After our fabulous Nile river cruise we spent a day in Luxor at the same overlanders hotel that we had stopped by when we were driving through. They were excited to see us again, but a bit puzzled as to why we weren’t with our vehicles. As before, they cooked a lavish dinner for us, and we gorged ourselves to the point of food coma, after which we retired to our rooms to prepare for the next day’s train ride back to Aswan.
We had elected to grab second-class tickets back, which provided the four of us with a booth which we and our luggage just fit into. Of course, as is usual the train was overbooked, so we had people sitting on our armrests for the duration of the journey, and had other passengers constantly walking up and down the aisle, smacking their luggage into my head as I tried to get some shuteye during our eight hour journey.
Back in Aswan again after our brief sojourn, we resumed our normal routine of making phone calls, consulate visits, pizza eating, researching alternate plans, and felucca rides along the Nile. By this point we had been in Egypt for about three weeks, and had built a comfortable life amongst the inhabitants of the city. We had our favorite juice bars that we’d visit (love the fresh green grape juice), the shisha spots that we’d hit up after dinner, and an odd cast of people that we met with regularly on our quest to obtain the almighty Sudanese visas that we so desperately needed.
One of those characters was Timur. Timur was the guy who had met us on our first day in Aswan and taken us for our first round of rejections at the Sudanese consulate. We had developed a good relationship with him, and met on a frequent basis to chat visas or just grab some strawberry juice together. As an independent tour guide, Timur did a great job helping us arrange our day-to-day tasks around the city, book our Nile cruise, and setup our overnight felucca cruise that we had been wanting to book for a while, amongst other things. He served as a kind of middleman in many of the negotiations throughout our visa acquisition ordeal, and was an invaluable friend throughout our time in Aswan.
Another person that we had frequent contact with was Bashir, the Sudanese lawyer turned pizza maker. Originally a contact that Scott BKK had met on the street when foraging for his dinner, Bashir had been living in Aswan for a number of years and operated an Egyptian-style pizza cart with his brothers just outside of the souk. Trained in law in his homeland, he had left Sudan many years prior to explore better career opportunities, which ended with him working as a baker by day and a pizza cart operator by night. We were originally attracted to him not just by the deliciousness of his pizzas, but also by his affable nature, outgoing personality, and ability to speak English. It wasn’t until later that through him we’d meet some others that would be able to assist us in our quest to obtain the visas (more on that in an upcoming post). Bashir was another great friend, inviting us to his home for dinner to meet his family one night, and taking us out to a cousin’s wedding another night.
We would also have frequent contact with Gasser, whom we were renting our house from. Gasser lived with his very pregnant wife a five minute walk from where we were staying, and they would occasionally stop by and see how we were getting along (sometimes bearing gifts of cookies). One night they invited us to their home to have dinner, and we looked through their wedding album (not to mention watch an incredible video of the event). This was followed by an invitation to his cousin’s house at a later date, also for dinner. We sure weren’t minding all of the amazing dinners we were presented with, I can tell you that! Egyptian hospitality was definitely nothing short of impressive.
Sometime after our Nile cruise we received word from the 2 Do Africa crew (remember them?) that they would be rolling through Aswan in a few days, and we invited them to stay with us until they could find a spot of their own. Well, we enjoyed their company so much that we forgot to kick them out after that first night, and we ended up more or less becoming a group of seven for the duration of the rest of our time there.