Aswan, Egipte

The farmer on the right spent a sweet water melon for us to eat.

Aswan, Egipte

Ek het twee warm dae se ry agter die rug.

Gisteroggend is ek vroeg weg uit Minya en na meer as 9 uur se ry op klein landboupaadjies (agricultural roads) het ek vroegaand na meer as 440 km op Luxor aangekom. Dit was bloedig warm. Ek was so dors en uitgedroog dat ek binne die eerste uur vier liter water uitgedrink het. Wie onthou nog daardie gevoel van koue water wat in jou keel afloop terwyl die hitte buite alles verbrand? Dit het gevoel of ek nie kon ophou water drink nie. Vanoggend is ek vroeg weg uit Luxor en het so teen half een op Aswan aangekom.

Die landboupaadjies was interessant. Dikwels was dit skaars een voertuig breedte. Langs die paadjie het al die landbougewasse wat die kleinboere aanbou, geil gegroei. Dit het van vrugte soos piesangs en mango’s tot mielies en lusern gewissel. Die hele Nylstrook is een reuse oasegordel. Buite hierdie groen gordel lê die ongenaakbare woestyn.

Die KLR is perfek vir hierdie klein paadjies en lae spoed gebou. Dit het uur na uur die kilometers opgevreet, oor spoedhobbels gevlieg, stadig tussen vragmotors en donkies aangekruie sonder om een keer te oorverhit. As mens na die grootte van sy verkoeler kyk, het die fiets eintlik ‘n reuse verkoeler. Dit was gister perfek in die hitte. Wat die ry nog warmer gemaak het, was die wind van agter wat vir baie minder koel lug oor die verkoeler gesorg het.

Hier ry die manne soos mal goed. Dis glad nie ongewoon nie om verby te steek nie al kom daar ‘n voertuig van voor. Ek het twee tonele afgeneem waar die verbysteek ‘n bietjie skeef geloop het.

Die huisies langs die pad is bruin en opmekaar en dikwels van modderstene gebou. Ek het dikwels geverfde buitebande gesien wat as versiering aan balkonnetjies gehang het. Die tuintjies is klein, vuil, vol van alles wat oortollig en onnodig is. Dis ‘n platteland van manne wat langs die pad sit en tee drink terwyl hulle waterpyp rook, en die vroue sien mens net as hulle met die vuil wasgoed of skottelgoed oor die paadjie na die vuil kanaalwater toe stap om dit te gaan was.

Die indrukke van wat mens sien as jy so deur honderde klein dorpies ry, is so oorweldigend dat as ek saans sit en dink aan wat ek alles gesien het, sukkel ek om alles te herroep en orden. Egipte is ‘n oorweldigende mengsel van kleur, klank en koes vir aankomende verkeer.

Een insident wat gister gebeur het, wil ek noem. Ek het in Asyut, die derde grootste stad in Egipte, die pad ‘n bietjie byster geraak. ‘n Motor het langs my ingekom en die bestuurder het gewys ek moes hom volg. Hy het my deur die mal verkeer tot oor die Nyl aan die oosoewer gebring en toe onder ‘n koelteboom gestop, langs die waatlemoenstalletjie van ‘n kleinboer.

Die Samaritaan was ‘n filosofie onderwyser en het elf jaar laas met ‘n Westerling gepraat, die tipiese gevoel van baie Moslems na die oorlog in Irak en Afghanistan. Daar, onder die bome langs die pad, het ons twee as Afrikane gepraat en het hy sy gemoed oopgemaak oor die hoekom en waarom. Ons het later twee botteltjies koeldrank gekoop. Die kleinboer het die proppe met sy tande oopgemaak! Ek het tot in my siel geril! Die kleinboer het later tee aangebied en een van sy waatlemoene oopgesny. Ons drie Afrikane het om stukke stroopsoet, bloedrooi waatlemoenstukke ons eie VN gehou. Africa our Home.

Die filosoof het iets interessants genoem. Geen Westerling behoort die roete van Asyut suidwaarts sonder beskerming te ry nie. Dit het my bygeval dat die oggend in Minya ‘n groepie Britste studente se bussie deur ‘n polisie-eskort kom haal is. Toe ek verder gery het, moes ek elke paar kilometer by ‘n polisieversperring gestop het. Weerskante van die pad was skiettorings met AK-lope wat uitgesteek het.

Dikwels moet ‘n mens naïef wees om onbekommerd te kan reis.

Vrydag is dit die Moslem Sondag en is alles toe. Saterdag en Sondag moet ek al die doeane papierwerk vir die KLR se uitvoer afhandel, en Maandagmiddag vertrek die ferry Soedan toe. Daar kom tans baie gerugte uit Soedan dat na die verkiesing die dinge nie so heeltemaal glad loop nie. Dit sal interessant wees om die realiteit te gaan ervaar.

Een van die boodskappe wat ek gekry het na die foto’s oor die skoolbesoek het hierdie ongelooflike sin in gehad na aanleiding van een van die spreuke: “Klink asof die kinders se harte tussen hul ore sit.” Dink ‘n bietjie mooi oor hierdie sin. Is dit nie ‘n ongelooflik dat met min woorde so baie gesê word nie? Ek bewonder mense wat met sulke talente ‘n taal omkeer en lewendig hou.

Na al die spanning met die nuwe paspoort en Soedanvisum het ek en daardie paspoort se weë (hopenlik) tydelik geskei. Ek vertel later wat  gebeur het.

Groete!

(English)

The last two days were very hot riding days.

I left Minya yesterday morning quite early and after more than 9 hours and 440 km of riding on small agricultural roads I reached Luxor early evening. It was scorching hot! I was quite dehydrated and drank within the first hour 4 l of water. Can you still remember that feeling when you feel the cold water running down your throat while your body is feverish hot? What a feeling!

I left Luxor quite early this morning and arrived in Aswan about 12:30.

The agricultural roads were fun to ride. Often it was wide enough for only one vehicle. Next to the road were the crops of the farmers. It grew in abundance, like in paradise. Fruit like mangoes and bananas and corn and lupine were cultivated on every inch available. The whole Nile valley is one huge oasis with the unforgiving desert on both sides stretching out endlessly.

Those kind of roads suited the KLR. It is built for low speed cruising and swerving and flying over the speed bumps and the sudden change of the road surface. With the huge boxes it was easy to dominate my little space against swerving trucks and taxi’s and tuk-tuk’s. Even in those high temperatures the heat gauge of the KLR stayed on normal. If you have a KLR have a look at its radiator. It is a huge radiator if you compare that to the size of the engine. The last three days there was constantly a tail wind which caused the bike to run a bit warmer than under normal conditions. On the bike I could feel how hot it was when the wind was blowing directly from behind.

Here in Egypt many drivers are driving like lunatics. It is normal to pass another vehicle even if you can see the white of the eyes of the driver of the oncoming vehicle. It was like playing chicken. Who would be the chicken that swerve back first?  The result was two accidents where I got interesting footage.

The houses in the villages through which I rode were interesting. They were standing directly next to each other and often built from mud bricks. A few balconies had painted tires hanging down as decoration. The gardens were small, filled to capacity with rubble and other dirt. It is a country where so many men sitting next to the road, drinking their tea, smoking their water pipes. One sees the women only when they cross the road with dirty laundry or dishes, on their way to wash it in the dirty water of the Nile canal.

At night I try to put together all the impressions of what I’ve seen during the day’s ride. It is very difficult. All the impressions come together in a huge explosion of colour and sound and the ever-present hooting of the traffic.

I had an experience yesterday that I had to put on the list of 2010 memories. I lost my way in Asyut, the third biggest city in Egypt. A car slowed down next to me and the driver waved that I had to follow him. I decided to take the chance. He guided me through the mad traffic with sign boards only in Arabic. I followed him across the bridge across the Nile to the eastern bank of the river. There he stopped in the shade next to the stand of a farmer selling his watermelons. And then followed one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had on this tour.

The good man was a teacher of philosophy. Since the start of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan he started disliking all people from the so-called Western civilized world, a sentiment shared by many in that region. There, under the shady trees, he started speaking with a foreigner for the first time in eleven years. I sat and listened to the why’s and why not’s of his views. Later we bought two bottles of cool drink. My opener was in my luggage and before I could fetch it the farmer took the bottles and with his teeth opened the bottles! I couldn’t believe it! The farmer later joined us and offered first tea and later one of his water melons. We sat with sticky hands and sticky mouths and enjoyed the sweat red flesh of the water melon. During that special hour under the trees we formed our own UN. Africa our Home.

My good guide mentioned something interesting. No foreigner should be allowed to travel south from Asyut without protection. Then it struck me that that morning a police vehicle came to escort the bus of a group of British students going somewhere. Soon after I started riding again I had the first police road block. Quite often those road blocks were not even two kilometers apart. Each time I had to stop and answer the same questions: From where? Nationality? Where to? Next to the road on both sides police officers were sitting in towers overlooking the street, the AK’s pointing towards the road.

Quite often one has to be a naïve traveller to enjoy a tour like this one.

On Friday it is again the Muslim Sunday and are all offices closed. On Saturday and Sunday I will get all stamps and signatures and forms completed to de-register the KLR. Then, on Monday afternoon, the ferry, the only way of getting from Egypt to Sudan leaves. There are many conflicting reports on the situation there, indicating that not everything is as it should be after the elections of a few months ago. I look forward to experiencing the real situation.

After I uploaded the photographs on the school visit of Monday I received a message with a very interesting sentence in it, referring to one of the quotes on a wall by a pupil. In Afrikaans it was: “Klink asof die kinders se harte tussen hul ore sit.” Translated it means: “It seems as if the children had their hearts in their heads.” What a sentence if one understands what the person meant. I admire people that have the ability to say so much with so little words.

I worked so hard to get a Sudanese visa in my new passport. And now our ways parted, the new passport with Sudanese visa, and me. Hopefully not for long. I will tell you the story later.

Regards!

About Lodie

Africa, Africa, Africa!
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One Response to Aswan, Egipte

  1. As always ,so interesting and informative .

    Your stamina is amazing .

    You do however look quite different with a beard.

    Much affection and very safe on ward journey .

    When all arround seems dark your supporters will hold up a candle for you .

    In this way you are never alone .

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