The port at Aswan is hot, chaotic, busy, with boxes and luggage everywhere.
We had an agent called, a lovely man who has sorted out our passage with ease so we can get to Sudan. He cost a bit but it has been worth it – 150USD for the loading of the two cars, carnets, registration documents, 5 tickets, getting us a first class cabin and getting us literally on the boat to meet the captain.
We were pretty hot and bothered by the time we walked to the boat which looks battered and very small for holding 400 people with millions of belongings including kitchen appliances and sofas! The Captain however seemed happy as he smiled at us with a mouth full of silver teeth and for a bit of bashish (EP60) Sib and Pris could sleep on the captain’s deck and watch the night sky.
The boat leaves Aswan around 3pm and was a real experience as there is absolutely no room to move as people have grabbed every piece of space to sleep for the night in the boat and on deck. The first class cabin was small and pretty filthy but it is a place to get away from the mayhem. It does have air conditioning which I have to say at 40 degrees + census outside is a real blessing! Sib and Nic cannot remember having air con 5 years ago when they made the same trip but in the other direction.
I’m glad we all have a cabin. We are out of the way of the 400 other passengers and at least Nic and I can contain Lily in a cool environment. She continues to take her shoes off in the most filthiest of places and I am constantly battling with her to put them back on! I do give in and I did in the cabin. I wouldn’t mind otherwise but this boat is filthy and people spit on the floor inside the boat and the toilet is overflowing into the corridor. One dirty chap spat and just missed my foot!
We saved some food from our hotel breakfast (boiled egg, bread and jam) plus we get one complementary meal on the boat so we all had some tasty grilled chicken, rice, tomato sauce and plenty of Egyptian bread and Lily happily tucked into the rice, sauce and chicken and has a yoghurt and sponge cake for pudding. She obviously takes after her Uncle Robin who can devour most foods!!
By the time Lily got to bed, she was dirty and I attempted to clean her faces, hands legs and feet with two wet baby wipes, put on her nightie and put her in the bottom bunk with me. Nic will sleep on the top bunk whilst Sib and Pris sleep on deck. The prospect of four adults and one child in a small cabin wasn’t appealing even if it was cooler. Sleeping under the stars though would have been quite special and Nic and I would have done this but thought it was safer to have Lily inside. I did take a rope to tie to Lily’s leg to my wrist if we didn’t get a cabin and had to sleep with the other passengers.
We arrived in Wadi Halfa the next day at 12.30pm and there was no port in sight. Apparently the water was so low in the Sudan part of the dam that the passenger boat could only dock about 1-2km from the port. We met Magdi a friend of Mohammed and he greets us on the boat and starts the process of helping us off and doing the necessary paper work to get the cars off also.
Wadi Halfa is a very small town and very hot with temperatures of around 45 census. We got off the boat with our luggage and a tired two year old and Magdi speedily got us through passport control by jumping queues of people in the boiling heat. We get into a battered old taxi and head for the Cougan hotel.