Friday, January 30, 2009

Life on De-Nile

Through hazy eyes I looked out on the mists covering the rice patty fields, incense trees peeking out from the blue grey. We had just had a breakfast of falafel on Pita with tabouleh, then another pita with fool - cooked spiced beas, and a third with braised eggplant. I traded my eggplant. This morning was beautiful. I dusted off my tent from the soccer field which we camped in, threw my bag onto the temporary truck (our other two convoy trucks are headed early to the ferry as it can take them anywhere up to 48 hours to make the 6 hour crossing), and rode off. We raced till noon. I lead the pack for most of the day. Having taken a large part of the wind, I fell out of the real competition on the last, and most important 10km dash. Travelling along the Nile is the most beautiful thing. to our left is the desert. People in houses made of stone so crumbly that it is hard to differentiate from the mortar. On the right, the agriculture and the river. The contrast is so incredibly astounding. And there are the children. Yesterday one of the little bastards got me. "Hello, Hello" is fine, but throw a rock my way and I start to question why birthcontrol isn't more prevalent in this country. At least in the Sudan there won't be the sugarcane for them to hit us with. We left Luxor. I tried and failed to get a telephone working. So no calls home for my first month here. I tried and failed to pictures uploaded - though a friend has given me a tip - I'll be getting my shots onto Picassa when we get into Addis. At Luxor I went to Karnak, ancient Thebes. You can see the temples all you want in films, but ;nothing prepares you for their actual size. Touching the walls was a tremendous experience. You can feel the age and the sacred worship that took place there. You can also feel the life of the slaves in the rock. I was both bewildered and saddened. The running dialogue told us about "sweet Hatshepsoot", who ordered the might obelisk to be carved of granite and transported to Karnak. Given the lives it cost, I can hardly imagine her as sweet. But all in all, one of the most amazing sites I have seen. Even more impressive than the pyramids, though I don' t know why. We rode the next day to Idfu, which is where we stayed in the soccer field. I had a bit of a crap day, though a crap day of biking in Africa is a better day than anywhere else (except perhaps in the arms of a loved one). I woke up and the water that they had used to clean the trucks had slowly formed a very large mudpuddle leading right up to my tent. A few soakers and some messy gear later, and i was on my way. Things went smoothly, until I hit a nail about the size of my pinky. one tire change later, and I was off and riding with Craig, a nice fellow from England - banker who has stopped working to bike around the world. We chatted all day (I'm trying to have long chats with everyone, one at a time). We had lunch on a sandy beach by the Nile. The rest of the day was a breeze, other than being stoned by a small child with a big grin. At the soccer statium i felt the first of the harshness of the Egyptian sun. I was so exhausted by the mere heat of it all - I headed off with the twins (two south Africans who had been friends since grade 4), for tea, and then came back to repack my bag - there is nothing more annoying than working out the perfect system, only to have to rework it because we're crossing into the Sudan. I had a long conversation with one of the Egyptian riders - about the love of his life, his religion, and the wonderful taste of sugarcanes - peel off the outer reed and chew the sugar out - wonderful. I have a driving desire to learn Arabic when I get back. Sorry if I'm not responding to all of the shorter emails - I love receiving them, I just get barely anytime with the web, and because our restdays are so short, we all try to max out on sightseeing time. But do send your hellos. It's nice to hear that someone is out there. Oh, and to kill a rumour - I was not hit by a truck - when I said I hit the truck, I meant it figuratively, like hitting the books. I sat on it bacause of the pain in my knees, which is gone now. Right now we're in Aswan - where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile. The Cataract hotel where she wrote it is closed for Reno. To bad. I would have loved to have a G&T there. I guess cafe on the Nile will have to do. Don't feel like I'm too spoiled though - once we enter the Sudan all comforts go out the window. I only hope I brought enough toilet paper.
Big Love,

No comments: