Egypt – Alexandria – Night Riding

February 9, 2013 / Egypt / 0 Comments /

“What are you doing?!!”
“DONt Stop there… DON’T STOP THERE”
“But but I but I but OH SH*T”
“I CAaaaaaNT… Oh ****”

At this very point, Sam cuts out and I splurge a variety of colourful expletives.  Straining to see out of my desert filthy smeared goggles which cause the bustling city lights to dance and streak tauntingly in my vision, I watch helplessly as the big metal fume spewing coach obliviously pulls closer, now leaving merely inches available for me to escape from between him and the churning cement lorry to my other side.  My horn, pathetic, is lost amidst dozens of other hoots and honks, having no affect. Not even the roar of my baffle free exhaust helped. Like a dog with fleas, my left foot continued to frantically paddle the air, desperately trying to catch my clutch… But it just wasn’t there.


It caught. Dumping the clutch I rocketed forward, thudding hard over a boulder-deep pot hole and breaking through the gap now only a midgys nackers away from grinding me in to a messy kebab like pulp.  Chest pumping I gasp a relief and dive between a disco-disco crammed minibus and a pick up, Sam now in view and straining to look round to find me. He suddenly comes back on the headset:

“What The Hell Clare?!?!!”
“I couldn’t move, my clutch, something’s wrong its not ..oh **** change up you STUPID Lump of metal…”

Failing me again, I am caught in neutral and left a sitting duck amidst the frenzied Alexandria night traffic, the doomful coach revving impatiently on my heals.  I was tired… Exhausted in fact. The last day had emotionally wiped me having been threatened at gun point which, by only pure luck, i managed to get out of.  Worse still, it was due to be that time of month for me and much alike the mogwai gizmo I require regular feeding else a womanly wrath brews inside me… And I hadn’t been fed since noon the day prior. I was beginning to lose my sense of humour and turn a slightly incredible-hulk-green-colour.

“The clutch… It’s wrong, it’s broken, something’s not right I.cant.gET.IT.IN.TO.GEEAAARgh…”

Famous last words as I then lurched into first and proceed to all but pinball through the skittery traffic.  With no where to stop, we continue to pulsate our way through the metal mangles on wheels.  After beating off a few trucks, a moment of estrogen overload ensues and I well up.

“I can’t do this, I’m so tired Sam, I’m so tired”

Fortunately we manage to spot a break in the continuos concrete dividers and swoop into a car park of some refinery. Tugging off my helmet and taking a much needed breath in (albeit a smoke filled one from the puffing silhouetted factory) I struggle off the bike and fall to my knees to take a closer look at the clutch.  Flapping about, it was still intact but the spring load had snapped causing it to neatly tuck away under my chain. The little bugger. Nothing a bit of electric tape couldn’t fix for the moment though.  Whilst Sam foraged around in our luggage for our repair kit I take a moment and attempt to regather myself. Sam was also exhausted and much like me increasingly narky and desperate to stop. Our intentions had been to reach Alexandria in daylight but after a slightly delayed start (truck driver had a lie in after an horrific night at the border) and then the offloading of bikes and attempting to find a cash point to pay back some additional border fees to the driver… Night had caught up with us.

I had thought Sfax, Tunisia, had been insane riding but it just wasn’t a mark on Alexandria.  With careless, insanely daring and erratic driving it is just a hub of chaos. Combined with torrential potholes and lake like puddles, riding Alexandria at night is quite simply a death trap, particularly if you can’t get in gear!

Finished refitting the shifter, we stand up with a strain, only to be faced with a bear sized gnarling mastiff.  Without realising it we had been surrounded by the refinery security team and their pet pooch, didnt half give us a shock though especially after being chased by a pack of dogs in town earlier.  We enquired about some directions and kindly they indicated where to go and off we went again for our last leg of impending doom!

Other than a minor side swipe which caused me to shake my fist (truly British) and also riding around a lorry which was having its tyre changed in the middle of a dual carriageway by a randomly set up small business on the island we finally and thankfully arrived at our destination. Annoyingly we discover later this we had all but passed this road earlier! CURSE to road blocks, one way systems and GPS reroutes!

Having called a family friend Sam quickly purchases from a nearby vendor a kitkat chunky to alleviate my burbling womanly hunger-pang-wrath!  Both nomming away at our choccie bars we are relieved to see our friend pull up.  With big hugs, hunger reduced and smiles all round we both throw ourselves over our bikes for a short stint following Mahmoud round through some less manic back streets lined with beautiful iconic buildings.  Despite still being amidst mad traffic, there’s something quite profoundly different when you are riding following a street savvy driver with a definite idea of location and destination!  Within minutes,  we arrive at a garage and unload.  Only a couple of hundred yards later we are tumbling into a gorgeously quaint mechanical wooden lift which takes us up to Mahmoud’s old student apartment he is kindly letting us stay in for the duration of our time in Alex.  Inviting us in we both cannot believe our fortune.  Decadent and beautifully furnished it’s a million miles from our bombed out dusty hotel the nights previous!  Not only that but Mahmoud produces fresh oranges and tea… It’s like a little bit of heaven!  Seeing how utterly shattered and filthy we are Mahmoud leaves us to settle in, letting us know of a little cafe just down the road which we can pick up a meal at if we hurry.

We change into some standard clothes and limp our way out.  With our no sense of direction and our sleepiness we stroll straight past the cafe and find ourselves in the hub of a mobile phone market!  It’s insane and a little bit overwhelming for our lethargic aching and hungry selves!  Across the road we spot a pizza place… Definitely not something we would normally vouch for but knowing we could grab something and take it back to the flat and collapse… It was an opportunity we were not going to pass up!

A cheesy vegetarian pizza later, we both disintergrate in the shower to our formal non smelly blackened selves and then stumble clumsily into a clean sheeted bed.   Snuggling, we instantly are lulled into a deep and safe sleep and until gone 9am we are both out, with not even the morning prayers which echo out over the entire city at 5am awakening us.

It’s been a hard introduction to Egypt and indeed Alexandria!  Considering we have not managed to see a dicky bird of anything we cannot really comment on what it is like other than utterly 110% mental at night when riding and a not so pleasant border!  We are determined not to let these experiences tarnish our view of Egypt though and in the next few days we hope to get out and see the real Alexandria and have a proper report for you all that isn’t so horrifying!

We both cannot thank enough Mahmoud for his kindness and help, his generosity has just been overwhelming and we are so grateful!  The apartment is just amazing.  Hot, powerful shower… A kitchen… Internet (although intermittent so please hang in there with us and updates)… In the hub of Alexandria… With a garage… It’s just perfect! Big thank you Mahmoud, we cannot wait to spend a few days with you! :D

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