We have been in Egypt now for almost three weeks, and it would be hard to detail all our experiences as there have been so many. Even keeping a diary has been hard work as it has been a full time experience as well! Not a moment has been with out it’s own story and a name to put to it, and to all the people we have met, thank you so much! We have fallen in love with you all and the country that you represent so well.
Egypt is a land of extreme contrasts, but what is consistent the whole way through is that the people are simply kind and helpful. However, even with in that that there is contrast, as on the one hand you have your every day person who will bend over backwards to help you, for no other reason than it gives them pleasure to do so. On the other hand you have the tourist touts, who are the same, but they want to make you pay for it. Sadly this is tourism the world over, and not exclusive to Egypt. However, it does let the side down.
A simple example of this was walking down the road in Aswan and a man starts to follow and talk, asking where we are from etc. I say that I’m not interested in what he is selling, and I say it several times, but he insists that he is not selling anything (making me feel aware even more that I am a mark that he is working on) eventually he says as many will do – I’m only wanting to make you happy, to have a good time in Egypt. So I replied that it was difficult to do that with someone following me making me feel uncomfortable. At this point he left us and we could breath again. What was he selling? hotel rooms (his friend he knows and an uncle over there and maybe good price if I’m not happy where we are staying right now)
Yet even with in this constant desperation of the tourist worker there is still positive experiences to be found. Our guide at the pyramids ended up taking us to his home for tea, meeting his lovely wife N’agua, lent some trousers for sofia to wear on the horses and we left with an offer to stay with them should we return. Just nice easy hospitality that was over and above the call of financial need.
The most amazing welcome and generosity we experienced though, was from the bikers of Egypt which all started with Omar Alfardy offering us a place to stay in Alexandria. From there came the Alexandria Free Bikers, the Golden Riders, and the Soul Seekers and perhaps most importantly George Spartant, who helped us get our bike out of port, and became organiser extrordinaire buy organising the TV crew in Alexandria, with a ride out and visit to the fort, and escort out of Alex, across Cairo (in rush hour), a place to stay in New Cairo, before our onward journey to Hurgada, where Elena and the Soul Seekers, and Mohamed picked up the riens, with Mohamed seeing us through to Aswan, our final stop before our boarder run down to Abu Simble and Sudan.
Even bikers with out group association were there ready to help when we needed guidance through a town after stopping for fuel, or finding a hotel. No bakshish required, it was just a pleasure for them to help.
Some may argue that we have been extremely lucky, and yes in many respects we have, however, I don’t think any visitor to this country would need to try very hard to find this kind genuine side to Egypt. Once you let go of trying to control your experience of the country it opens up into an amazing technicolor of people and lives and relationships, an energy that is constantly moving and can carry you to those places that you really came to see an experience when you imagined travel to distant lands.