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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : A hitch-hiker in the country of the Pharaons... way back to Egypt

Egypt, a country which makes dream when we pronounce his name. That makes you think quickly to the pyramids, the valley of the Nile...

Yes, ok, as I am getting used to it, you will not have the chance to red a tourist booklet. Here, it is the truth, only the truth!

I will try to make you a correct description of what I could live and feel in this country which constituted for me the entry in the African continent. 

Egypt, its beautiful if you are a tourist 

AsI know that you cant wait anymore, I will start with what is, for us European, the picture of Egypt: Pyramids.

Egypt is a country which has the chance to have a huge cultural history which let on his ground a very impressive cultural inheritance.

The Pharaons period, which the best years were very roughly between -3200 BC and -300 BC was a civilization which let us today the possibility to discover the pyramids and the Sphinx in Gizeh (in the capital Cairo), the temples of Louxor, Karnak or even Abou Simbel. 

The Sphinx and the pyramid of Kephren 

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I can tell you that those constructions are impressive to see closely, although we saw them many times in different medias. Moreover, the largest of the pyramids of Gizeh is the only one monument from the Old 7 Wonders of the World still able to see. 

A hitch-hiker in front of the pyramids 

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Having going down along the Nile valley, I have been able to observe closely the 5% of the country which is not made of desert. The valley of the Nile is very pleasant and very flourishing. All the agriculture is stocking along the banks of what is one of the largest river of the world. 

A luxuriant vegetation on the banks of the Nile 

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This way down the Nile is mainly made by cruising boats getting the tourists to the towns of Louxor and finally Aswan. In Louxor, those one stop and can admire the temples of Louxor, Karnak and the valley of the kings. As many splendid evidence of amazing civilizations.

The street of the Sphinx on the entrance of the temple of Karnak in Louxor 

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Yes, of course, Egypt is beautiful is you visit it as a tourist 

Here I am trying to be a part of a fresco

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Fortunately, I could get off the touristic road for a while to be able to observe some other places in Egypt, but in my way. 

Cairo, capital of the country and huge megapole of approximately 20 millions inhabitants.

I stayed around one week in this super big city, which, because of its size. I did n't like. The biggest problem in this kind of cities (Istanbul got these same problems) are the traffic and the pollution. Pollution, I could breathe it daily and the days of high temperature, we can distinguish it clearly. 

The cloud of pollution is easy to see on the day of high temperature

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The egyptians see large as the city of Cairo can show it to you. Likewise, the construction of the Suez Canal was a huge building site. This building site, made by a French company (by Ferdinand de Lesseps) between 1859 and 1869 employed 1,5 million of egyptians (!) from who approximately 10% died for this moment. This channel makes possible to the boats to pass directly from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean without making a large way around Africa. Suez Canal is long of 173 kilometers and allows even very big cargos to take this shortcut.

A cargo cross the Suez Canal, in Suez 

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Hitch-hiking in Egypt

 ... was a challenge in itself. A challenge which however hasn't been so difficult. Indeed, the concept of hitch-hiking is quite simply unknown here and to find cars, it was necessary for me to change my way of doing which consists to wait along the road and trying to stop the cars. Thus, you will understand why I didn't find personally any car in Egypt but I have however succeed to cross the country and to make 1500 kilometers by hitch-hiking.

In this country of the North-East of Africa, everything is about money. So when we stop a car, it is for me very important to explain my project to not pay for the way of travelling. So I quickly ended in the various police stations along the road (they called it there "Checkpoint"). So I had to explain at each Checkpoint the goal of my project and the various police officers made the work to stop a car at my place.

I even could experiment for the first time by this way the train-hitch-hiking between the cities of Raghagha and Louxor. This story of train-stop was the final of a long day of 30 hours by hitch-hiking at the end which the police officers get me away from them by putting me in a train at the expenses of the company. 

Here I am in Louxor after a long day of 30 hours by hitch-hiking (the famous train keep on going behind me)

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So I tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen, hitch-hiking is indeed possible in Egypt!

 In Egypt, the money controls 

As I said, in Egypt everything is about money and in general the prices are not fixed. Then according to the customer and especially if you are a tourist, you will pay a different price. The rules? There is not! There are just some little tricks to know but most of the time you will be subjected to the goodwill of the salesman then... be ready to be a good donor!

The 3 rules which I quickly could understand if you want to approach the egyptian price are:

- To speak the language. For me, it was difficult to learn in a few weeks to speak Arabic. This solution was not really adequate for me.

- To know the person. It is already more possible but that need time and if you are really hungry... so wait for the third rule!

- To be lucky. It sometimes happened to me to see an egyptian paying the same thing than me but before me. In that way, impossible (though) for the salesman to ask me more than the money he asked to the egyptian.

Why the money is so important here? Well as you can have some doubt, the country is victim of a strong economic crisis and the people are mainly poor. Thus, to see tourists full of dollars can only attract the salesman to do the maximum to get some benefit. So we can see children coming and begging money, the salesman are running to you in the streets and it is true that after Syria and Jordan, we can find that strange but this is the truth. 

The European dream 

I felt it much more in Egypt than anywhere so far. A number of stories of Egyptians that I met there and which share their wish to me: To be able to come to live in Europe. Europe is for them synonymous of success, money and freedom. So no more backchich for the police force, no more problem to nourish the family and the possibility to marry "a beautiful woman with blond hair" told those two men met on the bank of the Nile in Louxor and working for the municipality. 

"Europe, this is the possibility to marry a beautiful woman with blond hairs" told me those two men

 

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 A separation Man/Woman in the life of everyday

Egypt is a Moslem country, so the woman has a different place in the society. Indeed, to not succumb to the temptation, the contacts between men and women (who don't know each other) are ruled in the Egyptian society. Thus, in the subway of Cairo for example, you have a train for the men and a train for the women. 

The subway in Cairo, in green the train for women, in red the train for men 


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It has been difficult for me to obtain the opinion of the Egyptian women about this situation but this opinion finally appeared to me mitigates: some told me that they were living very well this situation and others would like to obtain a little more freedom. For my part, I will not give any answer about this question because I don't know enough the way of thinking of the Egyptian society. 

To conclude 

Egypt is a very nice country to visit, for its monuments but we shouldn't going back home thinking only to the beauty of the buildings which we have seen. Egypt also has its problems and it is good to know them to be able to have an idea of how to avoid them.

Egypt, mainly of Islamic religion, is a country where it is easy to meet people, who really want to know you, to rest you (of course you have also bad people like everywhere). The accesses to the human needs like water made me discover some strange stuff which can be not very hygienic but ingenious for sure. Indeed I could see several jars full of water stocked on a wall and the people come to be watered there when the need is done. 

Some jars full of water to help the people to get watered

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About myself, my goal is now to join Sudan and for this reason, it is necessary for me to cross the Nasser Lake which is in the South of Egypt and which finishes in the North of Sudan. This passage of this border is only naval so my idea is to cross it by boat-hitch-hiking. After the failure for the passage of the Red Sea in Jordan, will I have learned from my mistake? 

The next in a following newsletter 

I let you with a picture of my first intervention in a school in Aswan 

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See you soon

 Jeremy

 



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