Day 046: Switching to Survival Mode

Trip Start Aug 15, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  , Nile River Valley,
Sunday, October 2, 2011

4 hours

The next day it happens. After dragging myself outside to go for a short walk around town and take my videoclip of Sohag, I go back to my room, which reeks of insecticide, gaze out my window with a view of filth and squalor as far as the eye can see… and make my decision.

This adventure is over.  As much as I'd like to keep going and to add Luxor to my collection, I’ve got to know when to quit.  I’m going to switch from Adventure Mode to Survival Mode, and focus all my energy on making it back to Cairo and from Cairo back to Casablanca.  No more pictures, no more hikes… no more discoveries.  All my energy will be focused on getting my strength back and getting well.

Egypt has beaten me down again and again on this trip—and finally broken me.

Finished Country: Egypt

Population80 million

Country:       36th  in Global Minstrel Tour

Rank:            10th most explored country (2012B)

Towns:         31 (1005-1031, 1096-1099) (A quarter of the forecast of 121)

Days:            20 (August 20-Sept 2, Sept 27-Oct 2, 2011) (a third of the forecast of 60)

Hours:           254      Average per Town: 8.1   Average per Day: 12.7

Encounters: 17       Average per Town: 0.5    Average per Day: 0.9

Kilometers:   334.7  Average per Town: 10.7   Average per Day: 16.7

Photos:         302   Average per Town: 9.7   Average per Day: 15.1

Video Clips33     Average per Town: 1.1    Average per Day: 1.7

Memories:        Average per Town:    Average per Day:

Words:          26,788

Intertown Hikes (3): 1011 Tanta-Mshi Ganzor-Sanadi- Zenara-Krfas Sucarn-1021 Babi Kafr Hammam (32.2 kms), 1022 Mit Ghamr-Zifta (33 kms)  

SUPERHIKE: GREATER CAIRO: 5 Towns, 119.1 Kilometers: Cairo-Giza-Shubra El Kheima-Abu Sena-Qalyub

Prize Winning Towns ():


Egypt, a country I thought would be a piece of cake, turned out to be my most difficult country to date where I got robbed, conned and seriously ill.  I also found it to be quite tourist unfriendly once you get off the beaten track with very real dangers lurking in the idyllic farm countryside.   However, I did have some wonderful encounters, discoveries and experiences here which tipped the scales making it a more positive than negative experience.


I’ll divide Egypt into 4 sections which I explored:

1. Greater Cairo Superhike (7 towns). I hiked from the airport in the east to the pyramids of Giza in the west, and from Coptic Cairo to the delta farm villages in the north.  I visited a couple suburbs via the subway for good measure—definitely feels like I experienced Cairo.

2. The Nile Delta (14 towns) Thousands of villages that could be explored here—but after 14 and a couple of very unpleasant experiences, I felt I’d seen enough.  It’s quite depressing to see so much squalor in the most naturally blessed regions in the Middle East.

3. Suez and the Sinai (7 towns) After the misery and filth of the Delta, this region felt like a breath of fresh air.  Port Said and Ismailia were downright pleasant… and once you head down the Sinai you forget that you’re in Egypt and you feel like you’re in some hippy Shangri-La, enjoying the good life completely disconnected from the world.  Dahab was by a wonderful, but very un-Egyptian experience.

4. Southern Egypt (3 towns) I was miserably sick this time, which sort of clouded my feelings towards this region and Egypt as a whole.  Finally reached my breaking point in Sohag and decided to call it quits.  Can’t exactly claim to be an authority on Southern Egypt I guess.

In Conclusion

I may go back to Egypt someday--there still are some pretty major archaeological sites that I didn’t get to.  But I don’t feel I have any obligation to do go back.  So I’m going to go ahead and call it a "finished country" so I can move on and not feel like I’ve got an half-done chapter calling me back.  There are still 155 countries calling me, so I’m under no pressure to rush back to a country that didn’t exactly give me the warmest welcome. Sure, I missed Luxor, but  I got a taste of the “real” Egypt—something that few tourists do. 

It’s true that I only explored a fraction of the towns that I’d forecasted I’d visit… but I’ll be more than happy to make up the difference somewhere else… like Morocco… a country I’m coming to appreciate more and more as I see that being able to wander all over a cheap, third world country freely is not something to take for granted.
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