115 km – desert camp to Aswan
Today was our last day riding in Egypt – hard to believe – but one of the best. It was an early morning start due to the dueling calls to prayer, so I was on the bike by 6:45 – in time to see the sun rise over the Nile. As we crossed over the river, the morning mist rose from the fields in an eerie fashion. It was just amazing. I rode solo for a bit until a semi-fast group caught up and I was literally swept up in the pack. It was a fast but fun 35 km but finally I couldn’t last. I dropped back but instantly picked up with Ryan and Adrian and then we picked up Team Grandpa a.k.a. Grumpy old Men a.k.a. the Old Farts (Rodney, Lindsey, and Andre). We rode together to lunch, through the dreaded 65-70km zone with the rock throwing kids (there were actually none out although I was armed with my whistle!), and into a cafe/chai stop on the side of the road. As my Italian riding group knows – I love a group that indulges my stops for cafe!!
Fully charged, we rolled along the Nile, admiring the fellucas (sailing boats). Ashraf, a member of the Egyptian town led us through town to our camp site and warm showers:) A quick refresh/change/set up tent and a group of us set out to explore the town. A few of the Egyptian riding team (Sharif, Mohammed, and Saleel – forgive the misspellings) joined us and it was great to have native speakers and hosts. They negotiated the ferry out to the botanical islands on Kitchener’s Island where there were the most beautiful trees and plants – a good change from the temples. I climbed out onto a rock outcrop and sat in silence with the wind admiring the water, birds, boats, and desert dunes. It was a blissful moment.
We toured on the Nile before returning to the town souk (market) to load up on fruit for our two day adventure crossing Lake Nasser. We ate local cuisine (I tried a bite of cow brain and liver but since I eat mostly vegetarian, no more than a bite) and sampled local drink of sahlab (yummm).
I had a fun interaction with a little boy hawking fake papyrus. He was 8 years old and asked me in 5 languages for a 1 egyptian pound for the paper. So, I started to talk to him in Italian and Spanish and turns out he only knows the numbers and basic vendor talk – but at 8 years old! I was impressed so in turn he taught me the numbers in Arabic from 0-100 (well, he said them and I repeated but I can only remember a couple of them now.) A very fun interaction though.
To try to answer some questions in people’s comments…
– Yes – I am feeling very strong on the bike. The first few days were REALLY tough, but I was amazed how yesterday and today it was nothing to ride the morning 60 or 70 km without stopping at all. And I felt good – no soreness!
– Yoga sessions continue and people are really pleased with the stretches and breathing. We do about 15 minutes before the evening rider meeting and before dinner. It is really lovely to practice with my fellow riders.
– Beer truck – yes, it does exist! I haven’t partaken but the local Egyptians that follow us sell beer from a cooler in the evenings. That will end tomorrow as we have ridden through Egypt and now enter into Sudan. I am not sure on connectivity there for the next 15 days so keep checking for more posts.
For pictures, go to the website Panos mentioned in the comments on Day 7 or go to the Tour d’Afrique website and check out other rider websites and blogs. I do hope to have pictures up sometime but now they are all on my camera. THANK YOU for the great comments and support. Please continue to write – I am reading them although I may not be giving personal responses.
Baci – KLR