From here on, the Husky and I will have no technical support the full stretch down to Joburg. It’s just us, my tools and a few spare parts. Before moving on, I will visit the local Husqvarna Dealer in Amman. I want to meet these fellows, exchange a few thoughts and get some local input.
Not yet having finished my short introduction, the Husky is already standing in the workshop, ready to be taken care of. She has the team’s full attention. I ask the lads to check the chain tension, have a look at the air filter and replace the cooling fluid. Abdullah (mechanic) is Jordan Enduro champion, stunt rider and future Dakar participant. I deem the Husky in good hands.
The KTM / Husqvarna team in Amman has given me a great welcome and appreciates that I’ve dropped by. We discuss about the Husky, Tamer (GM) gives me some valuable contacts and Michel (KTM Adventure Tour Planner) helps me on planning a curvy route through Jordan. I pack an additional reserve bottle of 10W60 oil to keep the Husky feisty and head off w/o being charged a cent. In the evening Tamer shows me around Amman and gives me some more information. Exceptional support by the Amman branch of the KTM / Husqvarna family.
We hit the road South. A swim in the Dead Sea cannot be left out and the Mövenpick Hotel seems like the right place to take a break, have a nice lunch and take a swim. Enjoying all the amenities, I relax and float. The hotels I crash in don’t come close to this standard, but they’re local and much more affordable. That’s what I repeat in my mind every time I check-in.
The roads past Wadi Finan are good fun, but it’s turning dark and I ride a windy road through the desert in the dark. Not much of a view of the desert. The stars however are bright and sharp and more than compensate the strains of this stretch to Petra.
I visit Petra at 06:30 a.m. and am rewarded with an incredible scenery. A unique place and I could spend hours, if not days, here. I will definitely be back to Jordan. A beautiful country with ever so likeable people.
It is time to tackle one of the big challenges of my journey. Entering Egypt. I’ve heard so many stories about this venture and none of them had anything positive about them. In fact, I was in touch with some shipping companies back home and most of them refused to ship vehicles to Egypt, albeit their global service network. Bureaucracy and corruption are the terms most often heard in this context. I dread it but there is no way of bypassing this hurdle.
I target the ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba in the late evening. It’s going to be a short trip of 2.5h which allows circumnavigating Israel (no re-entry) and apparently more insecure territory on Sinai. The port is a mess and the process fairly lengthy. What takes the longest is paying exit tax for me and the Husky. Not only foreigners have to pay this tax, but every Jordanian every time he/she leaves the country. There is one booth and the queue is accordingly long.
I spend the waiting time talking to truckers on the same route. They cook up tea while waiting and it’s a rather relaxed atmosphere. They’re used to this and cannot be stressed. When going through numerous security checks towards the ferry, a concert of truck horns across the port greets the husky and myself as we navigate through a convoy of 18-wheelers.
It’s Thursday, the last day of the working week and the week of the begin of Ramadan. All Egyptian migrant workers are being sent home from Jordan as it is low season now. I hadn’t thought of that and the ferry is fully booked. This is not the tourist ferry; I get the local experience. I’m offered food and drinks and learn about these people’s lives. A unique insight into how these hardworking people overcome hardship in an everyday.
While boarding I had had to deposit my passport and my visa at an office on the ferry and it is unclear when, how and where I will get it back. The booth is now not occupied anymore. There are random people relaxing and charging their phones in it. My Egyptian colleagues apologize for the way these things are handled in Egypt. They seem ashamed, although there is nothing they could do about it. I remain relaxed and optimistic that I will get my passport back at the given time. One of my golden rules is to always stay relaxed and maintain a smile.
The ship has docked at the port. A door next to the booth opens and a man walks out with two plastic bags stuffed with passports. There is a lot of shouting, paying and handing over of documents and passports. Mine is not among these.
It’s shortly before 01:00 a.m. and from the other side of the cabin an officer shouts that I shall follow him. I am to leave the ship with the foot passengers. It’s quite hectic and I don’t quite understand what the rush is about. We are to receive our passports in the terminal. I grab the Husky and, following the crowd, push her down the steel ramp towards Egyptian ground.
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Swisscare Hotel in Nuweiba has more than 100 rooms. It seems I am the only guest. This place is deserted and all neighboring hotels have been shut down. I have the beach to myself. The hotel is left to three youngsters in their twenties. The infrastructure is desolate and I won’t mention the food. Nonetheless, I appreciate that they are doing their best, they’re good lads and it is quite nice to have a hotel to myself.
The Husky and I blast down towards Sharm El-Sheikh at 38 degrees Celsius, passing 4 check-points. Some want to see my passport, some just wave me through, and some take my passport, disappear and let me wait for 30min. I’ve become accustomed to waiting and there is always a less senior officer apologizing for the wait. It seems to be a standard here that people apologize for things they can’t help. I value this custom.
In Sharm El-Sheikh I find out that the ferry to Hurghada is not operating. It will be an 800km detour up to Suez and back down to Hurghada. We tackle the 350km to Suez at 40 degrees Celsius on a very monotone desert road. The sea to the left and the desert to the right. This time we are jumping from one check-point to the next. At each check-point the full procedure. The procedure is called “security check”. The chief of police always sits in little hut or at least under a sun umbrella and I am usually offered a seat in the shade. In one case the chief of police gives me his seat to make the wait more bearable.
At one of the last check-points I am not returned my passport and receive a police escort for the final 30km to Suez. Apparently, I am passing close to “coded red” territory. I very much dislike this regular practice of withholding my passport, but the escort has the advantage of easily passing the last check-points.
I receive my passport back. The Husky and I cross the Suez channel and set foot on the African continent. So, “TIA”. This is Africa.