June 25, 2024

Staying with an Egyptian family in the Western desert

We struggled to get up early as it was very cold outside. The setting was beautiful in the morning light…

Good morning
Dressing up warmly we set off towards Baghdad trying to eat up the kilometres. Early on this strategy however fell a bit flat when we reached the first security check point. The official, speaking no English at all, were clearly impressed with us and our bikes and ordered us to come with him to his house next to the road. We were in the middle of nowhere and not too keen to go with him. He however lured us there by saying that there was documentation to be completed.

The house was dilapidated and as we entered the room there was a guy sleeping on a bed snuggled in a blanket. He then started boiling water and we soon realised he was making tea for us. There was only one chair which he pulled out and then he pointed to the bed where the man was sleeping telling us that one can sit there at his feet. Obviously we declined and Francois luckily found a water tank to sit on. Once the tea arrived we headed for the outside of the house again telling him that we wanted to stand in the sunshine. Thank goodness this worked. He asked the usual questions, which all revolved around our marital status. We gulped down the tea and tried to get out as fast as possible. I don’t think they see a lot of tourists in this area and the lack of English just adds to the eeriness of this experience. Creeeepy! Haha I didn’t think he meant to scare us, but for us it was a bit too much.

Here we took a photo on the way to Baghdad. The Arabic signs make you feel very far from home…

The raod to Baghdad
It was also very cold on the bikes, we never thought it possible to be so cold in a desert!

Cold desert
The next few security check points went better and I tried to make myself invisible each time. This worked a bit better and we managed to get out of a few more tea drinking invitations. Finally at Baghdad the road turned North again and we moved on towards Al Kharga. About 10 km before reaching Al Kharga we saw a welcome sight – three Amaroks with the Voetspore team passed us from behind! We were glad to see them. This all added to the feeling that the last part of our journey has turned into an episode of the Amazing Race, all travelling with different modes of transport :o) We had a feeling that time and again in the next few days we will pass each other back and forth along the road to Alexandria. For us lunch breaks turned into F1 pit stops, making the stop as short as possible, and tea drinking officials becoming obstacles to avoid as we had a massive amount of kilometres to complete within the next few days.

In Al Kharga we had lunch with the Voetspore team, always nice to catch up with them and then we set off for Dakhla Oasis. The road there was beautiful winding through the desert, though the 250 km stretch took us a long time at about 80km/ph. The result – sore bumbs!

Sore bumbs
By sun set we have just passed Dakhla Oasis and were aiming to camp in the desert. It was getting a bit late and there were still some small villages so we stopped at some point to discuss the best place to camp.

As we discussed this, two men on a donkey cart stopped next to us to ask if we need help. They spoke no English and with hand signs we tried to show that we were looking for a place to sleep and asked if it was save to camp here. He said everything is safe here, but it is too cold out here and if we wanted we can sleep at his house tonight. We decided to give it a try as he looked sincere and didn’t pressure us to join them. So off we went behind the donkey cart on to his house. His house was a building with mud walls, enclosed with a few low walls to keep the chickens and donkeys inside. He told us to bring the bikes inside, which was nice.

Inside, his wife, two daughters and young boy greeted us all giggling at the sight of the funny looking strangers. They also didn’t speak English, though the eldest girl, Hoda, which was completely covered in black gown with only slits for her eyes, could speak very limited English which helped. Our stay here turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip as we conversed with hand signs and noises the whole time. Our Lonely Planet Guide of Egypt had a few words and phrases at the back so we used it to chat some more. We learned that we were in a village called Henna Garb Meyho [sic]. Later on his wife (we called her Mama as it was easiest) brought us a delicious meal made up of labne, falafel, dates and rice wrapped in spinach. They just kept on bringing out more food until we were so full we could not eat any more.

The bed where we had to sleep was in the dining area and at about 8pm they said that we should go to bed, but instead of leaving, they all watched while Mr. Ahmed Omar put us in bed and tucked us in with a few blankets. It was very funny and we both giggled as we can’t remember when last someone tucked us in this way. He was a very sincere good man. They all left then and turned off the light as they closed the door. What a great experience… here is our bedroom:

Our bedroom

4 thoughts on “Staying with an Egyptian family in the Western desert

  1. Haai julle ek is so-oo bly julle het ‘n goeie ervaring in Egipte gehad. Wys jou almal is nie skelm en fixers nie. Luv. V1x

  2. The Good Samarathan of Egypt!! Dit was ‘n seën anders moes jul weer die koue getrotseer het.

  3. Hallo julle! So bly julle is weer op die lug. Julle reis deur die woestyn klink BAIE na ‘n amazing race!

  4. 90 DAYS!!!! GELUK!!! Amazing (race….)! As’n mens na Voetspore se foto’s kyk, is daai woestynpad ongelooflik, byna bonatuurlik, en dit saam met die warm familie-ontvangs lees soos ‘n storieboek! ‘Priceless’! Bly julle is veilig in Alexandria. Liefde, uit Kleinmond. (Di. terug op plaas)

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