Palpable relief at being able to move on finally. I’ve been in Egypt over 2 months. I’m desperately hoping for no more delays.
I have 12 hours to waste until my coach from Cairo to Marsa Matrouh at 1.15am. Marsa Matrouh is a fitting planned last stop in Egypt, marking the western extreme of Pharonic Egypt. It was also used by Rommel as a headquarters during the North Africa campaign. He now has a beach and a museum in the town named after him. There can’t be much in the world still dedicated to leaders of the Nazi high command.
The taxi driver to Matrouh’s bus station, for onward transport towards Libya, wishes me “Au revoir. Thank you for visiting Egypt”. Sallum lies about 200 km west along a well maintained quiet road. I change transport again in Sallum town, from minibus to shared taxi. I’m placed in the passenger seat next to the largest man in Egypt and the driver, who is the only vehicle owner in the whole of the country who sees the need to change gear. The hearstick is jabbed further and further into my thigh. The queue of vehicles transporting goods into Libya starts a few miles from the steep incline that leads to a rocky plateau and the border post.
There I am told the Libyan authorities are not allowing foreigners across. There really not much more I can do then curse, and try and find transport back to Sallum and further east. Its a quiet contemplative journey. The first 8 months of this trip were fantastic. Something happened in crossing the Tanzanian border into Kenya. Since then its been nothing but delay and difficulty. Back in Matrouh I catch a minibus to Alexandria. Its another 280 km, making my day’s total somewhere 750 km, two-thirds the length of Libya.