickets we had to go to Customs and had papers filled out. There’s a small cafeteria there, and I had some Jawaffa juice. It’s white and I had turned it down before, but it was delicious and refreshing. The guy didn’t have any jawaffas left, but he says they’re not like melons. I thought maybe cause the melons that saved my life were white inside, maybe Jawaffa was made from them. Gernot had discovered a great juice bar, and there I found out a jawaffa is kinda like a pear. It’s a little sour, but most juice bars add a whole whacka sugar. Still, its one of my favourite drinks now. I came back for a nap. Later we went to The Egyptian Restaurant and had a delicious meal. There were some foreigners there, and we deicded they must be NGO workers because they had a really nice white four-by-four(we were wrong). All the NGO’s and the UN have these top of the line 4wheel drives with snorkels and stuff. We kinda wondered how they had any money left over after buying so many Toyota Land cruisers.
22nd April, 2009
Most of the day was spent waiting for the ferrr. We found a tuktuk to take us to the ferry landing arounf noon, cause a tour guy, Mazar Mahir (LPG, page 212, he told us. That’s the africa version we came to rely upon for a few laughs) told us to go around 1. He gave us some forms that would need to be filled out for the army nd security service. This was a good thing. We sat in the holding area for some time, and I broke my rule about oing up to the desk to check on the progre3ss of the passport stamping stuff, and the guy actually got mine and processed it right before my eyes! I got my passport and other papers together and woke Gernot to go and check on his and proceeded to the next stage. PASSPORT STAMPING. A couple more checks and I was outside the Customs shed. A kid called Mohammed Ali took it upon himself to look after me, and guided me onto the bus and then got me a meal ticket from the guy at the ferry, and I got on board. First I stowed my pack down in the 2nd class section, but after I went on deck, I realized you could camp up there, so I went back down and got my pack. Found a nice spot. Gernot came later and slid under the lifeboat with three English people, (Neils, Emma and Scott). Actually, Neils is Dutch but lives in England and speaks with an English accent.
I was pretty comfortable until some young Egyptians sat all around me and started smoking cigarettes and playing music on their cellphones. I moved, but the spot finally turned into a walkway, and later when the sun set, a prayer hall. I napped fitfully, but finally, around 18:00 Hours, the ferry backed away from he dock and we were off. I saw quite a few fish beside the boat but no crocodiles. I heard they were as long as 5 meters in Lake Nasser. But I guess, as I said later to a guy joking about seeing crocdiles: “You don’t see them until it’s too late.”
Woke uop aroun 11:30 PM in time to see Abu Simbel all lit up, but the ferry just passes by there. Took a picture but it was pretty bad. As it’s not really in its old poisiton, and the mountain it sits in is as artificial as the Magic Kingom at Disneyland, and the statues now are segmented, it just isn’t worth the extra time and cost to get transport back there to visit for an hour or so.
Still, I’m glad I’m travelling north into Egypt, as the monuments just keep getting bigger and bigger…