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.
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.
We rested in the shade under a rock formation and Scott wrote his name with little black pebbles. Farafra was only 35 kilometers away and if we hurried, we could arrive around lunch time.
Just after the police checkpoint at the beginning of the town there was a museum. We had lots of time so we stopped to check it out. The caretakers had to open it just for us as there weren’t a lot of tourists these days. Sponsored by an Italian organization, the small exposition told about the history and life of the desert. Just before leaving the caretakers offered us mint tea.
We had to find somewhere to sleep. There was a nice looking place next to the museum, but it appeared to be abandoned. Besides this one, it appeared there were only four other hotels in town. It was early so we visited all of them. Two were resorts and far out of our price range, even when the dropped their prices a little bit. One, although it was cheap, was a real dive.
The last one was a new and welcoming family-run place. The owner told us they’d just opened the hotel because they wanted to get their tour company into the guidebooks. The company was founded by his father and they’d been working in the White Desert for decades, but without a hotel, it was difficult to get listed in the guidebooks. Anyway, the price included breakfast and we were sold.
Our phone started ringing and when we saw that it was the police from the checkpoint at the White Desert, we decided not to answer. Communicating face to face when neither of you speaks the other’s language is difficult, but it’s nearly impossible over the phone. We learned later on that Nico and Julia had just arrived there. The policemen were so excited about this news that they wanted to share it with us!
Farafra is a much smaller town than Bawiti. In fact, Bawiti was an oasis composed of a few towns. In Farafra there was the main road and not much else. It is famous for a local artist who opened up a museum to show his art. We hoped to visit it the next day.
We enjoyed falafel for dinner that night. The restaurant was a tiny spot with enough space for three tables, a counter and a falafel grinder. The falafel patties were handformed by a man who took a lot of pride and care in making his product. They were fried fresh and served with pickles, bread, salad, fried eggplant and foul. All of this for only a few pounds. We ate until we were stuffed, every time we finished a plate, we were offered more.
We’d already planned to stay the next day in town, but when we recieved a message from Nico and Julia saying that they were only a few kilometers away, it was a done deal. We had a lazy breakfast while waiting for them to arrive.
We were expecting a simple breakfast of foul, bread and maybe some jam. A huge metal tray was brought out, covered in various dishes and more arrived from the kitchen window. There was foul and bread, but also halva–a sesame sweet, cheese plates, jam, fresh fruits and vegetables. It was a true feast and we stuffed ourselves.
That day we’d hoped to visit the museum in town, but when Nico and Julia arrived we got so busy talking to them that the day quickly passed. We agreed that we’d leave together the next morning. How exciting to have new riding partners again!
As we were telling them about needing a new stove, the hotel owners overheard us. Kindly, they offered us an old gas stove they had with a refillable cannister. It was a little broken, but if we were interested, they offered to fix it for us. Well, it would have been a nice solution except it was a big as one of our panniers and twice as heavy. We couldn’t imagine riding around with this strapped to our bikes. We thanked them, but politely declined.
We took Nico and Julia out to the same falafel place for dinner that night. They were just as impressed as we’d been.
March 28-29, 2014: 62.67 km (Total km: 8426.06 km)