When we left home 10 months ago, Plan A was to travel up North Africa, cross from Egypt to Libya, then on to Tunisia and take a ferry across to Europe. Well that plan went south when Gaddafi decided to go into hiding and resist western forces. Plan B went into action and we luckily had our Carnet’s amended before leaving Canada to include Syria. Our intention was to take a ferry from Egypt to Jordan, then on to Syria, Turkey and into Europe. That proposed route plan didn’t last long before Syria erupted with civil protests and riots and now full scale unrest and all foreign vehicles weren’t being let into the country. Luckily, we had already thought of Plan C, which was to take a ferry from Alexandria, Egypt to Venice, Italy. Seemed easy enough till mid May when the ferry company that runs this ferry decided to cancel this sailing as it apparently did a loop via Syria and considered it unsafe to sail. There was a Plan D which most of the overlanders that we had met were taking - a ferry from Egypt to Jordan, then on to Israel and another ferry to Greece. This was now the only way out without having to fly both the bikes and ourselves out of Egypt.
While waiting in Uganda to get our gorilla permits, we did some soul searching and decided that we needed a break or needed a holiday from the holiday. It is pointless continuing when you are doing it for the sake of it and not enjoying every minute of the day. A change is needed. This is a common phenomena and most travelers go home for a few months before returning and continuing their trip. However most overland travelers that we have met so far are of the retired kind and have that flexibility with their time. We still need to think about our careers and settling down again. So instead of leaving our bikes here for a while till we take a break, we have decided to end our motorcycle trip here, 10 months after we left Vancouver and 44,473 km later and ship our bikes from Nairobi, Kenya back to Canada, Ontario to be specific. Yup, that is another entirely different blog post. Though our bikes are going back to Canada, we haven’t finished off our travel plans. We have booked our flights to Paris on Tues. June 29th before meeting friends in Germany, visiting Angela’s family in the Netherlands and making our way to the UK.
In speaking with a few of the travelers here at Jungle Junction, the place we are staying at in Nairobi, they had asked if it was a tough decision to make and to the contrary, we both were on the same page and are super excited to be off the bikes for a while. I’m sure that once we are in Europe, we would long to be riding our bikes again, but for now, it feels good to be starting a whole new adventure sans bikes and being able to backpack for a few months. We have enjoyed every minute of every day so far and don’t want to taint the rest of that motorcycle trip by being unhappy and forcing ourselves to continue. We will still continue to blog about our travels, so hope you will still follow along.
Along with the issue of “How do we cross into Europe?” I’d like to note some of the other challenges that riding from Nairobi, Kenya to Egypt presents. To start with travelling through Northern Kenya leaves one to the mercy of armed bandits. Three weeks ago we learned about a couple that was travelling in their Landrover towards Ethiopia where an attempted robbery ended up with the guy being shot in the jaw. Their vehicle is currently sitting here at our Jungle Junction Hostel/Campground. I’m not saying that this would necessary happen to us but the stress of this possibility would weigh heavy on us as we struggled to eat up the kilometers on our motorcycles. Especially while we would be attempting to cross the Dida Galgalu Desert where the road is apparently an endless washboard of dirt and lava fields that shatters your body and vehicle for hour upon scorching hour. Not somewhere that I would want to outwit or outrun poverty stricken, armed and frustrated people. Secondly, travelling north would have had us crossing the country of Sudan which on July 9, 2011 is scheduled to break into two countries – South Sudan and the Sudan – due to a referendum. Although newspapers report that the split is meant to be a “peaceful” event we would have found ourselves right in the middle of the country on split day. I hope this division does go as peacefully as planned as the people in the Sudan are supposed to be absolutely lovely. The third challenge that personally made me ill was the fact that we would be crossing the Sudan and Egypt in the middle of summer, July/August where the temperatures are generally 50 degrees Celsius. As we discovered while riding though Baja, Mexico I do not do well in this kind of heat as my body and brain completely shuts down. This journey for me, at this time of year, would not be enjoyable in the slightest. Along with the other challenges of travelling in Muslim countries during Ramadan (starting Aug 1 this year), dealing with rock throwing children in Ethiopia, and organizing ferries that only sail weekly in the Sudan and Egypt there just didn’t seem much time for the wonderful part of our adventure – safely riding our motorcycles across the world.
I am painfully going to miss hoping up on my bike every morning, in the comfort of my familiar riding gear and having the freedom to ride down any continuous road of our choosing. I am however looking very much forward to seeing family and friends in Europe and getting to explore a whole new area of the world – in a whole new way!