Wednesday, 17 July 2013

"The Dust Bin of Africa"

 SUDAN is  nicknamed" The Dust Bin of Africa " for many good reasons. It is also the country in sub-Sahara Africa with the largest amount of bureaucracy of any on the continent.  The Sudanese stamps in my passport that recorded the endless details that seem to serve no purpose, are also my favourite!  My interest in the desert started as a child and a grade school science project. Now many years later I am still learning. Carcasses of hundreds of camels that have perished along the road, gives "reliability" a whole new meaning when trusting a motorcycle to get me to my next destination.
This is my adventure.  Some of us may enjoy the excitement of Disneyland, or a trip to the lake fishing, but for me it's adventure of overland travel on a motorcycle.
Now after almost two years in Africa I find myself completely within my comfort zone. Negotiating with street traders for the best currency rates of the day, setting GPS coordinates for pyramids, or understanding security considerations of an area, is all part of everyday travel. The warm welcome I received from so many children in Sudan made it difficult to see the last bits of Africa fade into the horizon.

 YES:  Africa is SAFE ... My own lack of knowledge usually had me on guard for the first day or two in any given country, but I constantly learned for myself, not from the 6:00pm news, that there is nothing to fear. The best example of safety was Egypt. If you look at the numbers of murders the: US state department should have{ travel warnings} to many of our own states and not Egypt .

 In total the trip was about 30,000 miles? Lots of new Chinese parts on the BMW and tires. A counter clockwise trip of well as several countries.. The motorcycle accidents I could always walk away from, and items lost or stolen I could easily replace !
Arrived in Turkey last week ... Garth

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Monday, 8 July 2013

Egypt : tensions soar at Port Said

A recent headline in American news was : Egypt Descends into Chaos . I am stuck here for the time being,  but I would not say the country has descended into chaos . most of the killings have been very isolated to specific areas and limited to supporters of former President Morsi. The millions of protesters who came out against him far out numbered those who came out to support him. there were almost no killings until the few armed \Morsi supporters came into the streets.
 It will take some time to bring order again, but I am sure it will come and Egypt can try to find a leader who doesn't consider himself Egypt's next pharaoh , trying to give himself unlimited powers, and ignore the supreme court as Morsi did.

Fifteen days ago I arrived at the Suez Canal ( Port Said ) to board the ship Aqua Hercules to Turkey . After long waits and unlimited amounts of bureaucracy no one would ever believe,  the ship finally arrived from Turkey with 108 transport trucks and drivers on board. Only after boarding the ship did I realise it was basically being held  captive at the port by the union truck drivers. The drivers  refused to listen to there employers and leave the ship, feeling Egypt was no longer safe for them they demanded the ship take them back to Turkey. Out side the port 116 trucks and drivers wait to board the ship and leave Egypt. ! Five others and myself have been caught in the middle, and the port has been our home ever since. Expired visas , and officially stamped out of Egypt we are forced to wait in no mans land for the issue to be resolved and the ship leave. Soldiers , police, trucking company owners, union leaders ,  immigration, the shipping company, media and many government officials have all been involved in the stand off.
Although most do not understand English , I did hit the end of my rope today during one of the many screaming secessions calling them all pirates for ceasing the ship, and babies afraid to travel Egypt. I travelled Egypt solo on a motorcycle the past 30 days saw the many sites, and got to know many wonderful people, but unfortunately these union drivers have probably not made a real decision for themselves in years.
The past several days on the ship the drivers have all been very united, but slowly they have been fighting more and more. I knew it would only be time before solid lines of division were drawn and those fear full of loosing a good union job would get in their trucks and leave. Its Monday night and the first trucks have started to leave the ship !! I feel it will not be long before they are all gone. If the army needs to force the remaining few off the ship, I think they will and Turkey should be my next port of call by the end of the week !
Love Garth Anton

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Egypt Coup of 2013

 The photo is my armed escort and myself in Ethiopia ... This is not something you would see in Egypt. Throughout Egypt the millions of protesters that took to the streets to voice there demands for President Morsi to step down were loud like a world cup celebration . Yesterday the army staged a coup, but did not take control of Egypt , it gave the supreme court the power of the president until elections can take place. The coup was celebrated late into the night with army helicopters flying low over the cities dragging flags of support for Egyptians. Millions of people dancing in the streets, fireworks, painted faces, horns honking, A party like nothing I can ever imagine. Egyptians vow to continue protests demanding change as long as they need to, if corruption in government continues.  
Its the noise that keeps the Peace ! it may be a man loudly shaming another man by screaming at him over an unpaid loan. Or a woman loudly screaming from her roof top how her husband cheated on her. These loud public displays of anger are often resolved without violence. Egypt has a very low crime rate as a result of there public system of justice. 260 people were killed in the city Chicago from January to  June of last year.  Compare  this to the 32 Million protesters making noise demanding Egypt's removal of its president and resulting  in  only 15 deaths. If you consider the numbers and forget about what the news is saying about Egypt you should see how and why I have always been  VERY SAFE in Egypt . The experience has been incredible in so many ways, but  I know if your relying on the news for your reporting of what its like in Egypt you probably think otherwise.. hmmmm
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