Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Leaving Egypt

It has been weird walking around Aswan. Four years ago, when I was here, this place was a booming tourist town. Tourists were everywhere in the streets, hotels were being built to house the many people coming to see the most beautiful section of the Nile River.

Today I spent my last day walking through a town, built with tourist money, but lacking any tourists. The place seems to be falling apart now. Nile front stores are empty, some even burned to the ground. The felucca captains line the main road, offering extremely cheap felucca rides. A desperation in their eyes, that hard times, has given them. Even the building with McDonald's, is dying.

I am catching a ferry later today with the group to Sudan. The land border is closed between Egypt and Sudan. So the only, way to get into Sudan is taking the ferry across Lake Nasser, from Aswan to Wadi Halfa. The ferry leaves once every week and lasts about twenty four hours. Anybody who wants to overland from Cairo to southern Africa, must take this ferry.

The group I have been with has had a hard time getting their Sudan Visa's but at the last minute they got them. I had no problem getting mine, but I had to spend a lot of money, getting a local in Khartoum to send me the right letter of invitation and have the right connection in Cairo to give me a visa to visit.

Like most African modes of transportation, I am expecting the worst with the Sudan ferry. I've heard some horror, stories by how dirty the toilets are and how many peolpe pack onto it. If it departs today and gets me to Sudan sometime tomorrow I will be happy.

Our truck driver had to leave a week ago to get the truck there, in time for us to not have to wait for it when this ferry arrives.   The town of Wafi Halfa, can't support much tourism.  Any beds that you can find to stay overnight in are usually more like a jail cell.     From a few cell phone conversations, from our captain who is surviving on mushy tomato sandwiches,   he said their was a small riot as people waited to board the ferry, since tickets ran out, so people started throwing rocks at the police and tried storming the ferry. It's all part of the adventure of traveling across the continent of Africa.

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