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Pole to Pole

Day 62: Aswan to Wadi Halfa

Aswan, Egypt 
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Above deck on the Sinai.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleOur own polar Mecca is still many thousands of miles off, but as the sun sets we cross the line of the Tropic of Cancer, and feel we are making progress.

Basil, busy avoiding the attentions of a mullah who is trying to convert him, has discovered the dining-room and, with the proviso that we bring our own plates and cutlery, is recommending it for dinner. Carrying my camp cutlery set (made in China) I fight my way to the galley, only to find the door barred by a tall, turbaned figure with a gaze of dervish-like intensity. Like some maītre d' gone berserk he occasionally emerges to deal very fiercely with the queue, thrusting them back and shooing them away. It turns out that the dining-room is also the immigration office and very few people are queuing for the food. Chicken noodle soup, followed by macaroni (which I am assured is a typically Egyptian dish) with a pungent meat and tomato sauce, chicken, chips and fresh baked faturia - crisp, bap-like bread rolls - are eaten to the accompaniment of constant tapping at the portholes by those wanting to have their passports (pale blue for Sudan and green for Egypt) examined and processed.

Whenever I have ventured into the washing and lavatory area it has been full of people cleaning their feet before prayer, and now the basins are blocked and water sloshes around the floor. The squat toilets are foul-smelling and permanently full.

To bed, climbing into my own sheet sleeping bag for the first time, and donning my head-torch to read about conditions during the siege of Khartoum in 1884, which don't sound a lot different from what we're undergoing now.
Aswan, Egypt 
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Below deck on the Sinai.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 62
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Aswan
  • Book page no: 135

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