Aswan Part II, Visa Problems

April 15-August 2, 2014

When we learned that I needed someone to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum, we first thought, “No problem.” We knew somebody in Sudan, this should be easy.

We spent a lot of time in this building.

We spent a lot of time in this building.

A friend of a friend had a Sudanese co-worker who is based in Khartoum. When we asked if he’d be willing to help us out, he answered right away that he could help. Even better, he is a prominent lawyer. Again, we thought this would be easy.
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Aswan Part I, Goodbye Nico And Julia

April 15-August 2, 2014

Nico and Julia explained to us that we should go to the ferry office and reserve tickets before applying for our Sudanese visas. We couldn’t buy them until we had the visas, but if we didn’t reserve, the ferry might be sold out.

The new mosque in Aswan.

The new mosque in Aswan.

Everything I’d read about getting a Sudanese visa made it seem like a pretty easy process. Our first morning in Aswan, we reserved our ferry tickets and cycled down to the consulate. We signed in, waited a little while and were sent upstairs for our visa applications.
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An Easy Ride

April 13-14, 2014

Leaving Luxor, it was a change to be riding through green areas again. We’d been so used to riding through desert and sand that we hadn’t realized how much we’d missed seeing plants. The road passed close to the Nile, so it was cooler too. It was a treat to hear the breeze rustling in the palm trees. Everything felt green and lush.

Bringing their sugarcane to the depot.

Bringing their sugarcane to the depot.

Shortly outside of Luxor we stopped in a small village for foul. Local schoolboys were curious about us and tried to cluster around our table. Everytime they got too close though, they were shooed away by the old men at the table next to us. We noticed this all throughout Egypt. Anytime children approached us an adult would always intervene to send them away.
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Historical Valley

April 9-12, 2014

My previous experience with Luxor hadn’t been positive. The town was overrun with touts and it felt like everyone was trying to take advantage of me in some way, from hotel prices to restaurants. In fact, I disliked it so much that I left earlier than planned. With less tourists in Egypt these days, I was expecting the situation in Luxor to be worse.

We were dwarfed by these massive pillars in Karnak.

We were dwarfed by these massive pillars in Karnak.

I was pleasantly surprised. One of the workers in the hotel took us for falafel near the train station. It was a small stand that was only set up at night. They were open for as long as they had falafel. Once they ran out, they closed shop. After the first night, we went back a few times. There was always a long line and it was always delicious.
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We See Green Again

April 6-8, 2014

It took a long time to leave Kharga. The development stretched out for at least 50 kilometers after the center of the town. We tried to guess where we thought Nico and Julia had spent the night and wondered if we would see them that day.

Big dunes along the road.

Big dunes along the road.

We had our first sign of Nico and Julia at the turn-off towards Luxor. There was a police checkpoint and a few hundred meters further down the road was an army checkpoint. The soliders, friendly as always, offered us tea and gave us a note from Nico and Julia. They had been there only an hour or two before us.
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The Desert Continues

April 3-5, 2014

Al Qasr was the first and smallest of the three towns that made up the Dakhla oasis and as we left we passed through the others. These villages were larger and more developed and we were happy that we had stayed in the smaller, more relaxed Al Qasr.

Are we really that close to home?

Are we really that close to home?

We stopped at a busy looking food stand on our way into Mut. To our surprise and delight, on offer were a sort of fruit calzones. Fresh dough was filled with apples, shredded coconut, sugar and spices. It was baked in a pizza oven and eaten hot. Delicious. It was a perfect snack.
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An Old City

April 1-2, 2014

The Dakhla oasis is really composed of three separate towns. We’d decided to stay in the first one, Al Qasr. It was the oldest and we’d both heard of a good and cheap hotel that was supposed to include breakfast and dinner in the room rate.

The old mosque in Al Qasr

The old mosque in Al Qasr

We pulled into town and found the hotel. It was hard to believe the building we were standing in front of was the same one we’d been looking for. The owner was a little rude and the place was a dump. A unanimous decision was made to leave.
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We Set Off Together

March 30-31, 2014

Breakfast at the Rahala Hotel in Farafra was, again, amazing. More and more food kept arriving and we ate until we were stuffed. The night before we’d decided that the four of us would leave together. Scott and I were looking forward to having riding partners again.

Thanks to Nico for this great photo of us.

Thanks to Nico for this great photo of us.

We set out together, sharing stories of the road. Nico and Julia had gone to some remote places and we enjoyed hearing their stories of rural Mongolia especially, one of their favorite countries so far.
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Riding Partners

March 28-29, 2014

In the morning, we packed up and I tried as hard as I could to convince Scott to walk further into the park to try to find ‘the chicken’. He wasn’t interested. We started heading towards the entrance and it seemed much longer and more difficult than coming in.

Taking a rest under a rare bit of shade.

Taking a rest under a rare bit of shade.

My shoes were filling up with sand, so I took them off and walked barefoot on the hot ground. Scott was able to ride a few sections, but I find it more tiring to get on and off the bike, so I just kept pushing. Only about six kilometers to the entrance, we were in need of a break when we got there.
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The White Desert

March 26-27, 2014

We packed up and got ready to leave Ahmed safari camp and Bawiti. The word oasis had a new meaning for us and although we were excited to see more of the desert we were sad to leave this place. Wilhem gave us a warm farwell and made us promise to keep him updated of our progress and to eventually come visit him in the Netherlands once we returned to Paris. Karen sent us off with a large can of dates from the trees right next door.

The strong winds carved these beautiful formations.

The strong winds carved these beautiful formations.

Before heading towards the White Desert, we made a quick stop in town to pick up last minute supplies. We stocked up on some fruit and vegetables for that night and bought some falafel. For a few pounds, we left with 40 small falafel balls. This and a salad would be our dinner.
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