Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Day 87: Hurghada, Marsa Alam, Aswan, 660km. 9 hours. 26-37°

The moment we rode out the hotel gates we were in arid desert.
We rode through desert for 9 hours today..
A few puddles and sand across the road were evidence of the last vestiges  of the deluge.

The first stage through Al Quesair to  Marsa Alam was more or less along the Red Sea coast.
Straight roads for 290km with glimpses of the turquoise sea and many resorts.
We briefly stopped for fuel and water at Marsa Alam and  turned inland toward Idfu and Aswan. 
After 75km or so we had another binary choice. 
Go straight ahead to Idfu or turn left and ride through the desert directly to Aswan.
Let's turn left.

Shortly after we turned left I spotted a tree growing in the barren desert. 
How deep its roots must be. I had been praying for my friend Liz at that moment so this is Liz's tree.
There is life even in the most difficult of times. 

Dick stops in a hurry... some camels are crossing the road. Camouflaged. Skinny, too. Near miss.
Goats indicate there are some people somewhere near. 
So do big plastic water tanks on the road side. 
My gaze follows tracks into the desert and there are shelters in the distance. Water delivered  at the road side.

The road is mostly in good condition but Dick is always on alert for potholes where the tar seal has been damaged by heat and traffic.
We encounter some patches of find sand on the road, too. Rain had fallen on a small 10km area. We could see puddles in the otherwise parched landscape. 

We stopped every hour and drank our fill of water and then back on the road.
The temperature rose, and rose to 37°. The highest temperature  since we arrived in Egypt.
There was very little traffic - maybe 15 vehicles in both directions for the whole 315km. 
I am not anxious. 
I know I am not alone even in these isolated places.

At the provincial  border we are delayed for half an hour while the border guards took our passports and checked by telephone with their superiors about whether we could enter Aswan. I don't think we would be turning back if they declined. As always in Egypt  everyone was very pleasant. I am glad we have google translate on hand to explain where we are riding. 
Next thing they are wanting to take photos of the bike with us. I feel free to do the same.

We ride through the back entrance of Aswan just as the sun is setting. The buildings have a golden hue.
People wave, we feel welcome.

I feel even more welcome when we arrive at our Aswan home, The Old Cataract Hotel.
A grand historical hotel built in 1899 and home to many interesting guests including Agatha Christie who wrote Death on the Nile after she spent a winter here. 
Dick was very glad to arrive - some days the ride is more demanding than others.  This was one of those days.

We know we will be here for at least a couple of days because we need to obtain visas for Sudan and Dick has to get a statutory clearance for offence free riding before we go to the border. 
After two full days riding in the desert this is a lovely place to rest.

Heading on to the road at the start of the day.

Desert village.

Remains if the rain.

Some of these mangoes were as big as footballs! At the place where we  stopped for a cup of tea - with mint. 

Al Quesair. 

Freight trucks.


At a security stop. Note the rope attached to the spikes...

On the road to Idfu.

Liz's tree.

A hungry camel.

Mountain ranges to the south.

Water tanks - rural delivery.

Wet sand in the middle of 'nowhere'.

Sun crazed roads, some hidden potholes.

Time for a break.

The sun is low in the sky from around 3.30pm

Long straight roads with the occasional lazy bend.

At the provincial border crossing.

Huge granite rocks. There must be quarries in the desert. 

Entry to Aswan.

A friendly wave as we wend our way through the back streets.

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