|Posted on December 15, 2008 at 10:20 AM|
December 15, 2008
Dahab (Egypt) - Cairo (Egypt) Final destination for 2008.
Cheers to a succesfull 100 days and 6706 km of life changing experiences!
We arrived in Cairo after some crazy experiences on the Sinai Peninsula.
From the warm and friendly village of Dahab, we rode through the desert mountains. We passed few bedouin settlements where children came running to the road to ask us for food. After a day in the heat, 120 km later and after 1000 m denivelation, we arrived to Sharm el Sheikh. Sharm was quite a contrast from what we saw during the day. It has a place with only big 4 and 5 star resorts and casinos. It looks like a typical tourist only beach resort town (We didn't see many locals here). Incapable of making our way through on time before sunset, we had to stay in a hotel were we were not very welcome as independent travellers. Our bicycles seemed to be a real problem for them.
Remember the hotel we stayed at the port in Nuweiba? The one where we pitched our tent on top of the hotel bed since we were attacked by hords of mosquitos?? Since that night, Philippe has had dozens of extremely itchy and hard big bumps showing up all over his body, accompanied by a light fever. We were more and more worried as this continued for the next days. Wondering what was going on and what it was that was going on underneath his skin. We stopped in a pharmacy in Sharm el Sheikh where we were told it was an allergy to bug bites. We were almost convinced it wasn't, but decided to try the medicine anyways. Thankfully with the time the bumps did get smaller.
Happy to leave the surreal town of Sharm el Sheikh, we headed back in the desert on our way to El Tur. The road was now going across a flat desert along the shore of the Red sea. There was absolutely no trace of any kind of life in this sandy area. Not even one tree or shrub and no Bedouin either. We found it very monotone. We started to notice that the sea breeze we had in the morning was now growing stronger and stronger and our speed dropping. By noon the wind dropped our speed to 10km/h only, despite our great efforts. Also Leandra's rear bearing was loose and grinding. Since El tur was 120 km (and the first village) away from Sharm el Sheikh, we started to worry a bit if we could make it there, since we really needed more water in order to camp. By the end of the afternoon we were completely exhausted and still were 35 km away from town. The wind not giving us a break. Thankfully some bedouins stopped to check on us and offered us a ride to El Tur.
Once arrived in El Tur it took us a long time to find a place to camp since the desert here was under Military surveillance.
The next day as we came across just another checkpoint, they asked for our passports as usual. The guy in charge was suspicious about our intentions. The nearby canal of Suez is under tight military security. Therefore the officer decided (after checking our passports several times) to let us go through, but only if escorted by a noisy police pick up with heavily armed soldiers inside. For hours they have been following us and going no further than a meter behind us. We were frustrated. How do you go to the toilet in the desert with these people watching you constantly? And where is the peace if you have a constant noise in your ears, loud enough to make it impossible to talk? We were sure that if we would camp, they would camp with us and then follow us again tomorrow, that was not acceptable for us.
We cycled 120 km that day and were still 2 days away from Suez city (El Suweis). Looking at the current situation we realized that our only way out was to hitch a ride to get out of this annoying and ridiculous situation. Without advising the police, we decided to stop the first truck we saw. The cops waited with us until a pickup stopped to give us a ride to Suez city. The police had to pass some phone calls to other officers and gave us an OK to take the ride, they seemed relieved with our decision (so were we) so they didn't have to follow us until who knows where.
As we went through the tunnel underneath the Suez Channel, we left Asia behind us and now entered the African continent.
We spent the night in Suez and decided to cycle the last 150 km to Cairo in 2 days because of the wind conditions. It was quite a boring ride on a busy road, crossing the flat monotone desert in the interior of Egypt. The area was so flat that we had a hard time to find a quiet discrete spot for our last campsite of this trip. We waited for dark to sneak away in the desert and go pitch our tent in one of the many trenches dug for army tanks. We decided to wake up at 4.30 am and go as soon as possible to make sure we would be gone before sunset.
We arrived to the outskirts of Cairo and found ourselves in thick smog and pretty challenging traffic. People driving very fast, and driving as if they were alone in the streets. Philippe almost got driven over by a bus. We found the downtown and a place to stay.
We arranged a tour to the Pyramids for the next day, the landmark of the end of this cycling trip.
In 100 days we have travelled through 14 different countries. We have set foot on 3 different continents. We have dipped our hands in 5 different seas. We have seen many different cultures. We have seen many breathtaking landscapes. We have cycled through many mountain ranges. We have had only 5 days of rain. We went way over our expectations of this trip, in many ways.
We will fly to France tonight, where we will spend our Christmas and New year's with family.