Friday 26 December 2008

21st December 08

Date: 21st December 08
Location: Soloum, Egypt
Weather: Clear blue skies and sunshine, 28°c
Status: About to undertake a monster drive…..

The past day has been spent feeling hugely frustrated and having to deal with the reality that there’s no way I’ll be able to make it home now in time to run the final marathon on Xmas Eve or to be with my friends and family over the Xmas period, Balls.

But the next challenges have to be realised and an attempt made to get the correct stamps in our relevant passports which will carry us through the next stage of the trip and Libya. Our destination for the day was to be Alexandria, the home of all three consulates for the relevant countries or so we thought. Mum and Dad had managed to find the addresses of each of them using the power of the internet and we finally set off at just after midnight on the 1000kms round trip to the east and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

I drove for five hours and finally the sun started to show its face over the horizon as we were entering the city limits and we made our way to the seafront as there were a few hours to spare until the first of the embassies opened at 8am. The Mecca Hotel had a particularly helpful receptionist who said that instead of hiring a taxi for the day we could use him at no charge, so he was employed. His shift finished at 8m and we all made our way in the Colonel to the British Consul and I went to present my passport to them.

After only 10 minutes I was back out on the street complete with fully translated stamp just as the Libyan’s had asked for so the mission continued with all of us wishing that the rest of the day would go just as well. That thought lasted for just under an hour as we found the addresses for both the Canadian and Dutch consulates but ones which they had moved out of six months prior to our arrival!

The embassies for each have now taken responsibility and are based in Cairo, some 220kms away and the last words we really wanted to hear! We paid off our guide and left the outskirts of the city just after 10am with a new drive and determination to get these damn things finished if it killed us.

Driving straight to the Dutch embassy was the order of the day and Kees rushed out to collect his stamp….except they wouldn’t offer one until 2pm….so to the Canadian one! There story was that they would fill in the English version but not the Arabic one which would need a translator to do it! The short of the story is we managed to get everything we wanted and had all three passports completed just after 4pm, and after taking a massively wrong turning out of the city finally got to the Carrefour supermarket to stock up at 7.30pm

A ‘short’ 750kms drive awaited me after the 10hrs already completed and surprisingly it went very quickly, that was untli the final 100kms which dragged on and as I nodded like a tired dog but managed with the help of cold air and loud music to keep myself awake. Not recommended in the Highway Code I know but essential to keep us moving as intended.

End of day location: Soloum, Egypt
Distance covered: 1468kms

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