|In Wadi Halfa...|
|Sitting outside our usual local...|
|Tuk, Tuks are quite the craze here!|
|As are donkeys...|
So we FINALLY managed to get our bikes today- what a relief! This basically means that it has taken us two and a half weeks to get out of Egypt... crazy! It has been a bit stressful seeing our precious time, that we so carefully planned to explore all the treasures along this beautiful stretch of Africa, be eaten up by Egypt's ferocious appetite for bureaucracy and their national sport of making people WAIT AROUND! But... we are finally free to explore!
I will say, that it has been quite an insightful experience being at the whims of Egypt's crazy ways and I can see how her admin laden system is a serious stranglehold on her own development. It is just madness for example (there are many) that there is only one open border for people to cross between Egypt and Sudan... and it is only open essentially once per week via a very unreliable ferry company (with monopoly over the route) that takes over 24hrs to do the 350km stretch! They also ensure that this is a thoroughly expensive endevour ... as is doing just about anything in the country.
|At our local restaurant... very friendly man who has been feeding us during the long wait...|
|Dad enjoying a spicy Arabic coffee....Yummy!|
All of this does not provide a very lucrative business environment nor any kind of incentive for foreign investment or trade... who in their right mind would want to cut through all that red-tape??? It is just way too much of an effort. The huge problem of how expensive us Africans have made trade within our continent, has been a well acknowledged fact for quite some time. There was always something unsettling about claims that it is FAR cheaper for an African country to trade with distant Europe or the Americas rather then the more obvious choice of their neighbours. However after witnessing the terribly complicated and erratic border post between Egypt and Sudan and the poor traders who are subject to its incompetent procedures... I can really see how this academic claim is in fact such a strong (and sad) political truth.
There has to be a better way...
We have spent the last four days in Wadi Halfa... waiting mostly (this is not a place of huge activity)... but also speaking to fellow travelers and educating ourselves on local as well as regional affairs. We have met quite a lot of Libyans who made the journey from Libya, through Egypt and into Sudan in an attempt to escape the terrible conflict in their country. It has been really sad to hear how many people's lives have been lost and young lives interrupted. We are mostly aware of the larger scale and loss incurred as a result of this war but seldom do we hear the individual stories in the media as well as how people's ordinary lives have been entirely disheveled.
We have met many students who were not able to finish their degrees, many who were only a semester away from graduating from medical school or a masters degree and although put in context this may not seem as serious as loss of life is, it is still really tragic how so many peoples' lives have been turned upside down. These students have fled Libya too quickly to get their paperwork in order and most of them have no record of their qualifications, more over their host countries are not being very understanding and this is causing massive disruptions in the lives of many refugees... an aspect which I had not pondered until recently. I would also like to mention our continual source of embarrassment at their outrage over our president's endorsement of and unsavoury friendship with Gaddaffi... hmm!!!
|Finally! The bikes arrive... a week after we loaded them :(|
|On our way back from the shores where the ferry was docked through some pretty testing terrain... lots of deep sand! Interesting...|
In less depressing news ;) We have really been enjoying the Sudanese people who are incredibly warm and welcoming. We are thrilled to finally be off tomorrow on our adventure through Sudan. We leave early to ride the road from Wadi Halfa to Dongola which follows the Nile and the many small towns along its banks! We are seriously excited to be back on the road again! YES!!!!
More news soon...