Wooooo ! What a week it has been.
We found our way from the campsite in Venice to the ferry terminal without too much drama. Our itinerary said “WE MUST CHECK IN SIX HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE AT 10am”.. As always, the Italian ferry companies had f**ked this up as we couldn’t check on for quite a few hours later. So, as always we sat around and waited. Eventually, the ticket office opened up and in ONLY two hours, 30 passengers we checked on board. In fairness they did have to photocopy all our documents and deal with about six different nationalities. Waiting around is all part of the game.
We eventually were given the all clear and rolled on board. Carrying all of our gear up three decks and across the length of the ship in sweltering heat was soul destroying and smashing a bottle of “stashed” red wine just added to our misery. (Nice one Neil grrrrrrrrrr )
We settled in on board well, somehow fitting our entire luggage into a small bunked cabin. That cabin was our home for four days. Those four days were pretty dull and were spent reading, sunbathing, playing cards with the other overlanders on the ship and also cooking our meals. Now, using petrol stoves on the ship isn’t aloud so we just covered the smoke alarm and put the petrol stove in the shower. Although, I think half the ship knew our game as the smell of Tomato and Basil pasta flowing down the hall ways was a bit of a give away lol.
We settled in well, somehow fitting our entire luggage into a small bunked cabin. That cabin was our home for four days. We cooked our meals in the shower on the camp stoves as the 15 Euro meals were just too much for our budget, we munched away at muesli bars for breakfast and rationed out the booze sparingly..
We pulled into Alexandria at 2pm. The Egyptian officers came aboard and by 4pm we were off the ship and ushered next to a trailer cabin for the real mayhem to begin. We had to have our Carnets processed, Arabic number plates made, Egyptian driving licences produced and our luggage searched. This whole debacle took about four more hours and was an absolute mass of confusion and panic (and that was just the Egyptians).
We had arranged to ride with three other South Africans to a campsite that was meant to be 5km from the port. It was clearly marked on one of their GPS maps. Easy going for the first night in Egypt we thought.
It was about 8pm by the time we were cast into the dark, dirty chaotic streets of Alexandria. If you haven’t driven in Egypt, at night in one of the busiest, craziest cities then words just can’t do it justice. There is no order, no rules. People spill out into the street followed by their animals, cut throat taxi drivers live a life of no fear and all the time people trying to sell you things while you’re trying to stay alive. I thought I’d seen some crazy places in South America but Alex beats them all.
After riding around aimlessly we cut a deal with a local man to take us to a hotel. He drove at cut throat speed through the manic traffic with us all following throwing all of our “western” driving principles to the wind. He took us to expensive or crap hotels until we were rescued by a fluent speaking Egyptian guy called “Micky” who came over after seeing us in a state of tired confusion. . He got rid of the other schemer, got us into a decent hotel, arranged safe parking across the street and even insisted on spending the evening with us, taking us to his favourite fish restaurant and along the quayside of the city. Micky just happend to be a Colonel in the Egyptian Air Force and an F-16 pilot. You really can’t make this stuff up.
We left Alex this morning and battled the city to the highway and into Cairo where we are now. Again, we were lost in this massive, crazy city with only Arabic road signs. Luckily, a taxi driver pulled over and agreed to take us to a decent hotel and that’s where im writing this from.
Tomorrow we head into the city and try to obtain Visas for Ethiopia and Sudan.. !