Monday, January 10, 2011

Pigs Get Slaughtered

I may have checked out of the game early, but I still regard Gordon Gecko as a pillar of wisdom. And, his words 'pigs get slaughtered' ran through my mind this morning as I pedaled my way out of Alexandria.
Starting from my hotel in the dark, I made my way around the sea wall to the Biblioteca Alexandria as the sun was coming up. From there, it was a long haul south and east to get out of the city. Traffic mayhem. No shoulder. Strange smells. Heavy road debris. But a beautiful sunrise.
People don't smile and wave here like they do in Guatemala. It's more of a glare, bordering on a stink eye. I'm sure that they don't mean anything negative by it. But, just in case, I made my pit stops brief.
The best stop was at Omar's Cafe, which was almost precisely at the half way point. My egyptian friend Joerg had recommended the feteer here. I think that I might be addicted. Perfect cycling food!
Traffic was courteous (relative to Calgary), but challenging. The most crazy one out there was my driver. Except for the time that he hit me while trying to sneak a picture of me on his cell phone, I think that I was safer on the bike than I would have been in the car.
It was only after he took me down with his car that he understood that I did not want him to take pictures of me while he was driving. So, he switched to practicing his english while driving, which involved reading out of his book (while driving) and then shouting a phrase out the window at me.
Naturally, it was hard to hear, which made responding difficult. So, I asked him to stop. After that, he just played music and would clap to it with both hands or try to impress me with his dance moves. It was so sweet that I couldn't bear to ask him to stop that.

By the nine hour mark, we were in Cairo and 244km of the 248km journey were under my belt. It should have been smooth sailing, but my driver was confused about the final destination. So, we went on an hour long tour of a major street in Cairo - Champs Elysees style (albeit a bit less glamourous).

When we eventually got on the right track, a police car pulled over my drivers car. The communication barrier between me and my driver made it impossible for me to know what exactly the problem was, but I could tell by the look on his face that it was serious. It took 1000 egyptian pounds to get us out of the situation and back en route to the hotel.

Not a bad intro to cycling in Egypt, but the trip was not without challenges. I've got another 12,000 or so kilometres ahead of me...and no doubt some more unexpected challenges. Along the way, I'll try to reflect on this experience whenever I feel tempted to try to grab more. I'm caught between wanting to have it all and knowing that, eventually, pigs do get slaughtered.


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