Sunday, November 4, 2012

3: Sliding south Al Minya : Egypt

Evening light over the White Nile in El Minya the provincial capital splitting upper and lower Egypt
Standard junction chaos in Magaga 

Dwarfed by loaded truck
From Bani Sueff the morning call to prayer got us up along with the progressive sound of traffic, horns and shouting until the maximum noise level is achieved then the day is underway. We headed on following a canal running parallel through lower Egypt to the Nile heading through various villages and towns. We always attract attention and the day is a constant barrage of friendly shouts, 'Meeester Meeester' 'Welcome Egypt' and the odd 'Money Money'. The day is punctuated with various tea stops to escape the heat which at around midday can be around and over 40 degrees which makes the black tarmac red hot and the tyres squeak along it.
We passed through one large town which we thought may offer a bed for the night but as it turned out there was nothing and so back to the saddle to try Magaga which is where we found a bed although not before the Police got us. I have heard lots of stories about the police creating a convoy with any cyclists. I had hoped that after the uprising this may have changed but it has not. We where waived over by the police just out side the town of Magaga for a passport check initially but it soon become clear that they would be with us. What ensued must have been the slowest police chase ever. There concern is not for internal security but ours which is nice that they are thinking that way but is a nuisance, especially given that the people seem very friendly. We cycled on from the checkpoint at our normal pace aiming for Magaga with a pick and 5 officers driving behind us! Occasionally another pick up would arrive from further ahead and the shift change would occur. They where is good spirits and always keen to help. On arrival in Maggaga we found digs with there help in what felt like someone flat but it did say hotel. A night out saw us at a wedding and also a couple of bars although there is no beer in this area it did feel like a more Western venue you can walk around town with a certain degree of confidence in town with a man who has a gun down his pants.

An early start and we where off heading towards Al Minya security forces in tow. Al Minya sits on the Nile as the provincial capital splitting upper and lower Egypt. A big place which has a far more relaxed and slightly more modern feel to it. The old river boats moored along the river edge make great cafes looking out across to the Eastern hill with Egrets (like a mini Heron) fish along side. We made it here in good time and will be having a rest day before the big day tomorrow to Assyut.

Police convey trying to work out where we wanted to stay in Al Minya 

Run and jump is the way to cross the road here !