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June 14, 2007

LOCATION: Wadi Halfa, northern Sudan

LOCATION: Wadi Halfa, northern Sudan
Longitude: N:21deg.48'00.
Latitude: E: 031deg.20'56.
Kms from Djibouti: 3,213

Still no word from the Egyptians, just a request for 'more information', which they already have. I'm beginning to lose hope that they're going to give me permission to paddle across the border. Every morning at 11 o'clock I call 'Hadija', the personal assistant to the Egyptian ambassador, to see if there's been word back from Cairo. Each time I am put on hold and the same merry-go-round music played on a cheap synthesizer comes on the line, which is apt seeing as that all I'm getting from them is the merry-go-round treatment. Each time Hadija comes back on the line and tells me there has been no response. Hrummph.


I've even modified my request to paddle just to Abu Simbel, a mere 40 miles north of Wadi Halfa, then continue by bike on the sealed road from there up to Aswan. This way they don't have to provide an escort boat for the 2.5 weeks it will otherwise take to paddle the entire lake. But I don't think it really makes a difference at this point. Perhaps they're just stalling in the hope that I'll just give up and go away.

Which after 13-years isn't going to happen. They don't realize it of course, but they've put me into an impossible situation where I have to give it a go regardless. I've given them 3-weeks to give a response, a reasonable amount of time I believe for anyone to make up their mind on anything. And now my visa for Sudan has expired, so I'm in Sudan illegally. The attractions and distractions that Wadi Halfa have to offer dried up within an hour of arriving here, so don't think I can stay here for too much longer before either A. Sudanese immigration kick me out anyway or B. I lose my mind waiting in this torpid town.


I have thus resolved to leave tomorrow morning to paddle at least to the border, 12 nautical miles to the north. Mazar Mahir, the well-known local fixer, has made arrangements with the Sudanese security so at least they know what I'm up to on this side of the fence. In an ideal world I'd then zip up to Abu Simbel and back again under cover of darkness, and without the Egyptians catching me. But the reality of what happens will depend largely on how closely I am tailed by the Sudanese security boat, and how observant they are on the 22 degree line of latitude: apparently there is an Egyptian observation post located one side of the lake, facing a Sudanese post on the other. Both sides watch each other and of course the lake in between.


The folbot kayak and all the gear are ready to go. Mazar and I set it up on the lake shore the other day and took it out for spin. I have 10-days worth of supplies ready. Water can be taken straight from the lake and drunk with iodine droplets. My bike plus associated kit have already gone ahead to Aswan on yesterday's ferry with some folks I met here a few days ago: Tom Wilson, a Brit, on his way home after backpacking up from Cape Town; and Kurt and Dorothy, a Swiss and German respectively, also cyclists who have been on the road for 9-years having ridden over 140,000 kms through all the major continents, now on their way home to Cologne to look after Dorothy's elderly parents. I am very grateful to all of them for helping out. Ditto to Mazar and Midhat Mahir who have been so helpful here in Sudan with logistics.


> Total to raise: $4,500
> Total raised to date: $4,050
> Total still to raise: $450

Sincerest thanks to the following for your pledges -
- Karen Bossen, USA, $50
- Wendy Bumgardner, USA, $50
- Will Waller, Dublin, $100
- Casey Dunn, USA, $100
- Anonymous, USA, $250
- The Sheltons, UK, $1,000
- Michael Rawlings, UK, $50
- Crister Brady, US, $50
- Karl Kaseoru, US, $500
- John and Bridget Maxwell, UK, $50
- Jennifer Mackenzie, US, $50
- Ian McCormick, UK, $200
- Terry Mason, California USA, $200
- Jackie and Jean Bernard, Djibouti, $250.
- Erden Eruc and Nancy Board of Around n Over, Seattle USA, $250
- Sharon Kessler, Colorado USA, $500
- Jane Koca, San Jose USA, $50
- John Caldwell, San Jose USA, $100
- Greg Kolodziejzyk of Pedal the Ocean, Canada, $250

Posted on June 14, 2007 5:42 PM