AROUND THE WORLD BY BIKE - Part Two
Make it to Khartoum and I can make it through Africa.
I have now ridden over 5000 miles in my quest to cycle around the
Please have a look at my web site and spare a moment to read of
my latest adventures as I head South towards Cape Town.
Best Wishes, Al
you were to die right now, how would you feel about your life?" -Fight
Motorway fly-overs brush second floor bedroom windows, the living compete
with the dead for real estate amongst the city's cemeteries and a fine
view of the Pyramids is to be had from the tacky interior of Kentucky
Fried Chicken. Cairo. After the crush it made a change to hurtle south
along the quiet Red Sea road, a hefty tailwind blasting me 190km one day.
Most of the coast has been vomited into a half-built hell of unfinished
hotels, the windowless hulks gazing out blankly like fish on a slab. So
El Gouna was a real surprise, a tastefully built fantasy oasis amongst
the tat. It certainly wasn't Egypt but it wasn't really anywhere else
either. It was the final break to psych myself for the Sudan, a break
of beer, food, fun and no-one wheedling for 'baksheesh'.
And an even purer escape (courtesy of Alberto and Claudia,
www.divingworldredsea.com scuba-diving amongst tentacles of sunlight,
swathes of colour and a heady blanket of silence.
Finally after 5 months of fascinating (but frightening) introspection
I feel ready to start looking outwards once more, to feel and experience
and live the road through Africa. Even more hospitality is offered; hotels
and even a stay at a Sheraton! Fluffy white dressing gowns and complimentary
fluffy slippers certainly help reality fade for a while! 8434.4km on a
rattling bike cobbled back together with string and a teaspoon, 5months
and 3 days of slog, sweat and lots of tears all come to naught: the police
order me to take a ride on a convoy. I tried every single strategy but
it was impossible to cycle on. So the magic of my journey fragmented as
I grovelled down in the vegetable peelings in the back of a lorry. But
I cannot pretend that whizzing an effortless 160km whilst reading TE Lawrence
was not fun.
Perhaps to atone for my previous capitulation I decided to try and 'run'
the next roadblock. I waved and smiled at their shouts of "STOP!",
played dumb and pedalled like hell! But a 60kg bicycle is not an ideal
getawy vehicle and a commandeered taxi laden with flustered policemen
soon overtook me. They were VERY unamused.
The Nile valley is as green as Elland Road was in August, the sky as blue
as a late summer's cricket match. Swallows dipped the waters (I wondered
whether any of them will be visiting my village this summer?). Fertile,
fascinating, exotic and very fast driving: Egypt was in danger of winning
back my affections! Luxor soon put that to rights though - the Nile sunset
making a pretty backdrop to a thumping headache of.... "Hello, my
friend! Where you from? Stop one minute, can I ask you a question? Just
look! No hassle! You wanna taxiridefeluccaridehorseridemotorboatridedrugsride?
You wanna buy waterpipetshirtgalibayahspicescarpetsgenuinecarvingshashish?
Very cheap price! Maybe tomorrow? No hassle!"
I chew sugar cane in Aswan, tearing off the hard, green bark like a panda
then crunching the deliciously sweet liquid centre, sucking out its life
before spitting out mouthfuls of the woody pith. A long way from "two
sugars please". I'm waiting for the weekly ferry to Sudan. Over the
past months the Sudan has never strayed far from my waking or sleeping
thoughts. (There is only one other thing that has featured so prominently
in my thoughts, and she is an infinitely happier and more beautiful thought
than riding alone through the desert!) The next month is make or break.
Make it to Khartoum and I can make it through Africa. Make it through
Africa and I can make it through anything.... www.roundtheworldbybike.com
Previously on Hacks Al
© Al Humphreys 2002
You can follow his adventures by clicking on
5 Continents, 50 Countries, Around the World. On a Bicycle
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