What is ‘this’? Well, it’s Egypt. Egypt has a terrible reputation among riders overlanders and I just couldn’t help but let other’s stories limit my excitement over seeing some of the wonders of the ancient world.
But, wait- before I worry about that, I have to get there. Riding south from Wadi Rum you reach Aqaba in about half an hour. It’s a pretty touristy beachy kind of a place, but enjoyable all the same. I only spent one night before taking the morning ferry to Nuweiba. The ferry was billed as the ‘modern, fast ferry’, but continued the downward trend in ferry service that I’d noticed as I moved south. It left late, was crowded, the onboard immigration procedures were shambolic, and for some mysterious reason we had to sit in the ferry when we arrived for an extra 45 minutes. But, arrive we did!
Customs was a mix of the various stories I’d heard- neither the worst or the best. It took a few hours, the mandatory photocopies were around $20, the tourist police were helpful, and the end proved instructive.
You know this line wasn’t moving through customs in a hurry…
Hanging around waiting with me were 3 overlanders (including a couple who had driven a 2WD minivan from Malaysia!!) and we ended up getting finished around the same time, just after sunset. Before leaving the police officer who had been dealing with us approached us about one more fee that we had to pay- the kind without a receipt- the infamous baksheesh. Me and two of the others coughed up the cash- the last one completely refused to give up any cash without a receipt and details on what he was paying for. Us spineless ones waited around to see what would happen- would the cop give up and let him go? Did we pay and support a corrupt officer for nothing? No, as it turns out, you can’t fight city hall and you can’t fight baksheesh in Egypt. When I left the officer was telling the holdout that his vehicle had to be searched, but the people who did had gone home for the day so he would have to leave his vehicle in customs and come back tomorrow and wait for them to finish.
The lesson learned? if someone has official power over you it’s best to just pay. If they don’t, just compare the annoyance to the cost and decide from there.
So, off I went into the Egyptian night… Only to completely luck out.
A beer on the beach before going to bed in my thatched hut.
My hut in the morning.
Breakfast on the beach with a friend.
Okay, if this is Egypt, then I don’t care about a bit of corruption or annoying touts trying to see me stuff- this just rocks!