Day 082-083 Egypt : Preparing to exit Egypt

Cost: Zero

Time: 5 hours

Elapsed time: 2 days

Ferry Costs: EP2002 land rover, EP311 per person 2nd class or EP469 per person first class

  Handy GPS Co-ordinates  
Nile Navigation Office N24.09908 E32.89965 Mr Salah (Manager)
Insurance Hospital
(beige brick building no signs)
N24.06329 E32.88425 Way point for Traffic Court
Traffic Court N24.06183 E32.88604  
Traffic Police N24.08381 E32.90841  

 

This entry covers the preparations required before a ferry ticket will or can be issued.

It seems that the ferry we are catching on 6 July is extremely busy - in fact it is full and passengers are being turned away.  We went to the Nile Navigation offices on Wednesday morning 1/7/09 to book our passage to Wadi Halfa on 6/7/09 thinking that as it was off-season we would be in plenty of time.  Not so.  It turns out that this ferry that only goes once a week is extremely busy and making this assumption is a little short-sighted.  However, we introduced ourselves to Mr Salah who is the manager here is Aswan, made a provisional booking for Sully and ourselves where he assured us that we were on the ferry, was invited to drink some tea which we did, had a chat to Mr Salah and off we went.  We had asked for a first class cabin (an additional EP168 each) but all first class cabins were booked so it's second class for us all the way.  A first class cabin has 2 bunk beds and air-conditioning but would have at least allowed us to escape the crowds into a cooler, more private spot.  C'est la vie.  Instead we will be sharing a spot up on deck with Amy and Paul, Jason and Mark (more about them later..) and upwards of 200 or 300 locals, baggage, livestock and children.  Sully and Mark and Jason's bikes "the bitches" will be travelling on a seperate barge and arriving in Wadi Halfa the day after we do (we hope).  On this cautionary note, Amy and Paul entered the office just after us on Wednesday morning and were told that there were no tickets left for the ferry but to come back on Saturday morning to check and perhaps there would be something available.

So on to the process. This cost us nothing although we have heard of others having to pay EP150 to hand the license plates back.

Day 1

We arrived on Saturday morning 4/7/09 at Mr Salah's office having been told that 2 bikers would be joining us and to complete the process together.  Mark from US and Jason from Australia, both now living and working in Ethiopia, arrived and off we went.  We had spoken to Mr Salah about using a fixer but they wanted to charge us US$50 each.  That's a bundle of money!!  Even outside of Egypt.  In Egypt it's equivalent to just under 1 month's salary.  He said not to use the fixer as he would direct us to where we need to go and what we needed to do.  He drew us a map, included the Arabic words for what we needed so that we could show people, and off we went.

First stop Traffic Court to swear that we had not had an accident or didn't have any outstanding traffic violations that needed to be paid before we departed from Egypt. 

To get there, the manual directions are: follow the Corniche (road) along the Nile south till you see the Egypt Air offices, follow the main road around to the left with the church on your right.  Keep going up the road that bends to the right and follow this for another approx 2.5km.  Look for the Insurance Hospital on the left (co-ord above).  If you are using Tracks4Africa, its just after the road with the fuel station and shop.  Note: If you see the Eye Hospital on the left, turn around as you have gone too far.  Turn around at the next break in the dual carriageway and at the Insurance Hospital turn right next to to it up a dirt road that looks as though its going nowhere.  Turn right onto the next dirt road then turn first left again.  The Traffic Court is on the left with a white police/guard box in front of it and opposite it a shop with a photocopier and coffee shop. 

The first official that you meet (a clerk perhaps?) is sitting on the pavement on a broken plastic stool with a broken chair in front of him being used as a table.  You hand the driver's passport and rosif (Egyptian license card given to you at entry) to him.  If you are in a group, he will only do these together.  He prepares some handwritten paperwork, walks across the road to take copies of your passport and rosif and hands the bundle back to you with a request for EP10 each for processing and photocopying.  At this stage Mark and Jason had been through a torrid time in Cairo getting their bikes released from Customs over a 4 day period and so were understandably wary of this request for money so we said that we would pay on receipt of our paperwork back to us.  Personally if you are doing this yourselves, hand over the requested EP10 immediately. 

You then take your bundle of copies to the barred window in the wall and we were told to come back in 30 minutes once they have checked everything over.  We went to a coffee shop across the road and sat drinking tea and chatting to pass the time.  After 30 minutes we went back to the window but were told 10 more minutes.  This time slot ended up being a wait of 2.5hours in total.  After about an hour we were called upstairs to wait outside another office.  Eventually Jason walked into the office to see what was going on and they told him there was a problem as there was an outstanding traffic violation on his plate from 2007 (more later about this date).  He had only entered Egypt 1 week ago and had his passport as proof, also his rosif was only validated from 2 days ago so the violation couldn't possibly be his.  He protested this for another hour but they insisted that it needed to be paid.  I went into the office in an attempt to ask for our paperwork but was dismissed with "you are all together, must be processed all together, one can't go without other".  Over a couple of beers later, we think it was an attempt to get some money from us hoping that with a long wait we would cave and all chip in.  We didn't.  Instead we waited it out knowing that there was still Sunday to get things sorted and eventually, after Jason spending hours convincing them that it wasn't his (his ability to read Arabic numbers helped because he spotted that it was from 2007, he wasn't told this), they released our paperwork to us (a small scrap of photocopied paper with some handwriting) and off we went to the Traffic Police.

The GPS co-ord is above but for manual directions: go back to the Egypt Air office and with it on your right turn up the first right with the office still on your right.  You head up up a hill but half way up your way is blocked by an island.  Turn right and drive for a couple of hundred metres to a break and drive back to the spot where you can continue on up the road. From here its 1.3km till you find the traffic police office on your right.  You will have passed a train station on your left just before this.

We found the office and went in.  Go to the last counter on the left for processing with the scrap of paper from the court, drivers passports and rosifs.  It was at this counter that a man approached me (the boys were all outside removing plates) to ask me if I needed help and as I was doing Sully and the bikes, took the paperwork from me.  At this stage I was tired so figured that it was a fixer and that we would probably need to pay him some money but I had run out of patience and energy so let him get on with it after finding out that he was a taxi driver. sigh.  He took me to another counter 3 windows up and handed in the documents, they issued another piece of paper which he took along with the rosifs and asked me for the plates which I gave to him.  We went around the left hand side of the building with this piece of paper, the rosifs and the plates.  The plates and rosifs were returned to a man who issued another piece of paper.  Off we went back to the counter and handed this in.  Another piece of paper was created and the driver handed all 3 to me and the boys. 

"Bikam?" I asked him.  (Translate: How much?)

"Ana?" he said  (Translate: Me?)

"Naa-am," I said  (Translate: Yes)

"La, no money," he said.  (Translate: none needed)

I was stumped.  What, no money??????  He had just helped us out of the goodness of his heart and was upset that I had thought he wanted money.  To Kamal, I'm sorry, mate, thank you from the bottom of my heart, you are a kind and generous person and we truly appreciated your help.  God bless you.

This process took all of 10 minutes, cost nothing and were on our way back to Mr Salah to get our tickets.  We arrived back at his office but he had already left so we were told to come back at 10am on Sunday - the following day.

We all went our seperate ways.  Trevor and I went back to the hotel to meet up with Amy and Paul (who by this time had been issued with tickets after a 4 hour wait - hooray!) to watch the bokke play England for the last of the test matches.  We ended up at Emy restaurant where they sold beer but discovered that the satellite dish wasn't their's and the TV not available.  No!  We drank our beer and went back to the hotel with a few more cans to "watch" the match on a text based website on the internet.  We had never done that before but sat and watched and listened to Paul reading out the commentary as the English score racked up and the SA team sat back and revelled in the fact that they had already won so could let England recover some dignity. 

Whilst Amy and I went out shopping Trevor and Paul met up with Mark and Jason for another few bevvies.  When we came back, Amy and I made a lentil curry, rice and salads for everyone using the hotel kitchen again and we all sat up late into the night in the hotel dining room chatting about our forthcoming crossing to Sudan.

Day 2

Sunday morning and Trevor and I met up with Jason and Mark at Mr Salah's office at 10am as directed.  At 11:45am he eventually called us in and with a brief glance at our paperwork from the traffic police, issued Trevor's and my ferry tickets.  We asked him again about a first class cabin but still nothing.  Mark and Jason handed their passports to Mr Salah but he dismissed them crossly as their Sudanese visas had expired and told them in no uncertain terms to get them extended at the local Sudanese Embassy in Aswan.  Off they went.  Could anything else go wrong for them????  Later in the day we heard that they had got the extensions and were on the ferry as well. Phew!

After Jason and Mark had left, we went to Mr Salah and asked him if we could give him something for having saved us so much with the fixer (not in time of course but definitely money).  He refused and said that he did not want money to interfere with our friendship.  We are surprised unexpectedly at each turn as we meet genuinely nice people who are just doing their jobs and trying to avoid the trap of baksheesh and backhanders.  So, if you are in the area and need Mr Salah's help and you want to give him something to say thanks - he likes to read English books and likes to have you write a note inside it so that he can remember you.  But check with him first to make sure that he's ok with it.  He's a straight up man, religious, honest, helpful and will tell you as it is. 

#1 John Cox on 7.06.2009 at 10:06 AM

Thanks for all the info I do like having my ground scouts out there making our job a lot easyer,so enjoy the ferry and wadi Halfa as you wait for Sully.

Hope all goes well and stay safe and well John.

***

Oh my god, John, but the transfer from the barge at Wadi Halfa to the dock was the most frightening thing to experience - and that was just watching Trevor do it!!! I hope that they get it sorted before you do it.  Having said that, as bad as is was, many people of done it already and everything has been fine, so bear that in mind!!!!  Just get ready to strap on your balls of steel!!! :o))))

 

#2 salah on 7.11.2009 at 11:59 AM

Hi

I hope every thing goes well with you,so I am waiting to here from you.

Salah

Nile co. for transport

Booking office