We were obliged to join yet another police convoy from Luxor to Aswan, so we fronted up at a car park to join the tourist buses and minibuses and a few private travellers like us very early in the morning. We were not as big a convoy, only about 50 vehicles, as the one from Hurgarda to Luxor which numbered in the hundreds. We were the last in the convoy so had the police truck right behind us. When they felt we weren't going fast enough they would speed up and sit about a metre off our tail. Other times they would drop right back. Sometimes they disappeared altogether, and then suddenly we would look behind and there they would be, riding our tail again and blasting their siren.
Once in Aswan, fun and games again. The hotel we were to stay at had sold our rooms - plenty of room tomorrow night, just not tonight. So Debs and Theimo went off to find rooms. A few streets away (and closer to town) we got them, only not with parking and the trucks had to stay on the street. This not too much of an issue in Egypt - while the Egyptians can't help but try and hustle4 your money out of you, they apparently don't steal. Our trucks, all with quite a bit of gear on the roof racks were completely untouched for the time they were parked there.
Saturday, then; big day for the registered drivers - paperwork day. All those with Egyptian licences (the males of our party) had to go off to some little office to get the cars out of the country. This meant stamps in passports, hand in Egyptian licences, hand in Egyptian plates and so on. This process started at 9am in the aforementioned office. But guess what. The only man who could do this wasn't there and after several houurs it was clear he wasn't going to be there. Without all the relevant paperwork and stamps (must have the right stamps...), the cars couldn't be loaded onto the barge and sent on their way to Sudan. Debs and Thiemeo spent frantic hours trying to raise people, talking to their local agent, trying to get things under way. The next day we had to leave it up to them as Fred and ourselves had booked a trip to Abu Simbel.
Abu Simbel is amazing. It comprises the temples of Ramses II and of his wifeNefatari which were moved bock by block before the waters of lake Nasser would cover them. An incredible feat of engineering, and if you look closely you can see the joins! Even the mountain face was moved and reassembled. But the journey there and back was something else. A 3am start from the hotel where we were picked up by a minbus which then had to wait in the police compound till 4.30am when, you guessed it, we had to join an armed police escot the 280kms there. Our minbus had a diff whine to deafen you and Russ wondered when we would just break down in the desert and start walking. And of course the journey was at full speed, travelling about 2 metres behind the huge coach in front - slipstreaming - and with all the vehicles vying to get to the front andovertaking in the most awful places, crests, blind curves, you name it. Par for the course - we should be used to it by now!
When we got back the cars had finally been loaded onto the barge and all paperwork done. Debs and Thiemo looked visibly relieved.
Our final adventure for the group in Egypt was a wonderful afternoon, sailing aong the Nile on a felucca. Peaceful, quiet, and relaxing for all of us. After being dropped off on the opposite bank to Aswan proper,we made our way to a local Nubian house for tea and dinner. We stepped inside a coutryarded, sand-floored house to meet the family, were offered tea and allowed to have a look around. Then the mats came out, we sat on the floor and we were served chicken, salads, rice ad soups. All of it was excellent. Rather than leave a tip, we opted to buy some goods from them that they had for sale - handmade jewelery, hats, scarves etc. Jenny, Linda and I decided to also have a tattoo, something we had been talking about. So I now have an Eye of Horus on my left arm.
This will be the last blog I can put up for at least a week as we are off to the port on Lake Nassar this afternoon to board the passenger ferry for Wadi Halfa in the Sudan. We will be driving across the Nubian Desert (no roads) and bush camping until we get to Khartoum.
PS Mum, it's not a real tattoo - it's henna.