Police escort

Police escort

The ferry ride across the Red Sea from Aqaba to Nuweiba went smoothly. Still on the ship I got an entry stamp in my passport. With quite a sleep deprivation, I got on the pedals at sunrise and drove 10km further north to the Saraya Beach Camp in Tarabin. There I was able to set up my tent right on the beach. Last month, a Russian passenger plane crashed in northern Sinai. Most airlines have canceled their flights to Sharm el-Sheikh. This is devastating for tourism here on the Red Sea in southern Sinai. I saw in the two days that I spent in Tarabin not a single tourist.

Due to the new elections held in Egypt at the beginning of December, the situation is currently tense in the whole country. My goal was originally to take the ferry from Sharm el-Sheikh to Hurghada. However, this connection has not existed for some time. Actually, there is also a road across the peninsula. However, this is blocked for foreigners. From other cyclists I heard that you are escorted while driving around the Sinai for the most part by the police. I really did not feel like it.

After changing my tires at Saraya Camp and recovering for two days, I drove to Dahab early in the morning. The landscape here is unique and the Egyptians, in contrast to the Jordanians, understand how to build mountain roads. Only the headwind and a plate 15km from Dahab made me a bit hard. In Dahab, I quartered myself at Seven Heaven Hostel. There I met Soheir and Alois. They spend the winter here in Egypt for some time. I was invited by them several times for dinner and then with Alois I went on a snorkel trip. The underwater world here is really fantastic.

The freewheel of my rear hub has been spinning for some time not really. Fortunately, I was able to mail with Tom from Veloladen Leuthold veloladen-leuthold.ch try to fix the problem. His help was simply worth gold. The result could be shown. Thank you Tom!

On the third day I actually wanted to take the bus to Cairo. In the morning I bought a ticket at the counter and paid another surcharge for my bike. When I came back in the evening, the driver then did not want to invite my bike. The bike with luggage would take too much space. I tried to make some solutions. The driver, however, was getting louder and properly agresiv. Discussing did not make sense. So I tried to get my money back. Also without success.

Furious, I left the damned bus station. Fortunately, Alois and the owner of Seven Heaven helped me find an alternative the next day. In Egypt, as in Jordan. only licensed cars carry tourists. Hatem, the son of the owner wanted, the next day to visit his family in Cairo and offered me for $ 200.- dollars with him in the minibus to go by. Since I had no choice, I agreed. I would like to thank Soheir and Alois for their hospitality and help.

In Cairo I found a pretty dirty dump. Hygiene is a foreign word in many accommodations in Egypt. Finding a clean, affordable bed with a bathroom (where the shower works) is almost a miracle.

Cairo is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world. Cairo has 7.9 million inhabitants in the administrative city area (2008) and the metropolitan area is the largest in Africa, with about 16.2 million inhabitants (2009) off Lagos in Nigeria. In Egypt, however, there is no obligation to register, which is why the indicated population figures are extrapolations based on the census results. Unofficial estimates put up to 25 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, which would account for almost one-third of Egypt's total population.

At the Mogamma I tried to extend my visa. Computers are not yet available at the Egyptian authorities. Everything has to be completed by hand and takes its time accordingly. After two days, I had extended my visa to three months.

From Cairo, I actually wanted to drive west through the White and Black Desert. However, Peter Wirth (a German hotel owner and tour operator in Bahariya) told me that the entire western desert is currently closed to foreigners. So only two variants remained open: either through the Eastern Desert (via Hurghada to Luxor) or along the Nile Valley.

I had already crossed part of the eastern desert on the bus from Dahab to Cairo. I wanted to spare myself this wasteland. Along the Nile Valley, the security situation should not be so easy and you will certainly escorted as a cyclist. With a queasy feeling in my stomach I started the next day.

The conditions here would be just fantastic. For the first time on my journey flat stretches with beautiful landscapes and tailwind at its best. The first night I spent under police protection in a Coptic church in Beni Suef.

Copts are an ethnic-religious group, with which today usually the members of the Coptic churches are called. Originally, the term referred to those inhabitants of Alexandria and of all Egypt who used as their idiom the Egyptian language. In Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic times, the word was used without regard to religious affiliation. Since the increasing Arabization and Islamization of Egypt, the term is used solely for the Christians of the Coptic churches.

Already after a few kilometers the next day my cycling adventure ended in Egypt. At the first checkpoint, I had to load my bike and luggage onto a police pickup truck. I was escorted to Luxor for two days. Most of the time, after 20km I had to reload all my luggage with my bike in another vehicle. A tire went to nothing, my leather saddle was completely scratched and the frame had been scratched in some places.

In Luxor I tried to recover for a few days. Here, too, tourism has fallen sharply. People are really trying to sell something energetically. Egyptian helpfulness should always be considered skeptical. Nevertheless, I came in contact with some very nice people. My favorite meal here is the Fallafel sandwich. Good, cheap and vegetarian.

From Luxor I was allowed to ride 60km alone again until the police stopped me again and escorted me to Aswan. The process is always exactly the same. One can think of the procedure as something like this:

Four policemen mostly accompanied me on the vehicle. Since all of the guys are called Mohammed, Achmed, or Achmud, I gave them names of their own.

Dull cheeks and moon face usually sat in the back of my luggage in the back of the truck. Dumpfbacke is usually the only one with a weapon (Kalashnikov). Moonface speaks two to three words of English and plays the entertainer whenever I'm allowed to sit behind.

Kamikaze steers the vehicle through the area at breakneck speed.

Halitosis is the highest ranked official and often stinks quite out of the mouth (it is apparently promoted by the Egyptian police to this criterion). I was allowed to squeeze between the two boys.

If one of the policemen spoke a little English, a few interesting conversations also started. Someone once wanted to know if you can actually live in Switzerland as an unmarried couple together. Yes, of course! That seemed to be beyond his imagination. Too bad, I could have given him other things.

The country life here I find enormously fascinating. Everything that has wheels, hooves or feet is on the streets. Even the smallest pants shit drives with any motorized vehicle through the area.

In Aswan I found an idyllic spot on the western side of the Nile (in the Nubian village) at Adam's Home Overland Camp where I could pitch my tent. Only the dogs made a huge Radau in the night. Mo, who speaks English very well, helped me without many things in return. Such people are very rare in Egypt. A great person! At his home I could also stop my bike and luggage for some time.

The train is now back to Cairo, where my mother comes to visit me over the New Year and I can recover a little from the hardships.