Crossing Africa newsletter V

First of all sorry I did not wrote a news letter sooner, but there where some other things on my mind.

06 till 14-12-2002 Getting better in Madaba

As I cannot remember when I did what, just a small a brief story of what I did these days.

There is not much to tell also as I had to give my foot a rest any way. After a couple of days Florian and Iris came to help me on the bike and to look what was wrong with it, which seemed not to much after a serious accident like this.
My back brake was broken, there was a dent in the back rim and my rack and cases where almost gone.
We decided to do the rim first because then it would be able to drive again. After that we went to a local garage to make the rack fit on the motorbike again and that I could tie at least my tires to the rack again. The day after we went back as my bike frame was 5 cm out of line at the back and re-bend it so it was nice to drive with it again.
That was that and all we could do on the bike without spare parts.
Two days later an American guy on a KTM dropped by, Florian and Iris met him in Damascus and told them about me. He is absolutely an amazing guy! Nick is his name and we had some rally good laughs together! As he was carrying two helmets, just bought a new one, he gave me his old one, THANX FOR THAT, it is a terrific helmet! (And I will definitely drop by in Montana after this trip!) Nick it is great traveling with a helmet that did not have a crash jet!
So after this all three left for Petra, leaving me behind to get my foot better or so small it would fit into my boot again. . . This took till the day I had to go to court.

15-12-2002  Bye Bye Madaba!

I had to appear in court again today to see if something changed in the fine they gave me. And they said no but in the end I only had to pay 12 JD instead of 30JD so apparently something changed although I still have no clue what it was. But this meant I had my papers back, my foot fitted inside my boot and I could leave this place!
Nick send me an e-mail about the nice kids on the way south, throwing stones at you and trying to get your attention when there is danger ahead.
So after passing the gorge that was absolutely beautiful the trouble started. For with I decided not to stick around Kerak but drive on to Aqaba the same day.
All though the bike was getting warm it did not overheat so I was happy to just make some miles again! The road next to the Israeli border was very straight and boring but the views of the desert were sometimes amazing.
As I found out my bike loved Petrol as it was doing 9 liters per 100km, so there is something seriously wrong. But we could find the problem in Aqaba, hopefully.

16 & 17-12-2002 – Aqaba

Some relaxing these days, with finally, some nice sunny weather again.
On the second day Florian and Iris arrived and we did some shopping around in Aqaba, got an Egyptian Visa because we did not want to have even more paper work at the Egyptian border in a few days.

18 & 19-12-2002 Bike work

These two days Florian and I worked on the bike to get them ready for Africa and tried to find my problem, which in the end we didn’t, so I will have to find a good garage in Egypt as they don’t know $#!& about bikes in Jordan.

20-12-2002 On the way to Petra

I decide to wake up early, leave my stuff in the camp site and take my bike for a spin to Petra as a test drive. Only 30 km up the mountain I whished I took a bus as the bike was having loads of trouble. Overheating and still no power. Only the engine sounded fine.
As there was a customs post 30 km out of town I spoke to the Police about leaving my bike with them and taking a bus to Petra and pick it up in a few days, which the agreed to after a couple of teas.
As it was Friday, not many busses go that direction. But for a change I was lucky and only after 15 minutes there was a minibus going to Petra! On the bus I met Tom, with whom I shared a room that night in Petra.
On the way to Petra I was glad that I had left the bike behind as it started with a sand storm and a few km after that water drops where flying by horizontally!
In Wadi Musa, the road was a river, so the plan to go into Petra that afternoon was cancelled. Instead we saw the new James Bond movie, which I bought in Madaba for 1,5 dollar! It appeared to be the Arabic version though, so we missed the “sexy” parts.
After that it was an early sleep as we wanted to wake up as early as possible.

21-12-2002 Snow in Petra

The alarm clock went of at 06:00 as Tom and I wanted to avoid the rains that usually come in the afternoon. We got a free bus ride to Petra and from there had an amazing walk around. I can probably write a couple of lines about Petra, but you will have to go there yourself to see it anyway, so I won’t. Just that it was hard on my foot, but I survived. If you read the Lonely Planet, it says that snow is not uncommon in Petra, I saw snow in Petra! So it is true. At 14:00 hours we saw most of what we wanted to see and as it was getting wetter, we decided to go back to our hotel to watch Indiana Jones. . .
As we went into the hotel we found out that there was a bus going to Aqaba in half an hour so we decided to hop on that bus, so I could go to Egypt the next day.
That was a not so wise decision as the roads in the mountains were very icy and the clouds where so low visibility was 50 meters. Thank God the bus drive was a cautious one (which is really rare) and that prevented us going of the cliffs by 1 meter. After 2 hours we hit the customs post near Aqaba where I left my bike and drove back, just not overheating the bike when I reached my camp site.

22-12-2002 Finally Africa!

It seemed as I was never going to hit African soil but today I did, the ferry from Aqaba was leaving early today so I had to hurry myself through customs at the port to catch it, which I did, just in time.
After almost three hours the boat hit the coast of Egypt, where a guy from the Tourist & Antique Police was waiting for ME. He guided me through all the customs steps. That resulted in a new number plate, 100 US$ lighter and a cup of tea in between.
As it was getting dark I decided to go for Dahab anyway, as it was cold and my motor might not overheat for a change.
It became hot but not TOO hot and after 85 km I hit Dahab and the German Couple again, who arrived the day before.

23-12-2002 First day in Dahab

This place is to be described as RELAXED. Okay it lives of the diving and so but it has a very laid back feeling. So nice to do just that.
I only needed to find out some things for transportation of the bike and where I could get a good repair shop.
After some internet-ing, I found a place in Cairo, but the guy is also a tour operator and is out at the moment so I will stick around in Dahab for a while till I know when he is IN Cairo as I don’t want to stick around that place for too long.
And I also found a pickup that will take me and the Bike to Cairo for 50$ so not too bad, and this way I know that I will not damage the bike more.

24-12-2002  Dahab is making it self ready for X-mas

Fun to see all the Islamic people prepare X-mas for the tourists here, getting dressed as Santa in the hope they will attract more people that way. But I am trying to avoid X-mas for a change! But we couldn?t. . . We (Me, Iris and Florian) had a nice X-mas dinner and a few beers.

25-12-2002  X-mas Day

Sorry to say, but a X-mas without family and friends and therefore no obligations is very good (for a change) And ofcourse the weather here made it a very “different” one.
Actually it was another day of doing nothing!

26-12-2002 Advanced Open Water Course

Today I start my advanced coarse for diving, we did two dives, “El Garden” which is also a very nice snorkeling place, and after that my navigation dive, where I lost my compass half way! But found it again, so did some good navigation 😉
Further I did some relaxing, as that is the second best thing to do here in Dahab.

27-12-2002 Diving into the Deep

Today my Multilevel and Deep dive are planned for my advanced OW course.
Had to wake up even earlier then yesterday, as I was expected at the Dive School at 08:15.
As the two dive sites are rally nice and therefore busy ones my diving instructor wanted to go early. . .
And she actually did a great job as there where almost no other divers by the time we went under. The first one was the Canyon, a deep dive, that has a very large Murray guarding the entrance of the Canyon, absolutely amazing!
The second was “The Bells – Blue Hole” which is a very nice entry site and nice corals but less fish and I had a good practice on my buoyancy as they did a bad job in Lebanon teaching me that, now it is fine!
In the afternoon it was relaxing and an early sleep as I really was finished. . .

28-12-2002  Boat Diving

Had a very bad sleep of say 5 hours and there are 3 dives planned for today.

The first one was a dive around “The Thislegorm” an English ship that was sank by a German Bomber in 1941.
Mr. Cousteau says its one of the three best wreck dives in the world? And it was!
The second dive took us inside the wreck and there are cars, trucks AND motorbikes inside. . . so I took some spare parts for my bike out. . . but it seams to be all English sizes. . . (Kidding)
Then it was a three hour journey back to “Ras Mohammed” Natural Park to do the third dive there. In between there was some sunbathing and a terrific lunch.
Dive three was at Shark Reef, but no sharks. . . but the corals garden there was just too beautiful to describe.
At sunset we sailed into the harbor of Sharm El Sheik, glad that I don?t stay in this town! It?s really touristy on by far not as relaxed as Dahab, so back into the bus to go back to Dahab, to meet some Dutch Over Landers (Bert and Francoise) who did this first stretch in 20 days! (As my planning was. . .)
Had a few beers with them and it was really funny to talk Dutch again as I haven’t done that is 2 month (except a little in Turkey after the first week) I think in English now and to hear me speak Dutch was VERY strange. . .
And after my 4th beer that day and three dives it was time to move to my bed as it was a feeling as if I was still on the boat 😉