There is something so wonderful about getting rid of the grit of the Nubian desert. Not that swimming in the Red Sea wasn't a good quick fix, but you can pretty much float sitting up in the water, which tells you how salty it is.
We're in Safaga right now. We've been passing through the desert with the Red Sea to the left and mountain ranges to our right. Today we saw a few trees. Everything is mustard coloured. It's amazing how rich a colour can look after you see nothing but yellow for a few days. The people on the trip are great, the Egyptians - well, we haven't had much contact. Nobody lives in the desert. We hear a lot of "Salaam Habibi"s from the workers we pass. They are building a resort complex by the Sea. Correction... they are building about 30 resort complexes. That's all we passed on day two. Day one was brutal. 165km, all against the wind.
But let me start at the beginning. Sherif took me out with some of his friends - they were these two awesome women - one Egyptian and one Serbian. We went to old Cairo and saw the mesjids - the new correct word in English for Mosque. They are the biggest Mesjids in Cairo. It was so different from Malaysia, where there is no way a "heathen" as they called us, would be allowed into a Mesjid. We then scampered over to the night market. The aroma of cooking food mixed with the sights of coloured glass, shishas, textiles, and about any imaginable Egyptian trinket you could think of... it was so fun to walk through. We went to a coffee shop and had tea. I love Egyptian tea - straight black tea with a sprig of mint thrown in, a bunch of sugar - all in a gold embellished glass. Sherif bought us all scarab bracelets from one of the market kids. He then got my hand henna-ed by a Sudanese girl (in Sudan the henna is black). With swift, soft brush strokes, my hand was covered in a beautiful floral line, from finger tip to just past my wrist. After a tasty falafel sandwich (boy are we not getting the right stuff back home), a view of Cairo from the highest hill at night, and a quick end of the night tea, I crashed at midnight, only to get up at 5:30 the next day.
We packed up and rode in convoy to the Pyramids of Giza. Starting there, we rode all the way out of town. We picked up a few members of the Cairo Cycling club, who are going to ride with us to Ashwan ( where we head off to Sudan). The ride was horrific - head winds the whole way. My knees were toast. I used some of Rob's massage oil, some anti-inflammatory, but still the next day I was in rough shape.
The next day we were riding with the wind. Suddenly everything was wonderful. Except my knee. I went 70 of the 130 km, and then hit the truck - it was swollen and popping. I started with the racers and we drafted each other for thirty km, at which point I bailed because of the pain. I rode the rest of the way to the lunch truck and readjusted my seat until if finally felt better, but I had pretty much killed it for the day. We camped out a fair hike from the sea, but man was it worth it.
The following day was more of the same, tail winds and beautiful. We rode 135km in less than 6 hours. I started with the racers and got some amazing shots with my camera set-up (which seems to have everyone interested). After about 40 km I tailed off - I don't understand how they don't go pee. But then we all caught up again at lunch.
I made a terrible discovery. I was trying to remember where my degreaser was. I remembered decanting it into something. Suddenly a flurry of connections sped through my head, and I said aloud " Oh Shit!"
I had decanted it into an old iron supplement bottle - then forgot to mark it. I remember thinking to myself how nice it was that my supplement didn't have that hideous caramel flavouring anymore. Also, when I mixed it in with my vitamin C and shook it up, it foamed up. Up until then I had just stirred it. And suddenly my morning and evening toilet races were making a lot more sense. Thank God I buy the biodgradable, not too filled with harsh chemicals kind of degreaser. Sadly, between the person beside me who I told about my realization, and the nurse, everyone knows about my little incident.
And I bet you were all worried about people with machine guns killing me! Hah!
Today was only 100km. We are here for the night, and then it's 154km uphill with (Inshe Allah) the wind at our backs. Then we have a 99km ride into Luxor, and you'll get to hear from me again. The weather is like a Vancouver summer. I'm clean and well fed. My biggest worry is keeping all of my stuff meticulously organized. Life is wonderful.