Day 8, Stage 7 – 116km
Start – Luxor – Rezeiky Camp and Hotel
Finish – Idfu, camp in football stadium
Today we basically followed the Nile-side canal south from Luxor to Idfu. I cycled with the fast girls. I guess that doesn’t sound quite right. I cycled with some of the women cyclists who are leading the race – Bridget, Nathalie and Tessa. We went quickly and changed the lead, or pace position, every two km. It worked very well. I can’t keep up with the men racers but if I work hard I can cycle with the women. They are all very strong and racing to win, so with 20km to go I told them to go for it and dropped off a bit. They came 1st, 2nd and 3rd on the day.
After setting up my tent under some trees in one corner of the football stadium I wandered with half a dozen others into Idfu town. Except for along the Nile, where the cruise ships dock, this is not a tourist town, which is nice. After stopping at a bakery for some treats we wandered into the fruit and vegetable market. It had almost a medieval air about it, narrow streets, fresh produce in piles and sacks on either side, cloth suspended over the street about fifteen feet up to provide shade. But it wasn’t really medieval. Motorcycles, two and three wheeled, and cars and trucks of all sizes competed for the little space available. The average speed was far less than walking. The trucks would stop in the middle of the road for as long as they wanted when they had to pick something up or drop something off. We found a café in the middle of this street theatre and asked for some fresh orange juice. Cafes don’t really do juice but they said no problem. They went off and found a machine and oranges to make the juice with and set to work. About twenty minutes later we all had fantastic fresh juice. We made the mistake of not asking the price first so ended paying probably twice the going rate. But that’s ok. The street life was worth it.
Just in front of our café a large truck was parked on the side of the road, leaving just enough room for another vehicle to pass by cutting into the space of the shop opposite. The truck was piled high with 100lb sacks of potatoes. Three wheeled farm vehicles backed up to it, one after another, and half a dozen or ten bags were offloaded from the big truck onto the smaller vehicle. Potatoes were falling out of every bag and littered the street, like ball bearings in a Charlie Chaplin film. A two-year old boy was picking up the loose potatoes and trying to throw them back up onto the big truck. Great joy when one finally made it. We all clapped.
Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.