Sunday, January 04, 2009

Breanna

...And then that was it, Savannah was gone. The first out of the original four to head back home for good. Her trip completed. I couldn’t really grasp what was happening until it hit me later that day. Wow. The trip was no longer the same. Bye, bye my wee little sister, such good times we’ve had. It won’t be too long before I see her again because my trip has only a few weeks left to run before we meet up again on Canadian soil. When the family started the trip together I always assumed that we would also finish it together and all of us would head home on the same plane. This as you can see was not the case.
Mom, Dad and Ammon will continue to roam around this planet until winter ends at home, they run out of money, something crazy happens and they are sent back to Canada, miss everyone too much, or realise that at some point they have to start their life’s back at home once again. Of course I don’t want this adventure to end! Kees, Ben and I split off from them in Cairo Egypt. A sad goodbye indeed but one we had to repeat only a few days later......
Let me explain. Off to the Libyan border we drove with hope in our hearts that we’d make the boat back to Europe in time for Christmas, wrongfully assuming our final interaction with African politics would go smoothly....Haha!
Once we left the family we drove to the border over a number of days wasting time until we received a call from Sammy, our Libyan fixer, to meet him at the border where we would collect our visas and continue through the country with the obligatory guide required for even the shortest journey in this paranoid, socialist country. We were ready to go at the drop of a pin from our hotel camp 15 kms from the border and on the morning of Dec 18th we left the town of Soloum without Egyptian police escort and arrived at the traffic police office so Ben and Kees could start the lengthy process of handing back their Egyptian number plates and receiving the relevant stamps on their carnets.
We were officially stamped out of Egypt and in no-man's land where we met our guide Mr Ahmed who had driven for 7 hours from Benghazi to meet us with all the relevant paper work for us and the trucks. We presented ourselves to the gate officials who checked everything and decided to develop an irritating problem with the Arabic translation in our passports which developed into a point blank refusal for entry into the country. CRAP! Ben and Kees were pissed off. They would only allow us entry with an official translation stamp from each of our relevant embassies 750 kms back the way we came in Cairo!!
We were stuck in no-man's land for a while because the Libyans wouldn’t let us go forward and the Egyptians were being supremely difficult at reissuing the vehicle licence plates and cancelling the exit stamps in our passports. After 5 hours of battling and visiting office after office we retired to Kees’s truck for the night much to the disgust of the police who instead wanted us to return to the border town leaving our vehicles in their compound....yeah, as IF.
At first light we started the process again and surprisingly had everything completed and left through the exit gate only a few hours later. The next day the three of us including Bindhi left at just after midnight in Ben’s truck to start what would be a 1500 km round trip back to Egypt’s capital via Alexandria to visit each of our embassies for new translations. Once everything was finished we took a quick stop off back at the Sultan Hotel to visit the remaining members of the family for our second farewell in a week, complete with koshary and a juice bar visit! Yum.
I’ll tell you a funny story... A year ago when Mom, Dad, Ammon, Savannah and I were just leaving Cairo, Egypt I said “What would you do if in one year from now we were back here?” They laughed and said it wouldn’t happen and yet there we were. Then just as Kees, Ben and I were leaving the first time, I joked and said the same thing “What would you do if in one year from now you ended up back here??” and a week later there we stood in the same spot. Hahaha. I’ll watch what I say from now on.

We eventually made it into Libya at the second attempt but the delay we’d suffered meant there was no chance of making our boat from Tunisia on the 21st and instead would have to settle for the later date of the 28th giving us a different Christmas in Africa.
We only spent a grand total of 3 days in Libya but we did have enough time to visit the most preserved Roman ruins in the world, Leptis Magna and they were amazing!! A complete coastal city built around 300 BC. All the structures including the roads, baths, arena, cathedral, theatre, market area, light house and port were a stunning original and from them it would be easy to see quite how life would have been back then. Wow. I have always loved the Roman style with all the pillars! Beautiful! Ammon said that if I hadn’t gone he would have disowned me. lol
We spent Christmas in Iles de Jerbera, Tunisia. Ben and I stayed in a luxurious hotel with all the trimmings and meals included! Oooo La la! In the afternoon Kees, Ben and I we went ATVing (quad bikes) along the beach and through the sandy tracks which interlace the town. I have been talking non-stop about doing this for the past few weeks (I must have become very annoying) because I have always wanted to do it!! You can imagine the huge smile that was plastered across my face for the entire trip. Unfortunately our guide either had a really slow bike or he didn’t want us to have the fun that we craved. So every time he had his back turned and was looking the other way Kees, Ben and I immediately played the naughty students by sliding, wheel spinning and generally abusing the machines. It was so much fun!!
It’s been Ben's sole mission to find anywhere in Africa (apart from South Africa) where they can cook a steak properly….which means RARE! Since this was the last chance he had before going back to Europe we headed off to a Texas Steak house for a final attempt and once again they failed. I gave up on hoping for good steak a while back and ordered a Caesar salad. After that we headed off to the only active place in town. A small bar with a 2-lane, 10-pin bowling alley. We were the only non locals there of course. It was quite funny goofing off and laughing loads at each other with our lame attempts and random strikes while even wearing Santa hats! Haha! Good times.
We caught a boat from Tunisia to Italy on the 28th of Dec. At the first gas station the three of us popped into Kees’ truck for our final super before separating for good. Some mighty sandwiches we had!! It’s too weird to say goodbye to someone you have spent so much time with because you can’t really grasp the concept of not seeing them for a really, really long time. After some big hugs and a group photo Ben and I were off. It was only when I looked in my mirror and watched the big truck with Kees and Bindhi inside slowly started to fade into the distance because they couldn’t keep up (we do call the truck the yellow tortoise for a reason) that I got sad but it was more of the thought that we were taking off, not waiting for him and not joining back up again that made me cry. A realization that this trip is really coming to an end and it isn’t going to be the big group of best buddies travelling together any more. That sucked.
Ben and I raced on because Ben had to get back to run his marathon on new years eve. We drove through the night and passed through Italy and Switzerland. Slept in a very cold tent for a few hours rest at 2am and were up driving before I knew I had fallen asleep. Onwards through France and to England by the next night. My conclusion of the drive....Italy is the land of tunnels, Switzerland is freezing, in France every road has a toll to pay, and England has people with funny accents who I mimic and joke about.
Early the next morning after no sleep and hardly any food or training Ben was running his last marathon to the town square where all his friends, family and camera crew/media were waiting for his grand arrival back home. He was pretty shattered at the end but happy to see all the smiling faces. Well done Ben. I took photos and was introduced to too many people to remember all the names. Eeek. Now he is busy being the superstar and Mr Popular with all his interviews, phone calls and visiting people. Wow.
I am off to London and will be back asap..tell you about that later!
I’ll keep you lot posted and I’ll be back before you know it!
Bre

2 Comments:

At 2:10 PM , Blogger The Bear said...

I have no idea what the crap above is anyways, on to the post.

Hey Bre,
I felt sad when I read about the group breaking up, and everyone going off on their own, I too thought you would all be home at the same time. Of course now you have read about their itinerary towards the warmth of the sun.....any plan changes? LOL
I hope Britain has been all you hoped and wished for, and that you have been able to answer the nagging questions. But doubt all will be answered, that is life.
You'll have to keep us up on the rest of the adventure....... oh yeah Vancouver has had almost 5 feet of snow over the past 3 weeks..... sunshine ..... snow...... phillipines....home....... sorry couldn't resist.

Love always and Big Big Bear Hugs
Your Friend
The Bear

 
At 4:29 AM , Anonymous Jean-Marc Zweifel said...

Hey Bre
Well, Switzerland is normally cold that time of the year, but why didn't you inform me? There's always a warm and nice bed for friends in our home. ;-)

Next Time! OK?

Greetings from Switzerland

 

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