The morning started off as capital A, Awesome. My hotel room was right on the banks of The Nile and as I had my breakfast I watched fishermen work at getting their morning catch while rowing through the mist.
This ‘A’ lasted until I got my stuff together and headed up to my bike. No, my bike was just fine- it was the truck full of security AND the police motorcycle waiting for me that wasn’t. It just sucked all around- these guys were amazingly nice even though they knew the weren’t wanted (or needed- it’s been years since they’ve had any kind of real trouble). It took 20 minutes and signing some forms before I was finally able to leave- without an escort.
Until I hit the next town and the next group of friendly, apologetic, tourist police that insisted that I follow them.
And the next town.
And the next town.
It was terrible- here was the only group of officials in Egypt who weren’t corrupt (you can safely assume that unless mentioned, every person on the ‘tourist track’ that I encountered tried to rip me off in some way) and they were really the ones destroying my ride. I was averaging about 30km/hr with all the delays and was being kept to the main roads- I had to break free.
The next morning I got up and met my new escort while I loaded up my bags…
“Give me 1/2 an hour for breakfast and then we can leave.”
“Okay, we see you here in 30 minute.”
10 minutes later I was on the road, feeling sneaky, and ready to ride. Wonderful little roads along The Nile, a rickety ride on a Nile ferry with wonderful locals who hadn’t been poisoned by tourism, classic Nile scenes- the morning was full of them.
It was not to last.
By noon I had been picked up by the tourist police again and wasn’t to loose them again until Aswan. Their tight leash, along with the generally unpleasant nature of the Egyptians you meet as a tourist, pushed me south. Luxor and Deir el-Bahri turned into dutiful visits as I focused on reaching the border.
Actually, I’m going to skip the rest of Egypt since it really didn’t get any better and I don’t want to sound too whiney. Guards at temples colluded with tour guides to extort bribes, my camera was stolen by hotel staff (or someone with a key who knew I had just walked out 15 minutes earlier), gas station attendants tried to charge others fuel with mine, etc, etc.
Egypt is like the girl in high school who thinks that just because she has a nice pair of pyramids she can treat everyone like shit. Thing is, she’s right- tourists, like jocks, always reward looks over substance.