A Brief Pause

Please excuse the delay in our story as we’re busy writing the rest and exploring new places in Africa. We’ll post more adventures as soon as we can.

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Aswan Part XI, Hotel Living

April 15-August 2, 2014

I’d always wondered what it would be like to live in a hotel, but the Noorhan was not exactly the type of hotel I had in mind. With a private bathroom, a fairly large room and pleasant enough staff, the Noorhan became our home for the three and a half months we spent in Aswan.

This hotel became home for three and a half months.

This hotel became home for three and a half months.

Scott has always been fastidious and I thought he would freak out when we saw a cockroach climbing up our wall the first night we slept there. He just grabbed my sandal and smacked it as hard as he could. In the first few weeks, we killed over twenty roaches, from tiny, tiny ones to some that were a few inches long. After that, we didn’t see any more roaches.
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Aswan Part X, Mixing Cultures

April 15-August 2, 2014

Michele was heading back the same way we were after Scott’s birthday dinner, but would have to walk towards town for a little ways to be able to pick up public transportation. There shouldn’t be any problem walking around alone after dark, but we figured it would be smarter to walk with Michele to where she’d pick up her minibus. It wasn’t a far walk and it was pleasant to be out in the cooler night air.

We saw lots of night scapes in Aswan since lots of socializing happened after dark.

We saw lots of night scapes in Aswan since lots of socializing happened after dark.

Just as we arrived at the bus stop, I heard someone calling, “Michele, Michele!” I looked around, but all I could see were women in black abayas (a shapeless, long dress worn over regular clothes). One of the black clad women came up and grabbed Michele’s arm. I wasn’t quite sure what to think until she started talking in American accented English.
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Aswan Part IX, Life Continues

April 15-August 2, 2014

We’d already extended our Egyptian visas once in Alexandria, but as my Sudanese visa problems dragged on, we realized we’d have to extend them again. The police/immigration building in Aswan was like entering a fortress. There’d been a lot of violence against the police and military after the second revolution, including attacks on government buildings.

Locals enjoy cruising the Nile too, but usually on motorboats.

Locals enjoy cruising the Nile too, but usually on motorboats.

An extra wall had been built around the entrance and tanks were stationed at either end. The first time we saw this it was a little disconcerting, but after so long in Aswan we were used to walking by the tanks and machine guns. After all this external protection, passing through security was surprisingly easy.
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Aswan Part VIII, The French Connection

April 15-August 2, 2014

At dinner one night at Pam and John’s, John asked if one of us could do them a small favor. Their neighbor, Francois, was a fan of assembling model cars. John’s father had been so impressed with Francois’ collection that he’d sent a vintage model car for Francois. The only problem was that John didn’t speak French and Francois, from Switzerland, didn’t speak English.

Francois and his model cars.

Francois and his model cars.

I volunteered for the task. Francois lived a short walk away. He seemed delighted to have someone to speak French with again. We presented him with the model car and he invited us in for a drink. Still in the middle of our evening at Pam and John’s, we couldn’t stay. There was enough time for him to show me his collection of cars.
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Aswan Part VII, We Make Friends

April 15-August 2, 2014

We related our continuing visa problems one night while drinking lemonades on the corniche with Michele and Nanette. Michele had already put us in contact with Ahmed and this time she had another idea. In Australia, Michele had worked as a hairdresser. Occasionally she would cut hair for some of the local expats. Recently, she’d cut Pam’s hair. Pam and her husband John are Americans who had recently relocated to Aswan after spending some years living in Khartoum. Perhaps Pam knew something we could do.

Pam, John and Aria.

Pam, John and Aria.

I sent Pam a text message. She replied and suggested we meet at the McDonalds at the end of the week. We later learned that she’d suggested it as a prominent landmark, not realizing how long we’d been in Aswan by that time.
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Aswan Part VI, Our Visa Problems Continue

April 15-August 2, 2014

After coming to a dead end with the Sudanese lawyer, the local fixer and a fixer in Sudan, we weren’t sure what to do. We had another friend of a friend who knew someone in Sudan, so we figured we’d see if he could help us out.

Here we are again.

Here we are again.

Abdu wrote back to my emails right away. It turned out he knew someone in the ministry, so this looked promising. I emailed a copy of my passport and we hoped that this time things would work out. Essentially, Abdu’s ministry contact wanted a hefty bribe, about 350 USD. It didn’t seem like we had any other options so we agreed.
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Aswan Part V, Sailing On The Nile

April 15-August 2, 2014

Just next to our fruit stand was a small grocery store that despite its size was one of the better stocked shops in Aswan. It was convenient so we found ourselves shopping there often. Tourism was down in Egypt and had been for quite some time. I always waved and said hello to any other foreigner we saw.

Nanette was the first foreigner we met in Aswan.

Nanette was the first foreigner we met in Aswan.

We were buying snacks one night at our grocery store when we saw another foreigner. After smiling at each other a few times, Nanette struck up a conversation with us. Originally from Australia by way of the UK, she’d been living in Aswan for the past year. We’d only been in Aswan for a few weeks by then and Nanette was the first of a number of ex-pats we would go on to meet.
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Aswan Part IV, A Disappointing Friend

April 15-August 2, 2014

Since we seemed to have some time on our hands we decided to see if we could find a replacement for our gas cannisters. We wandered up and down the souk, stopping to ask at every hardware store or any store that looked like it might have what we needed.

Spending time at Matta's store.

Spending time at Matta’s store.

The shopkeepers were always helpful, even when they inevitably didn’t have what we needed. In that case they would send us to another store where they thought we might find what we were looking for. The last time we’d seen gas cannisters was in Cairo and it wouldn’t be until Kenya that we’d see them again.
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Aswan Part III, We Settle In

April 15-August 2, 2014

As we began to realize that the visa situation wouldn’t be resolved quickly, we started to settle in to Aswan life. Aswan is a big city with about half a million people living there but it felt much more like a small town. The town is centered around the Nile, a small strip of green in the desert. Most of the commerce is downtown but housing settlements stretch far back into the sand.

The busy souk at night.

The busy souk at night.

Our hotel was close to the beginning of the souk. Walking to places was easy. We quickly developed the habit of going out only in the morning and late afternoon. Already hot when we arrived, the days only got hotter. If the official temperature goes above 50°c the government workers get sent home. The government never reported anything above 49°c, even though it was often rumored to be higher.
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