Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Egypt complete : Aswan

Not a great deal lies on the road West of the Nile 

Out on the gravel road south of Idfu en route to Aswan

The desert shot around Idfu district 

Setting out from the comfort of Luxor we picked up the road south aiming for Idfu. The rest and and refuel gave us just what we needed making the 114km seem to roll by easily. I think as far as the cycling has been in Egypt today was easily one of the best. Leaving the busier areas further north the air was much cleaner and the roads much quieter. The terrain was also very nice with lush green on one side of the road and in stark contrast the Eastern Desert on the left stretching off in a bleak rocky set of hills and ravines. This desert stretches out to the Red Sea beyond. I am assuming and feel free to email that the Sahara is split between the Western Desert which stretches out to Morocco and Mauritania and the West coast and is then split by the White Nile giving the Eastern desert out the Eastern Coast.
Pulling over to rest for a bit along the palm fringed banks of the Nile early on I looked into the Nile and decided now was the time. The river is pretty dirty the further you go North but here it seemed clearish. Down to pants and in I went. Warm water some odd reeds floating around and although the crocodiles are the other side of the dam now it does make you jump when touch something. The current though is pretty strong and makes swimming up river hard work.  A couple of bemused fisherman where there who at first seemed surprised a white man in his pants came out the bushes and got in the river.  We continued on making Idfu for around 2 just as the heat was kicking in. The green is now shrinking to the Niles banks and the road weaves around the desert.

A cooling dip in the Nile between Luxor and Idfu

Nubian man
Leaving Idfu we headed out along the left  east bank where we made our way through a crumbling road and into the desert scenery. Dan popped a puncture shortly after hitting the rough stuff and after a little way ended up in the back of a pick up until we headed over the Aswan bridge and cycled down to Aswan. And that brought an end to Egypt after cycling for two weeks we arrived at the southern end. Its been a superb trip thus far getting a real glimpse into Egyptian life post revaluation  Its certainly suffering from a lack of tourism and this is in part due to the uprising seen not long ago. Also it revolves around the mistrust of the west against North African countries and the Middle East. If you roll into any town or village down the length of Egypt then you will receive a million hello’s and smiles, in Luxor we where invited into the mosque to have a look around and see what was going on. This is not the actions that you would believe if you where to follow the news and movie industry and government advice. If you vilify people of a particular faith then eventually you will create the consequences you fear most. If you drop bombs on people then you should expect to get bigger bombs thrown back at you. Essentially if you have a culture of fear which villifys an ethnic group who live in countries which have it tough then you will end up creating great resentment which can have severe consequences. If you greet people with a smile and ask how they are they will do the same in return.  In the more remote areas in the south we received tea and sandwiches and also fruit and drinks for nothing as people where happy to see new faces. Come to Egypt and get the tourism up and running again and to experience it don't get on the air con coaches walk around and use public transport or even ride a bike.
We are relaxing today in Aswan before catching the train to Cairo tomorrow and then its on to Nairobi at the weekend and the cycle continues. A good relax in Aswan although a moments worry when a rush of excitement hit me on a boat out in the Nile and with a moments lapse of judgement I jumped headlong off the front of the boat and the strong current washed be back under the boat, all good though and just a cut on the hand from grabbing the rudder as it rushed passed.

The sun sets on southern Egypt with a Felucia on the Nile