Thursday, April 17, 2008

Skipping Sudan...

I'm flying to Ethiopia tomorrow at 10:00. It's a big dissapointment to not go through Sudan. Crossing the Sahara is the most difficult challenge in going from Cairo to Cape town. There are other deserts on the way but they all have roads...

I basically have been procrastinating these last few weeks. Not because of any hope that I'd get a visa but because life here is comfortable and predictable. It's hard to leave.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


When I got to Sohag I was assigned a body guard, Mohamed, and told to stay in my hotel. Mohamed agreed walk around town with me for an hour which was pretty cool of him. Otherwise I just sat around drinking tea with the hotel staff, Mustafa, Osama and Shitos, pictured above.

At this point I decided to just take a micro-bus to Luxor.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I cycled for an hour from Mallawi before I was given a ride by the police to Assuit. I already blogged about the hotel situation there (btw. $11 is a fair price for a 2 star hotel in Egypt) but I left out the more interesting story.

If you didn't know anyone in Assuit you aren't allowed outside the hotel. I was glad that Mohammed from Mallawi was arriving and I'd be able to visit him. Otherwise it was house arrest. The rooms had TV but I didn't come to Egypt to watch "The Naked Mile." with Arabic subtitles.

I was supposed to meet Mohammed at the gate to Assuit University but he was late. The policeman at the gate had been trying to invite me for tea and after waiting and waiting for Mohammed to arrive it seemed rude to not drink tea with him.

The guard house was small and poorly lit. It had a front room, a bathroom and an closet. There wasn't tea available (a first in Egypt) but he did have a selection of hard liquor (another first in Egypt). I don't drink so we ended up talking only.

It wasn't very long before I knew that he loved America. He loved sex. He wasn't married. He loved sex with his boys. I was getting more and more uncomfortable. Then he started touching my leg.

This was the point where I said, "I don't want to be rude, but I have to leave. I'll be back in 15 minutes to see if my friend has arrived." I was out the door before he grabbed my elbow. He led me across the road to the other guards and told them that I was trying to walk around town without a police escort but fortunately they didn't particularly care and I was free to go.

Mohammed was there when I returned. I really worried for him. That policeman might want revenge and I was gone but Mohammed was still there. So far it has been over a month and nothing has happened.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


All through Egypt people kept telling me that Muslims and Christians were friends. When I saw this church and this mosque next to each other it seemed really to illustrate the concept of religions living side by side. Actually it turns out that back in the day there was an official policy of building a mosque next to every church.

When I arrived in Mallawi there were a couple of pentacostal missionairies staying at my hotel. Basically they were going where the Spirit led them. At first they thought maybe that was to the country of Malawi but then they realised it was to the city of Mallawi so here they were. Counting Egypt they were visiting seven countries for a month each. One of the countries was Afganistan which impressed me as very brave.

They almost certainly came to Egypt with tourist visas because evangelism is strongly discouraged here. At several of the police road blocks they asked me if I were a missionary. I'd respond that I was a tourist. Then maybe they'd ask me if I didn't love Jesus and I say of course but seriously I'm a tourist only...

I spent the rest of the day in Mallawi with Mohamed's family. He is a student at Assuit University but today he was helping his father and cousins at their hardware store. His father was reading the Koran when I arrived. It takes him 11 days to read through the entire Koran and then he starts over and reads it again.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Minya to Mallawi

It's 40km from Al Minya to Mallawi. Basically two and a half hours cycling.

Yousyaf intercepted me on his motorcycle and invited me to his farm where he and his freind Ahmed fed me tea. Farming is the number one business in Egypt. It's easy to forget that.

They fed me tea and also cheese they had made on the farm. Mallawi is famous for the local cheeses. Really really fantastic. Very very kind people and generous.


This statue had been set up just south of Minya. The picture is take from the east so you see her stretching in the sunrise. From the west you would see a woman with the key of life reaching towards the sunset.

Al Minya

I ended up staying 2 nights in Minya. I really loved this town. There were fountains all over. My hotel was cheap and the toilettes were clean. The horse drawn carriages, instead of catering to tourists, were used by ladies with small children. I guess they thought that taxi cabs were a noisy, inellegant way to travel and enjoyed being out in the open air.

All through Egypt I talked to people who wanted to go to America, but in Al Minya I met some Egyptians who had done it.

Michael had a degree in mechanical engineering, he went to America on a tourist visa but got work at a deli in New York. Now he was back in Minya to get married.

Kero Sami was going to go to Montana to work in a national park for the summer as part of an exchange program with his university. His mother was concerned that he would get eaten by bears but he was worried about the lack of night life.

George's wife won the green card lottery. He worked at a Walmart in Ohio but his background was in civil engineering and he planned to get a job doing CAD stuff. He was back in Egpyt on vacation.