The truck continued on but was soon stopped by a 4×4 full of police and various other characters of unknown origin and purpose accusing the driver of hit and run and complaining they had to conduct a high speed chase to apprehend us. 30 km an hour was the top speed of said chase. So it was we were directed back to the police head quarters for the driver to face prosecution and to view the terrible injuries sustained by the victim.
Witnesses emerged from all over to support the story of the wretch hit by the truck although none of their stories quite matched. His near terminal injuries consisted of a scraped elbow though he claimed the truck hit him in the back. The driver explained to the police that if this frail framed individual had in fact been hit by our mighty chariot he would have undergone a non reversible transition into the 2nd dimension and would have been a mural on the tarmac. The police insisted that “seeing is believing” and we were guilty. They demanded that we pay suitable compensation for the victim’s injuries.
The driver, Mr. Foreman, was most upset and opted for prosecution rather than pay. So, leaving the responsible passengers in charge of the chariot, he was led out the back of the headquarters into what looked like a pig pen where he was sat down on a plastic drum under heavy armed guard. Sharing the area with 4 other criminals and 2 prostitutes chained at the ankles. Four hours later and after much pestering from the police they managed to extract the equivalent of $7 US dollars from the driver and we were set free.
The border crossing went surprisingly smooth and even the money changers weren’t too unfair in their trade. Our journey from there was hindered by enormous herds of goats and camels being marched along the road to heaven knows where. The surrounding countryside was a swamp and it looked as if bush camps were going to be hard to find. It was getting quite late and we had lost a lot of time with the police. Eventually we found a little track and parked off the road leaving the back wheels of the truck on as solid ground as possible.
Inevitably the rain pounded down that night and by morning the road out was a slick mud slide. Shovels were out and people carted rocks in to get traction. Try as we might the truck could not get back up the hill and was starting to slip sideways which really was not a good thing. After many hours things began to dry a little. A handy tractor rattled past and was hailed down. With their assistance our Scania was dragged free and back onto good road.
On our journey to Khartoum we had a classy camp out the back of a service station and next day negotiated the streets into the capital where we stayed at the Blue Nile Sailing Club. Just down the river is where the two Nile’s meet. The White Nile from Uganda and the Blue Nile from Ethiopia.
The boats trips were stupidly priced so the guys wandered down to the bridge where the junction could be seen. Here they were harassed by police not to take any photographs, something the Sudanese seem a little touchy on.
After Khartoum we journeyed onwards to the Pyramids of Meroe and stayed around behind the hills and dunes for a very breezy night and no small amount of sand blasting.
Karima was the next stop. Set upon the Nile there are some more small pyramids, a museum and a temple with some impressive hieroglyphs on the walls inside. By now we were right in amongst the scorching deserts and temperatures were in the high 40’s.
There now is a good tarmac road all the way to our Sudanese departure point, Wadi Halfa. Though, as we did, it is still possible to follow some of the small dirt roads along the river and through the many small villages. The occasional store can be found with cold drinks for sale.
Eventually we arrived at the northern Sudan port of Wadi Halfa along the shores of Lake Nasser. Here we make arrangements for the ferry crossing into Egypt. Currently there is no open road for tourists into Egypt and we are forced to pay the extortionate rates charged by the ferry company. The truck needs to go on a separate barge to the passenger ferry and the trick is to coordinate the 2 together. Somehow our plans went astray and no truck barge was coming despite assurances from previous phone calls that the barge in question had already left.
The stories constantly changed as we attempted to make other arrangements and eventually settled on leaving our truck in Sudan for an extra week and sharing a barge with another overland company making their way along the same route. In theory we would share the cost of the barge but the ferry company had other ideas and are charging us $2000 US dollars in addition to the monies already paid. A bit like renting a car to somebody then charging them more for additional passengers. Little can be done at the moment for, as the way things are, they do have us over the metaphorical barrel.
The overnight ferry ride to Egypt had mixed reviews from the guys depending on how well they slept. Greg loved the journey whilst Sean lay awake the entire night. Mick was woken up at some ungodly hour by a man wanting to know about the current political situation in England. Mick is Australian. He may well could’ve known but claimed not to and the man went away. Hannah, Kirsty and Claire were parked up on the deck where the prayer sessions were being held and weren’t too popular. Hisashi was tolerated however and slept peacefully as people prayed around him.
So we arrived in Egypt and found ourselves being picked up by our reliable assistant, Mr. Abouda, and taken to an air conditioned hotel in Aswan. Luxury at its finest. Here some have already sinfully indulged in the culinary wonders of the Golden Arches and KFC. There are also other near forgotten pleasures rediscovered such as beer and wine. As for activities, some went to behold the marvels of the mighty temple of Abu Simbel and the Sound and light show of Philae.
We continue north after this. We’ll sail the Nile in a felucca for a couple days, visit Edfu and Kom Ombo temples. We’ll stay in Luxor, Hurghada, Cairo, climb Mt. Sinai and finish up our Egyptian stay in Dahab before crossing over to the wonderful country of Jordan.