Tuesday, March 22, 2011

November 2010

On the first of November we left Ethiopia for Sudan. Sudan is supposed to be one of the friendliest countries in Africa. Well that is as long as you aren't in Southern Sudan where they are having some civil unrest. We bushed camped our first night in Sudan near a Baobab tree. These trees are very interesting looking. Took some pictures of it. We had 3 days to reach Khartoum which is the Capital of Sudan. We have to register our selves and vehicle there.It cost us an extra $50 I believe to register. Oh well. We stayed in Khartoum for a few days. We camped at the Blue Nile Sailing club.They had free WIFI so we were all able to catch up on emails and facebook. Khartoum is where the White and Blue Nile meet. At times during the year you can see the different colors of the rivers mixing. But while we were there you couldn't really tell. It just looked brown and brown mixing. The people were really kind though to us in Khartoum. Had a good conversation with some guys who are going to the University of Khartoum, at a Schwarma shop. That is something that I learned to love during my time in Arab influenced countries. Falafel and Schwarma's. Falfel is a fried chickpea batter and Schwarma is also known as a Gyro or a Kebab. Basically flat bread with filling of meat and veggies. Very cheap and filling. We left Khartoum and made our way to Egypt. Our ferry is leaving on the 11th so we had a few days to get there. The truck is going on a separate barge so it needs to be there 2 days earlier. So we left Khartoum and made a few interesting stops on our way up to the border. One of the stops was at the Nubian pyramids of Meroe. This was a total opposite of what our experience would be with the Egyptian Pyramids would be. For one we camped about 100 meters from the Pyramids. Second we were the only ones there and Third we went into the site before it was open. It was an awesome experience being able to walk around the site with no one bothering us or people getting in the way of our pictures. We even found some little critters under our tents when we were packing up. Bought my brother a knife from one of the guys there for $5. The sheath was half leather and half Crocodile skin. I'm sure my brother will like it. Our next stop on our way north was the area called Jebel Barkal. There were more pyramids here and also the remains of a temple. Most of us didn't go and see the pyramids since these were in worse shape then the ones at Meroe. We didn't camp at them but we got there around 11 am and climbed the Jebel Barkal "mountain". Where we had an amazing view of the city below and the Nile bending its way towards the Mediterranean. Walked through the temple at the base of the mountain. This was another site that didn't have anyone else at. We had it to our selves for the most part.There was some others that climbed the "mountain" but we for the most part were the only ones. Another good time I had was in Dongola I think it was called. So as part of my traveling I have been buying stickers of the flags of the countries I have gone through and put them on my computer. So I had a fun time walking around trying to find a place that I could get these stickers.I had seen them on cars.But since we left Khartoum people who could speak english were hard to come by. We had 4 hours towalk around so we went and sat at the edge of the market and had some Chai tea and Turkish coffee. Talked with a few locals and had a few laughs. Took some pics of the kids that watched us. They loved seeing themselves in pictures. Thats one of the things that is amazing about Digital photography is the instant gratification it gives(or disappointment). After our tea and coffee we went looking for a Schwarma. We had falafel a few to many times so we felt like meat. We found a butcher at the market that knew english and he took us to a shop where we got our schwarma's. Sooooo good. After we got our fix I went to go look for my sticker. While walking through the stalls of the market several people saw my camera and wanted their picture taken. At the Schwarma shop I had taken a picture of a kid who pointed at my camera and pointed at himself. As I took a few pictures some guy came out of the crowd yelling at me in Arabic. I had no idea what he was saying but another Sudanese man said the guy was saying that I shouldn't be taking pictures without peoples permission. So while I was walking through the market I took pictures of people who wanted me to take pictures of them. Many of them wanted a copy. But I have no way of printing them out. That is definitely something I will look into when I go back to Africa. I will look for some type of portable printer. It doesn't really matter about the quality these people really just want something of themselves. I eventually found my shop where I could buy the stickers. I got them at a Decal shop. We got to Wadi Halfa where we are taking the ferry on lake Nasser to Aswan, Egypt. We spent a couple days there just hanging out. So a big obstacle that happened during the trip was the ferry service. This is the last ferry for 2 weeks. There is a Muslim Holiday so they are shutting down the service. So it was either go a week earlier to Egypt or spend 2 weeks longer in Ethiopia and Sudan. So we are going to Egypt earlier. Mark said that the ferry would be busy. Luckily though it wasn't, we slept on the deck of the ferry. We payed our $12 exit fee. lol. you pay to go to the country you pay to be in the country and you pay to leave. That is just weird. We arrived in Aswan at around 9 in the morning. Mark had to deal with customs so he sent us to the hotel we would be staying at. The Hathor Hotel was very nice. There was a pool on top of the roof and it was just acrossthe street from the Nile so we had a beautiful view of the Nile. We stayed the weekend here. Mark was unable to get the truck out before they shut down for the weekend. So we spent a few days in Aswan. We went to the Abu Simbel temple which we had actually past when we were on the ferry. Abu Simbel was actually cut up and moved since it was going to be submerged by the Nile when they put in the HighDam. Very cool sight. So my time in Egypt was spoiled by the ever constant exploitation of tourist. For instance you aren't allowed to take pictures in most of the monuments and museums but you can buy there horrible postcards and over priced books. You can grab a coke at the Abu Simbel for the very low price of 5 US dollars. lol. Most of the passengers on the truck took a Feluca up to Luxor. We spent 3 days two nights on the feluca sleeping on the deck and lounging. It was a very relaxing time. Most of the time was spent reading, napping, taking pics, or playing scrabble. Can't remember the name of the place that we stayed at in Luxor but on our way from the Feluca we saw the Temple of Edfu. Which was amazing. But nothing would prepare me for the Karnak Temple which was just huge. I believe there are 16 rows that are still intact. They are massive though ~3 meters in diameter and 10+meters tall. Spent a long time in Luxor. Went to the West bank and saw the Kings Valley.
Jen, Jules, and Ish were just coming out so they told us about what was worth seeing. They said the have to do things were the Ramses III tomb and the King Tut's tomb. A bunch of us rented bikes and rode to the valley. It was a good work out but we were to tired after to do the Queens valley. Went to several others but these two were the most impressive. They both cost extra to go into and no where in the valley are you allowed to take pictures. They do sell books and postcards though. lol. Also in Luxor went fishing on the Nile. Caught some small perch that were only a few inches long. The most fun was going swimming in the Nile. Our time in Luxor came to a close and we headed out into the Western Desert. This is the first time Mark has done this so he wasn't sure what to expect all he knew was to stock up on water because it will be hot. We had an amazing time in the desert. I got lost on the first night when I wondered from camp at sunset to take pictures. The lands is so flat and there was very little light. The moon wasn't going to come up for several hours so I wasn't sure if I should just wait and hope they would look for me or if I should keep walking. Luckily though I saw lights from other vehicles that were heading to some hotel or something farther down the rode so I walked towards the lights. Maybe they could point me in the right direction. But I found my self near our camp. I was lost for maybe 2 hours but it felt like much longer.That was a fun adventure.We got to see lots of calcium deposit mounds. Which was very cool and did some night shooting with a train and the mounds. We made our way to Giza after spending 6 days out in the desert. As we were driving into Giza the streets were dirty with everything from old electronics to plastic bottles. The canal that was next to some of the streets was so full of garbage at times that it looked like it was a floor of plastic containers. There was a dead horse and donkey in the river.The donkey being right outside of where we were staying. Not a great way to arrive in a city that lie's right next to one of the seven wonders of the world. It was amazing though seeing the Pyramids and how close they are to the city. It was a smoggy day when we got there so just the points of the Pyramids were poking through but they were awing. AK and I had cook group that night so we had to go find stuff to make for dinner. We only saw a few small stands on our way in so we would have our work cut out for us. We are given $50 in local currency to buy the food for Breakfast and dinner. We walked around for a while but found nothing with much. Asked a few taxi drivers and a security guard they said the closest market like that is 45 minutes away. AK and I didn't believe this for one second since people in a city aren't going to drive or walk that far just to get some fresh produce. So we asked around some more and eventually got a cab to the store. The problem being that the taxi cost us 15 round trip so we only had 35 to spendon food left.We ended up deciding to fry up some chicken for the"normal" people and some tempura style vegetable's for the veggies. Got some fresh milk for cereal in the morning and spent a few dollars out of our own pocket to cover everything. It took us close to 3 hours to do all this. By the time we got back the truck was half cleaned. We needed to do a truck cleaning since about 8 of us were getting off in a few days. I got all my stuff together and sort of packed up my stuff. I'm leaving on the 16th of December to go to Canada to visit Alanna. So I made sure I put my stuff in an easily accessible area. The food AK and I prepared was a big hit. There was nothing left. The next day we went and saw the Pyramids up close. It was very awing to stand next to them. I got kind of tricked into a camel ride. I'll tell you this the Egyptians are good sells people. I didn't mind it that much though. I was at the pyramids and we all were dressed up as Egyptians. Why not get a picture of me on a Camel in front of the pyramids. I don't think I'll ever come back again so its my one chance to get a photo like this. I found it disturbing how corrupt the security guards were at the monument though. A few of them asked if I'd like to climb on the Pyramid for money. Hmmmm desecrate your national heritage site for a little bit of money in your pocket. Not going to happen. So the guys who I had got me to do the camel thing tried to get me to pay $120 for the 2 minute ride and the 5 pictures. lol. I walked away paying $20 and still felt cheated. But I guess this is there business. I saw a couple getting harrased by a camel owner and eaves dropped a bit. The guy was trying to charge them $400 for there Camel ride. Ridiculous. After a while any Egyptian who would come up to me I wouldn't even listen to what they would say I would automatically say "No, I don't want ANYTHING" I feel a little bad now looking back on it. But I had had enough. Saw a dying donkey attached to a machine right next to the pyramids. Tourism has brought out the worst in Egypt. Its all about the money. Ended the month here in Giza next stop Cairo.

  • Baobab Tree at Sunset.
  • Kids who were hanging out with
  • us while we were
  • drinking our Chai
  • and Coffee.
  • Siloughette of
  • Alison taking pictures of the Sunrise.
  • Textures of sand leading viewer to the Pyramids of Meroe
  • Meroe from our campsite.
  • Panorama of Meroe from a hill near by.
  • One of the little critters that was under our tent when we packed up.
  • The road just keeps going.
  • Sunset at one of our Bush camps.
  • Sunset on the Nile with a Feluca.
  • Me at Abu Simbel.
  • Me with some of the Collumns of the Karnak Temple.
  • One of the Obelisks at Karnak.
  • Calcium deposit formation Wester Dessert, Egypt.
  • Calcium deposits at night with moon in background. Western Dessert, Egypt.
  • Sign showing White desert National Park at Crystal Mountain, Western Dessert, Egypt.
  • Panorama Western Dessert with Alison taking photos.
  • Me sitting on train tracks Western Dessert, Egypt.
  • Me holding up the pyramid in my Egyptian Attire.
  • Me with the three pyramids behind.
  • Dying donkey near one of the Pyramids.

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