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by SS at 7:15 pm on Friday 22nd January

This has been a very strange birthday - for the last 17 years or so I've been confined to celebrating it whilst attending primary school, secondary school or university. This time however, I'm in a campsite on the edge of the city of Luxor in Egypt.

The final day of cycling before our rest day here was a brisk 90 or so kilometres along a fairly major highway which ran alongside the Nile. Before lunch I joined a train of pretty fast riders as they averaged about 30kmph or so towards lunch. The peloton oscillated from short to long, much like a longitudinal wave, as riders sped up and slowed down in turn. Soon enough though, we reached lunch, at the almost ridiculous time of 8:30am!

I hung about for a bit, wanting to eat more than just the two half pitta breads that the speedier guys were restricting themselves to. Instead, I helped myself to four halves, two with vegetables and two with peanut butter and jelly. Soon enough, my usual riding buddies, Jason and Jen, and Australian Dan rolled up and I just hung about until they were ready to go.

The 50km after lunch was just as rapid as the morning ride and we rolled into camp at about 10:25am yesterday. Most of the afternoon was spent tending to laundry and picking up various essentials (toilet paper, suncream, chocolate). The campsite is basically the lawn outside a hotel, which luckily comes under the remit of the hotel's wi-fi coverage. Essentially, I'm sitting in my tent writing this.

Today we journeyed (by horse and carriage) to the Karnak Temple Complex, a huge site of ancient temples which tower into the sky. It's impressive how large these were built given the comparably less advanced technology the ancient Egyptians would have had! After exploring the temple complex for some time, we walked to and then around the Luxor temple and then walked into the market. It's quite amusing here that many of the local sellers put on Scottish accents. The usual exchange goes something like the following:
Seller - 'Australian?'
Me - 'No'
Seller - 'American?'
Me - 'No'
Seller - 'Scottish?'
Me - 'No, Venezualan'
I've also developed a habit of greeting all the kids we pass when cycling in Swahili. I think once I reach Kenya I'll switch to greeting people in Arabic.

This afternoon I was using my degree in Computer Science to help fix people's computing woes. One of other rider's brand new Asus Eee isn't recognising it's hard disk anymore. Having tried several electrical screwdrivers over the last few days to try and open it, it appears that it was tightened by a robot with superhuman strength! So that she had a useful computer again, I downloaded Ubuntu Netbook Remix, sideloaded it onto a bootable SD card and the little netbook was good to go!

Other than that, this afternoon was more of routine chores, cleaning my bike and collecting laundry. To my relief, all my socks matched up (several other riders lost items of clothing on the chaotic washing lines outside). One point of confusion is that my cycling chamois (the padded cycling shorts) are exactly the same type, size and brand as another rider's shorts. Something to look out for!

Tomorrow we head south towards Sudan, and in a couple of days we'll be on a pretty epic ferry (30 hours!) which is the only official route for tourists to take into the country. Connectivity is likely to be difficult, so until next time, kwaheri! (Or, to be correct- ma'as salaama!)

1 comment posted so far
Randi (LIndsey F.'s mom) wrote at 12:16 am on Sat 23rd Jan -
Last summer while on a cycling trip in France, I did laundry (in the bathtub) and hung up my shorts on hangers hooked on the huge wood French doors/windows in the front of the hotel. I hung them out at night because our room faced out to the street. The other side faced to Lake Annecy. I lined up my socks on the floor of the balcony. Well, sometime during the night a huge storm blew in with massive wind gusts. In the morning I went to bring in my laundry and I was missing two socks, unfortunately, from two different pairs. Matt, my husband, and I ran downstairs and spent a really long time hunting all over for the socks in the parking area below. I found one way at the edge of the hotel property against a pricker hedge. The other one was just not to be found. That day was the time trial around Lake Annecy of the Tour De France and the route went right past the hotel. I am telling you this because 1. You won’t feel bad that our room didn’t have a view of the lake because it did have a direct view of the race if we had decided to sit there all day. 2. Thankfully, no cars came and went all day. When Matt and I returned after the race, we started hunting again for my missing sock. (the sushi one, if you ever looked at my socks). Anyway, Matt found it in the windshield wiper well of a car in the hotel parking lot. I can’t tell you why he looked there but the whole thing was pretty silly. I just keep wondering what the driver would have thought if he drove off and it started to rain....socks!

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