After a week of being horizontal we headed off to Aswan to start the next leg of the trip. Along the way we stopped for somebody who had just written-off his car. From the state of the car we were expecting the worst, but the driver was sitting on the side of the road, clearly shaken, but fortunately with no visible injuries. He refused any help, almost as if he didn’t want to be a burden. All we were able to do was give him some water and have a quick game of pictionary at the next police check-point to explain to them that there was an accident down the road.

In Aswan we met Mohammed, our fixer for the ferry to Aswan. Imagine our surprise when the price we had been quoted in his email had gone up. The explanation we got was that we can give some money to customs to help them search our car. If they don’t have this extra bit of help then they have to do the job all by themselves, and maybe they decide that you should register all your kitchen knives or you have to prove to them that your spare tyre really is only full of air. Then suddenly it takes 3 days to search your car and in that time the ferry leaves and you have to stay for another week. We were also told that we could go on Thursday to put the car on the barge – “which is better because the barge is higher in the water so it is easier to drive on. It is also better because if your car is on the barge then you are guaranteed a place on the ferry.” After going past customs and having our car thoroughly searched (pointing to a water bottle and asking if it was for water) we found out that the barge would only be ready on Saturday and we would have to leave the car in the port – “which is better because then the barge can be loaded with other stuff first so your car won’t get damaged.”

This involved being moved from one office to the next, giving back our Egyptian number plates, having the carnet stamped and things written down in large official looking books, then waiting for the car to get signed in to stay in customs until Saturday (fee attached for storage etc). Fortunately all this was happening with typical African efficiency because we then found out that the barge was now ready – “which is better because now we don’t have to come back on Saturday”.

We wouldn’t have been the only overland vehicle stuck in customs. There was Land Rover from South Africa that had arrived on the ferry from Sudan. We didn’t understand the full story, but from what I understand, guy didn’t have money to get the car into Egypt at the time, said he was going to the bank and would be back in a bit, 7 years ago. Now the car sits, untouched.

We had originally been told that the whole process would take an hour or two. While we waited an Egyptian hour or two we met a Sudanese man who was sending some stuff back on the barge. Sudan is the one country our travel insurance refused to cover. Mention Sudan to somebody from South Africa or Europe and you get a funny look followed by an “Isn’t Sudan very dangerous?” When we told him we were from “Ganoob Africa” we got a funny look, followed by an “Isn’t South Africa very dangerous?” It transpires that Sudanese people are not dangerous, they are all happy, and the only thing dangerous about Sudan is the sun. He would also like to come to South Africa to buy a wife and two lions to take back to Sudan.

The barge that was ready actually wasn’t quite ready, so in the Egyptian hour or two we went and waited in some shade where I sat on a bed frame with a Sudanese barge crew member with my African phrase book and he tried to teach me some Arabic. Incredibly friendly guy. With the lesson over I got out my hammock and tied it to two poles in the shade for a snooze and got a thumbs up from him as he inspected my knots. High praise indeed!

When the barge was almost ready we drove the car down to load it on. There was just one more thing to be loaded onto another barge – a great big bloody steel sugar cane press with gears and motors etc, which was “carefully”pushed on, toppling onto other things, ripping other packages, knocking about 20 pots and pans into the water and then coming to a rest wedged between the barge and the bank. I always thought Afrikaans was the best language to use to shout and swear at people, but it sounds like a poem about love and ponies written in French when compared to Arabic.

We eventually drove the car onto a barge, extremely grateful that there were 20 people telling us what to do in Arabic with their own made-up hand gestures instead of just one guy because that is more helpful and far easier to understand.

“Park in the middle”
“Shouldn’t I park to the side in case another car comes?”

The barge captain came to us for some medical help because of terrible problems with his stomach. Fortunately we went on the hectic first aid course because after finding out that he had been to a wedding and eaten far too many pigeons over two days we had the knowledge to prescribe him some Rennies and he was much happier. Hopefully it helps with keeping the beast in one piece and above water.

Having left at 8:30 for an hour or two to get the car onto a barge we got back at 4:30. That evening we went to have supper at (please don’t judge us) McDonald’s before going for a walk in the bazaar, where I had a haircut. The guy gave me my first eyebrow trim ever and then did the hair plucking thing on my cheeks that ladies have done with a piece of cotton because they are sadists.

The next day we went to Elephantine island, a lovely place with Nubian houses and quiet dusty paths without the constant “Welcome to my shop, no charge for looking, welcome to Alaska, where you from? Ahhh South Africa, bafana bafana.” We were hijacked by a charming guy who lives on the island and calls himself Symbol because his red hair is “a symbol for the Nubian people”. He took us on a tour of the island for free because he “effing hates effing money and just wants to improve his English”. He then took us to his brother’s house for tea and before we knew it we had been sold a boat trip to the Nubian beach. I’m really glad we went though, because the scenery was beautiful, with king fishers flying around, lovely plants on the river bank, and even “magic trees” – masses of large Mimosas with leaves that fold when you touch them. My mom calls them “kaaitjie roer my nie” (kittie leave me alone) and they last for about a week before they die because kids keep touching them.

The Nubian beach is basically a riverbank where desert meets the river and people go for picnics and a goof in the Nile. While I swam Jules sat in the shade on the boat listening to the boat guy’s music (ranging from Egyptian music, to “got a pocket full of green and yellow faces to buy me some ho’s” rap to Lionel Ritchie). When we got back I started researching how to treat bilharzia before we headed out for supper (local food this time – by the end of this trip we will have stomachs made of cast iron. Township dogs will bow down before us as we drink Egyptian tap water, eat the salads and taunt the gods of gyppo guts). Symbol was hugely entertaining and a great laugh. I would definitely recommend trying to get hold of him if you ever come to Aswan. You can get hold of him at or 00201003598282.

I had foolishly shown an interest in a game of backgammon being played at a souvenir shop when we first arrived in Aswan, so having used up my “tomorrow’s” I sat down to learn Egyptian backgammon outside their shop. Halfway through the game water came out of a manhole cover near us and ungodly smells attacked the lining of my nose. My coach casually rolled the dice and kept playing, so I sucked it up and carried on. After a while I became numb to the smell, but that didnt stop me from gagging occasionally. Fortunately a honey-sucker arrived and the guy had to attend to his shop, sweeping rising “water” away from the entrance, so I made a hasty retreat, without any guilt about not going inside to buy a plastic camel.

The next day was going to be a quick trip to the ferry office with our fixer to buy our tickets, followed by some touristy things like going to see the unfinished obelisk. I’m not sure if you’re spotting any trends yet, but the office was closed so we had to wait for it to open. Do you remember how we were told that having a car on the barge guarantees us a ticket on the ferry? From our fixer: “you are very lucky – I managed to get you the last two tickets.” Do you also remember how it was better that we got the car on the barge on Thursday so we wouldn’t have to go back to the port on the Saturday? If you remember that then you probably also remember that we didn’t need to park to the side of the barge in case there was another car. You might be surprised to hear that we didn’t get to see the obelisk on the Saturday because I had to go back to the port to move the car so that another one could be driven on.

We also paid our fixer Mohammed his fee today and although he had quoted us in dollars he had told us that Egyptian pounds would be fine. For some reason he was annoyed when we paid him according to today’s official rate as seen on instead of the “black market” rate. I think all is good and we are still good friends because I said I would put his details on our site so that other people can use his services.

Mohammed’s details are on his website – He is a friendly guy and although the process seems quite disorganised I guess it is pretty typical and mostly out of his hands. He has been very helpful and responds to emails and phone calls quickly and when he gives you a time he is there at that time. He can also organise felucca trips on the Nile and excursions to Abu Simbel.

Jules and I have a new saying for things like this -”would you like a cup of TIA?” TIA is a TLA for “This Is Africa”. TLA is a TLA for “Three Letter Acronym”.

Jules is extremely lucky to be celebrating her birthday on the infamous barge from Aswan to Wadi Halfa tomorrow. 45 degree heat in the shade with flooding loos. She has also got a thoughtful gift from a loving romantic husband, a fan that plugs into the cigarette lighter. Sorry ladies, you had your chance about 10 years ago but you all blew it.

No pics I’m afraid – the laptop is in the car, on a barge, in the port, on a dam (or at least it was / they were last time we checked). Will upload some when we next get a chance, along with colourful descriptions of ferry loos and flies, and if you’re lucky a couple of pictures of those too.

Luxor to Red Sea

In Luxor we stayed at a campsite called Razeiky Camp. This is a hotel with a large garden / sandpit and as we sat nursing ice cold beers in the afternoon heat we were told grand stories of yesteryear by the manager (who reminds Jules of her dad, but for the sake of keeping wills intact no photo was taken), times when the garden was full with 20 cars at a time doing overland trips, the hotel was full of guests and the shop was open. Apart from some locals who had come to use the pool we were the only people there. The “overland” toilets weren’t pretty (coming from people who haven’t been on the Aswan ferry yet), but they opened one of the hotel rooms to let us use the ensuite bathroom. Nothing special, but clean enough.

Jules and I fixed the jammed diff lock, an easy job now that I know how, but one that requires removing the centre console and gear lever to get to a little springy pin that pops out of where it should be back into place. This takes about an hour or two to fix. I was reminded that men and women have a few differences when I started climbing under the car to detach the gear lever and was stopped by Jules because I was in my nice shorts and would dirty my t-shirt too.

Tourism in Egypt has been decimated since the revolution 2 years ago, and streets we expected to be full of people were empty. Huge car parks for sights such as the Valley of the Kings had about 3 bus loads of people while we were there, with space for 50. As we drove around the area we passed alabaster workshops where locals carve scarab beetles and other touristy things. Most of them were closed, as well as most of the shops. Last time we were in Egypt we were met by cocky cheerful souvenir salesmen, mainly using charm to sell their stuff, willing to haggle, but generally getting what they wanted for their wares. This time round we were met by desperate people. One old man nearly started crying when we didn’t buy his carved picture, even though he had done the haggling for us, starting at 50 pounds, ending at about 3 pounds. I never thought I would say this, but it was heart-breaking not being able to help souvenir salesmen.

Our aircon and fan haven’t worked since we arrived in France. Jules has created a poor man’s aircon, filling a spray bottle with water and keeping it in the fridge. A quick spray on the neck and arms works wonders. I’ve updated my wardrobe to include a beigy lime-green kandura (dishdash). This has cooled things down for me a bit in the car – I guess 100 million Arabs can’t be wrong. The problem is that wearing it has cooled things down for me a bit in the romance department as well if you know what I mean, nudge nudge wink wink, a nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat, know what I mean, know what I mean?

We left Luxor to go to the Red Sea for some diving, peppering the beast with runny tar as we went over a new stretch of road. This has resulted in me getting several bollockings, first for getting tar on my brand new kandura, then my swimming costume. We decided to skip the really touristy Hurghada, and are staying further south in a town called Safaga. It isn’t the most attractive town, but we were treated to some excellent snorkelling a bit further north in Soma Bay, walking on a 400m jetty from the beach to get to an amazing reef. Unfortunately that part of the bay is full of resorts that would break our daily budget significantly. We found a cheap but clean hotel called Orca Village in Safaga right next to a dive centre on the beach. They have space for camping, at 10 euro’s a night, but for 5 euro’s extra we opted for a spacious double bedroom with ensuite bathroom, aircon and patio right in front of the sea. For some reason nobody wears board shorts on the beach, so we have been treated to an eye-watering display of speedos. We were only going to be here for 2 nights and have a few dives, but the “urge to submerge” has been so strong that we decided to stay for a week. This is where we start trading in birthday futures and it looks like I’m getting my present for my 40th 7 years early.

The dive sites have been good, with spectacular drop-offs and beautiful coral boasting full of fish the Red Sea is famous for. When we were in Dahab 8 years ago there was a German guy who had built his own motorbike to do a trip down Africa. His first stop was the Red Sea and after a few dives he sold his bike and stayed. I can almost relate to that, although Jules and I are convinced there is a template for people who work at dive centres. Basically you end up with the same person in a different body each time with stories from when they were in Ko Pan Spam or equivalent place in the Far East and had dolphins and manta rays bringing them breakfast in bed each morning. You also get the arrogance that comes with them being “in the know” and able to catch the local mini bus taxis into town for the same price as “locals”.

I dived a wreck called the Salem Express, a ferry that sank in 1991 with about 1500 pilgrims on their way to Mecca. It was a spectacular dive, although a bit spooky knowing that about 400 people lost their lives when it sank.
Apologies for the somewhat boring post, but the past week has been more of a holiday than an adventure. Diving, snorkelling, reading, sleeping. Jules has been brave enough to risk being beaten up by playground bullies by reading a book from my eReader and I have been able to trade diving stories with people from the time I was in Kaplow and had turtles making me cups of tea.

From here we head to Aswan to catch a ferry to Sudan, a place with temperatures so high that you turn to religion to thank God for the invention of beer, only to discover that He has a slightly warped sense of humour because it is illegal there.

Police in the desert

As a student I had a Mini 1275 with a 34 litre fuel tank. Filling up a 90 litre gas guzzling 4×4 along with several 20 litre Jerry cans in Egypt 15 years later is considerably cheaper. In Cairo we paid 1.1 Egyptian Pounds per litre. I’ll let you do your own currency conversions and calculations, but if you’re too lazy it is cheaper than bottled water.

Initially we were trying to decide whether to scuba dive in the Red Sea or head out into the White Desert instead. In the end we have decided to do both. After hours of driving with desert around us we arrived in a town called Bawiti, looking for fuel to save me having to resort to one of two equally unappealing tasks – syphoning fuel from our jerry cans on the roof and getting a mouthful of diesel, or climbing onto the roofrack, unlocking the jerrys, lowering them down, climbing off the roofrack…

Unfortunately the famous Egyptian diesel shortage is a reality and we couldn’t find any. Somebody approached me and offered me a 20 litre jerry for 80 pounds, still cheap, but having got a taste of really cheap diesel after Europe, we held out. In Bawiti the beast was among family, with masses of Land Cruisers, young and mostly old driving around.
From there we headed into the Black and then White deserts, blown away by the sheer beauty of them both. I was like a kid at Christmas, desperate to go off-road for the first time since our 4×4 driving course, only to have my hopes dashed when the diff lock jammed in high range again. Because of this and the fact that we were on our own in the middle of nowhere we did some risk management and I behaved, staying away from where the big boys play. I still managed to get stuck once, but letting the tyres down solved the problem and we went to find a place to wild camp. The White Desert has got to be one of the most spectacular places we have ever been to, and that night we were treated to one of the best night skies I have ever seen, lucky enough to have a new moon. If only we hadn’t been such fools and had brought along some beer or even a Coke. Idiots!!! While we were preparing supper a guy came past us with about 4 camels, gave us a wave and carried on into the desert as the sun was setting.

When justifying the expense of shoes, my philosophy has always been to work out how much it costs each time I’ve worn them. If a pair costs £60 then the first time you wear them has cost you £60 and you are an idiot. The next time you put them on you are immediately down to £30 per use and things are looking up. On our way to Farafra the next morning we came across a guy who had broken down in the desert. Currently the cost of using our booster cables makes us idiots, but next time it will be halved! In Farafra we managed to find diesel and then spent the rest of the day going from one oasis town to the next, being greeted by friendly waves and hoots wherever we went. Careful not to make the same mistake as the day before I went into a shop to buy some cokes (5 Egyptian Pounds for a 330ml can or 5 Egyptian Pounds for a 1 litre bottle). Fortunately only 1 of the 4 bottles I bought was Sira Cola, made in Egypt, with almost identical logos and branding, a similar initial taste followed by an aftertaste of cough medicine and bile.

In hindsight having a section in our blog about brain farts was a bit foolish as it implies there will be more. Arriving at a village in one of the oases to see an ancient Roman tomb I had a brain fart. Needless to say we didn’t get to see the tomb. It was probably rubbish anyway. More about this to follow.

From there we drove to a town called Al-Kharga to find a place to camp for the night. Along the way we got 1 use closer to justifying the expense of our snatch strap, towing a broken-down police van full of policemen for 50km from the middle of nowhere in the desert to the town. The thermometer in the beast said 44 at one point. When we finally arrived at the town I got a bit of man love from the police chief as he hugged me and kissed my shoulders several times, then shook hands, then had photos, then swapped phone numbers, then more hugs and kisses on the shoulders.

That night we found a place to camp behind a large sand / rock dune at the end of a road that might / might not be being built. While we were here we paid homage to our Portuguese friends in the UK and had a wartmelshpiepspietcompteesh (watermelon pip spitting competition) which Jules won. Speaking of which, watermelon is a rubbish fruit. It is too big, there are too many pips, juice leaks all over you and you get sticky. You wrongly remember that it was really tasty and refreshing the last time you had it and are sorely disappointed as you gag your way through each piece. Jules on the other hand loves it, but agrees that there is too much, so although I win the argument, I still have to eat the watermelon we bought earlier.

We got a phone call from the police chief asking / telling us to come round to the police station the next morning which we dutifully did. There I got more hugs and kisses, Jules had her photo taken with him and one of his subordinates gave us his breakfast and drink, leaving himself with nothing to eat for his shift out in the desert for the rest of the day, but refusing to take no for an answer. We at least managed to get him to accept a packet of biscuits we got in Turkey (I won’t write about how we didn’t really like the biscuits because they have a funny taste and are so dry you need a cup of water to help you swallow them because then we would sound like arseholes). They were on the brink of escorting us all the way to Luxor when I managed to get out of this by telling them we needed to get some diesel before we could go. They then all push-started their now working(ish) police van and we had a police escort to take us from one service station to the next until we found our diesel, using his siren every now and then so that we could jump the red lights. That might sound grand, but jumping red lights isn’t such a big thing in Egypt – you get hooted at if you don’t.

Port Said to Cairo

Egypt has a lot of mosquitoes. You would think the author would have warned us about this when he wrote about all the other plagues in the Old Testament. When we finally left Hotel De La Post the room looked like a murder scene with splotches of blood all over the place after four nights of gruesome attacks and counter attacks. No sign of the mouse again, but Jules managed to squash two cockroaches with her shoes. In the hospitality industry Hotel De La Post would be a “Johnny No-Stars” (a Johnny No-Stars is a guy who works at McDonalds. The stars are based on how many times his picture has been on the “Employee-of-the-Month” wall). At least it was cheap and we had hot showers.

With our bags back and the two of us now vigilant, seasoned travellers, we went through the process of getting our car out of customs. This involved walking down busy streets dodging piles of dead fish and other litter as we followed various members of Eslam our fixer’s gang of lackeys. We entered a run-down building opposite the port to get our bill-of-lading documents and receipts. We had to do this several times, going up an old lift without proper doors that had a verse from the Koran playing each time it was used. Once this was eventually done, Jules disappeared to sort out the rest of the paperwork with the fixer as the car is in her name. I was left waiting in a coffee shop and started wondering if we had been a part of some big scam and now not only had I lost the car and the money for getting it out of customs, but also my wife. Jules arrived back a bit later with Eslam and the car. He took me to one side and told me that everything had been sorted, but there was a bit of a problem in the region of 400 Egyptian Pounds that had to be paid on top of all the other cash to get the car out without it being stripped and having each item individually inspected. I responded with a “but we don’t have anything to hide”, and he followed this up with a “they would have found something and made things very difficult with us so I made the problem go away, and now because we are such good friends I am willing to pay half of this so that we can remain good friends” – or something to that effect.

While we were in Port Said we spent quite a bit of time in a restaurant called Popoyo with pictures of Popeye all over the place as it had wifi and was quite cheap. We spent some time looking for things to do in Port Said, but the best we could find was “go to Cairo”, so once we had the car back, that is exactly what we did.

The road to Cairo was in relatively good condition and although it wasn’t too busy, we still ended up with terrible squints as we tried to keep tabs on people overtaking from the left, right, driving towards us on the wrong side of the road, stopping, pulling in front of us, the odd unmarked speed bump, potholes etc etc. Then we somehow made it to level 2 and arrived in Cairo. Fortunately we didn’t have to do much town driving, as there is a ring road that goes around the outskirts of the city. The place we were looking for was about 2km from the pyramids, so we also had a relatively well-known landmark to lookout for. When we were in Egypt about 8 years ago and were driven around everywhere we got the impression that the pyramids were between Cairo and the desert, with sand dunes and desert stretching out past them into the distance. In our naivety we didn’t realise that this particular desert is only about 1 or 2km of sand and behind it is Dreamland amusement park. I hope I haven’t spoiled the illusion for anybody else reading this!

We have been staying at a place called Ibis Garden Camp, run by a couple Sue and Halal. Effectively you get to park your car in their driveway and then get the use of their garden which includes a sparkling blue swimming pool. They live on the 6th floor which is mostly a covered patio with plants and a view of the pyramids. Getting here meant driving through roads covered in litter alongside pools of rancid green water breeding millions of super-powered mosquitos that think Tabard is a tasty garnish for your arms and legs. Although quite expensive (100 Egyptian Pounds per person per night) they have been really hospitable, and helped organise us a driver (Walid, great guy) to get to the embassies to sort out our Sudanese visas. We’ve also been blessed with target practice for our electric bug zapping tennis racket, which has become a veteran with more mosquito kills than there are numbers. As mentioned earlier, Tabard is absolutely useless over here, but we’ve been told about a spray a lot better called “Off”, which works brilliantly. I guess there wasn’t space on the spray can for the first part of the brand name.

We arrived in Cairo over a long weekend, so had to wait to sort out our visas. In this time we took the beast to get its photo taken with a pyramid, visited the Egyptian Museum, the Citadel and Coptic Cairo, as well as the pyramids and tombs at Saqqara (a must see, and only about 15km from the guest house). The Coptic part of Cairo had some incredibly old churches and we were shown around one of them for free, something that left us speechless as everywhere else you can’t fart without somebody asking for baksheesh.

“Welcome to Egypt” is the first thing you hear when you meet somebody in a touristy place over here. To the uninitiated this seemingly innocuous comment is extremely dangerous and should be handled with care. “Thank you” immediately puts you on the back foot because the “You’re Welcome” you get back means you now owe him something in return. You can’t ignore the guy because that would be rude. Effectively you’re screwed. Fortunately we’ve been here before and have become slightly wiser, so when the guy at the Saqqara Tombs shows you his keys and pretends they are the keys that will open special doors to never before seen sights, I was able to avoid him by showing him our car keys and saying “don’t worry, I have my own keys”. We loved watching other tourists with their little arsenals of tricks to try and make their way past souvenir salesman, unofficial official tour guides and camel rides, some succeeding, but most failing hopelessly and ending up with the same plastic pyramids, wooden camels and all sorts of other crap we ended up with last time we were here.

While being taken around Cairo Walid took us to get some Egyptian food for lunch, treating us to Koshery, Foul and Falafels, which were all very tasty dishes. At Saqqara I was also happy to find loads of Bee-Eaters that had made their homes in a sandy slope next to the museum.

To get the Sudanese visa you need a letter from your embassy, so off we went and while we were waiting in the queue for the South African embassy to open Jules forgot where we were and announced loudly to me in Afrikaans “Ek wil ‘n nommer twee he” (I need to have a number two). We were greeted by a friendly guy called James who gave us the quote of the trip so far – “If you think you can, then you can, but if you think you can’t, then that expectation of failure alone will lead to failure”. Fortunately we thought we could, and managed to leave with a letter on the same day. Other than having to wait a day to get our Sudanese visas this was a relatively painless, although costly procedure (745 Egyptian Pounds or $100 each).

We are currently in Luxor, having spent a couple of days in the desert. More on this soon(ish).

Turkey to Egypt

Two posts in one day? A public holiday in Egypt with a car stuck in customs allows for these little lucky breaks. We arrived at Iskenderun on the Friday to buy our ferry tickets. These were bought through an agent for Sisa shipping, Remon Travel. Tickets weren’t cheap – $180 each and another $590 for the car. We spent a lot of time waiting to find out when the ferry was leaving – either Saturday or Sunday. Saturday was spent lying on some grass reading our books while we waited. We were told on Saturday evening to be at the agency at 9:30 the next morning. We spent 2 nights at a strange campsite (Palmera camping) on the outskirts of the town with no showers, so got to wash our bums and front bums on the beach in front of the fishermen with our own shower. On the second night we were invited to dinner with 3 Turkish friends who had gone there to do some fishing and have a barbeque. We were treated to lamb chops, steak and a delicious Turkish salad laced with chilis (we always seem to eat chilis before a long journey!). The evening was spent communicating via google translate, and they attempted to teach us some Turkish dancing. We also got to sample a Turkish version of Ouzo. With the odd exception, the Turkish have been the most hospitable, helpful and friendly people we have met in all our travels.

On the Sunday we arrived at the travel agency to find out what time the boat was leaving and were greeted by hundreds of Syrian refugees, fleeing the fighting for Egypt and Saudi Arabia, loading bags on old rusty red trucks. It reminded me of the opening chapters to the Grapes of Wrath, and Jules and I both became quite emotional seeing it all.
We spent the rest of the day in a compound with the Syrians and Turkish truck drivers, waiting for the ferry to be ready. With no understanding of Turkish and our passports disappearing to various corners of the port, sorting out papers for the car, scorching sun and dirty loos, this wasn’t a highlight of the trip.

On the ferry we couldn’t walk two metres without somebody calling us over to introduce themselves and ask us where we were from. I got to play backgammon with a couple of Turkish truck drivers for a few hours, Jules broke a personal record and read a whole book in 1 day with time to spare, and we got to meet some of the Syrian refugees, finding them to be incredibly kind and in good spirits, despite all the horrors they are currently going through. Towards the end of our journey we were shown some horrific videos on a phone by a hair dresser turned freedom fighter. They were extremely graphic, including a video of his dead brother. He was on his way to deliver them to various news agencies. Jules and I both found this extremely upsetting, and where we normally would have moaned about things like boredom on a 27 hour long ferry trip and dirty loos, I guess we both found a bit of perspective.

Sleep deprived we finally arrived in Port Said at about 10:30pm and were greeted by police in riot gear in case things got out of hand. We met our fixer Eslam Elshamaa (his details are – Tel 002 0128 9220 002, email We left the car with various other cars and trucks in a garage in the port after a search by customs and at around midnight we went by taxi through crazy streets full of hooting cars and people shopping with little children to our cheapest hotel yet (Hotel De La Post, at 95 Egyptian Pounds (about £9) a night. We were greeted by a mouse at the top of our stairs and cockroach in our basin, and plenty of mosquitos popping in to say hello throughout the night.

The next morning while waiting to be picked up to sort out the car we met two other groups of travellers, waiting for the ferry back to Turkey. have travelled from all this way from South Africa in just over 1 month in their Hillman Imp), and who have travelled pretty much the whole world in a 1960’s Beetle. It was great to meet you all, even if it was only for a few minutes.

We threw caution to the wind and left our hotel with our bags, naively thinking we could get our car out in a day. We spent the morning being moved from one place to the next by Eslam as he wheeled and dealed his way around the city. On our way back to the hotel he put our bags on the roofrack of a taxi and as we were about to get in the taxi it raced off into the distance with our bags, never to be seen again. Fortunately Eslam had the presence of mind to take down the licence plate and after a couple of hours in the police station we got a call to say the guy had been caught and our bags had been recovered. How they found him in a city of taxis we will never know! This has been a pretty hectic couple of days and after the morning’s escapades, we were really glad to come back to our hotel room, which suddenly seemed quite appealing!

Welcome to Africa!!!

Due to today being a public holiday, with any luck we should have the car on Thursday (Inshallah), to head out to Cairo for the next leg of visa admin (Sudanese visas) and crazy city driving.