Cairo-Aswan 24.11.2008

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Being a South African I am used to dealing with incompetence and unreliability. I thought I had an idea of what we’re in for traveling through Africa but I was so wrong. Nothing can really prepare you for the way things are done here in Egypt. It’s off the scale. They simply have different priorities, different ways of doing things. The only thing that’s actually happening on time is their prayer-hours. Nothing else. They often say “5 minutes” which really means anything from 5 minutes till a whole day. This is something that is said alot about African time, but one have to see and experience it to be able to really comprehend it. No sense off time whatsoever. It is hundred fold worse than what we so often complain about in South Africa. It’s not easy getting used to if one is used to the western world. I’ve sort off made my peace with it and am now more amused by it than anything else. I mean, like Yasser so often says:  “What can you do?”, which actually means that there’s nothing to do about it. (Me and Christoph have adopted this phrase and have been using it more than often in the last 2 weeks.)

We drove to here (Aswan in South-Egypt) from Cairo under alot of stress to make it in time to meet up with a certain Machmoed, a “fixer”, which basically means that he helps us getting the bikes and ourselves checked out of Egypt and onto the ferrie for Sudan. He said that we had to be here on Thu-night to be able to still get tickets for the ferrie. If we missed these tickets we would’ve had to wait another week before the next ferrie leaves for Sudan and we’re already so far behind our schdule that it was just not an option. Long story short, we made it in time only to find that Machmoed’s phone was off when we arrived. After many sms’s and messages he finally phoned back the next evening to say that we should meet him at the ticket-office the next morning. Of course he didn’t show up the next morning but we did manage to eventually get the tickets and do all the necessary admin ourselves. To be allowed to buy this ticket we had to leave the ticket-office (A) to get a paper from a certain office (B) on the other side of town that then has to be taken to the traffic-department (C) which is again somewhere else in town. Finally you get a little stamped paper  at C which then allows you to buy the ticket at A. The guy responsible at B simply didn’t pitch at work untill 14:10. No explanation or excuse from him.  (We waited there since around 11:00 and some other tour-group waited since 8:00 the morning.) The catch is point C has now closed at 14:00 already, which means that no one can buy tickets on this day anymore. This again means that the ferrie that’s waiting to be loaded with the vehicles simply has to leave a day or two later. (There’s also a bunch of Anxious tourists with their barge of vehichles waiting on this ferrie to be loaded on the Sudan side.) The funny thing is that no-one cares about the delay whatsoever. The next morning arriving at the traffic department (C) the official responsible pitched a couple of hours late because he went to church. (He must be the only Christian in this whole city) The guys responsible really couldn’t care less. This is just one example out of many. The passenger ferrie which leaves every Monday has no fixed departure time. It basically leaves when it leaves, which could be anytime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday.

Trying to buy anything here is also something else. No matter where you go they always try to sell you whatever item at literally 4-10 times the actual price. You really have to fight and bargain for every last little penny. Even with changing money at the bank. Basically every bank that I’ve been to for exchange has a currency-board on the wall which is suppose to display the different exchange rates. It’s always switched off. If you don’t get the guy to actually write down the exchange rate they take you for a ride. The last time I changed I had to put up quite a fight to get him to write down the rate and to hand me the calculator. After this he first tried to write down too low a rate, then he tried to change it at a different rate than what he wrote down, and then after I’ve showed him with the calculator that he made a “mistake” he still tries to give me 1 pound (about 16 Euro cents) too little. This is all done openly, he knows that you know that he’s trying to con money out of you but they wouldn’t apologize, matter of fact, they are most annoyed at you when you don’t fall for it, and they show their annoyance. When you pay anything at a street shop you have to fight to get your change back. That’s simply the standard here if you’re a tourist. At the beginning we found it very annoying but now we just laugh about it. I mean, what can you do? Just make sure to have change with you and pay what you think is a fair price and walk away.

I have a boat to catch so I’m off.

Next post will be from Sudan.

Thanx for reading.

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Ja, Egiptenare is super dodgy! Ek moes net keer vir my wickets (if you know what I mean) toe hulle belly dancing outfits aan my wou verkoop alhoewel ek GLAD nie belanggestel het nie! ”But look how nice it look on you” sé hulle terwyl hulle die bo-stuk (basically a sequenced bikini top) teen my wil hou! Gril! Ek’s nou nog uitgefreak! Nee beteken beslis vir hulle jy stel belang! Sterkte met hulle! x

Sjoe! Dit klink chaos! Ek skat die trip sal nie so ‘n blywende indruk op ‘n mens maak as jy nie deur sulke frustrasies gaan nie. Hopelik is daar darem Gould en die Engelse Suites om dinge beter te maak. Ek was mal oor julle “Offroad” video! Hier in die Kaap maak almal nou reg om op Desember vakansie te gaan. Die somersdae is nou lekker lank en warm en daar is so vakansie-vibe in die lug. Lekker! Ek gaan hierdie week die Otter stap saam met Wouter, John en Stevie - volgende keer kom jy saam! Groete en geniet Sudan. Wynand

Hi Gedeon, hard words to read - and a hard trip to go. I think you’ll have to stand these fucking circumstandings for some 80 days. What about your timetiable - is there a ’short window’ for a little rest in Sudan? Good luck for you both an your famous bikes (riding an R12 GS Advenure by my own) - always a pleasure reading your postings while wathing your pictures - from europe, good old germany, laying snow outside since last saturday. cu Enduro

Hey braziaan!! Sterkte en wees versitgtig!!! Dankie vir die updates!! Ons raak super excited elke keer as daar ietsie gepost is, dis baie cool dat julle als dokumenteer, jy weet jy gaan ‘n boek moet skryf!!?? XX

Afrika - O Afrika!


Papi/Gunter’s avatar

Hi Gideon and Christoph,
Super reports from both of you. It’s always such a pleasure to read about your incredible adventures and experiences. Well, I realize you are learning fast, especially about patience. “What can you do” is probably the best answer, if you want to avoid loosing your temper altogether. But I guess you need nerves like “drahtseile”. Mine are not that robust anymore.
Hope you will arrive safely in Sudan and hopefully meet people like Yasser and a spot where you can relax and recover from your Cairo stress.
Thinking of you and sending lots of good wishes.
God bless you both.

Hey guys! Great posts and pictures again. I envy you :-) Hope you will enjoy the rest of your trip as much as the kilometres you already accomplished. All the best, stay healthy and keep up the good mood! I’m with you in my thoughts. Thanks for sharing everything with us. I know that it’s a lot of work. Christian

fathy und ruth

fathy und ruth’s avatar

salaam,wo seid ihr denn versackt?waren schon in ko ombo,mal n tempel angekiekt u wollten dann fathy s brueder,beduinen aus m sudan besuchen,die in der naehe n kamelmarkt abhalten.sie waren aber noch untwegs,vielleicht habt ihr sie ja getroffen.wir sind via luxor-dort trafen wir n bruder von der family,die ich vor jahren da kennenlernte zufaellig getroffen u sind abends zu ner verrueckten party mit lifegesaengen auf der westseite..zum wadi meluk(tal der koenige)sind wir in ermangelung eines autos mit dem polizeipraesidenten gereist u zurueck uff m karnak tempel hat fathy nochmal richtiges touristenfeeling bekommen bei ner light and musikshow.war anstrengend schoen.dann k(i)fft,dann k(o) s(i)r,n sehr angenehmer ort am roten meer.(Schreib die namen,wie sie gesprochen werden,denn ihr wisst ja,im arabischen gibts nur einen vokal,das Alif).man reist ganz unbehelligt von irgendwelchen convois oder polizisten im zug od. minibus.heute haben wirs nur bis hurgada geschafft.najamorgen nochmal n mammuttrip nach faiyum,suedlich cairos.da gibts suesswasserseen und es ist ein naturschutzgebiet.hoffen auf das beste.oasen mussten wir sausen lassen,da ruthi nich mehr so ville zeit,ihr beeden-sind ganz dolle neugierig auf eure sudan abendteuer.hoffen von euch zu lesen,bevor ruth wieder nach cold germany reist.als letztes noch ALLAH MAK-jott schuetze euch und habt gute zeiten bei den schwarzen bruedern.fathy und ruth

i know what you mean gideon when you talk about the egypt,
2 years ago i was on job in cairo and spend a full day at the airport getting my gear/lights out of the customs ….. i thought i get crazy.but cairo is a great experience on the other hand.
its always a pleasure to look in your blog and follow your tour.
good storys,well written guys
we dont want to miss itthe next months
my best

Louis van der Watt

Louis van der Watt’s avatar

Hei Gideon
Ek kan nie glo dat Afrika Noord vd Sahara erger as hier by ons kan wees nie! Maar ek se mos altyd traagheid is die wortel van alle kwaad…
Gaan julle nog steeds deur Rwanda? Ry liewer reg Suid- vergeet die ompad.
Ons is nou vlg week op pad Bloemies toe. Ek gaan weer al 3 kiddies Vrouemonument toe vat- hulle kan nie gou genoeg teen die Kakies gebreinspoel word nie.