OUT OF AFRICA
At the Eygptian border,the car was given a thorough going over. We had to take everything out for searching and several keen customs officers had a good old poke around, not too sure why or what they were looking for as we were exiting their country, but thankfully it was all over in a couple of hours, so with passport and carnet stamped, we were out of Africa.
Relieved to be out of Eygpt,we drove a few metres across the border into Israel and repeated the performance all over again, this was a very rigorous search, but at least well organised compared with most African border crossings. After a barrage of security questions,every single item had to go through a scanner, including us and then the whole car when empty, luckily most of our stuff is in plastic boxes and any loose bits and pieces, were put into plastic bags. Weapons, which in our case included Michael’s Massai spear (what a surprise) and an ancient bow and arrow, along with the infamous axe, were promptly taken away as was the gas stove, which they took for chemical analysing.
It made a change to see things being handled professionally and all the customs staff were friendly, helping us to load our kit into trolleys and putting it through the scanning machine. A couple of tour groups were not so happy though, as they had a lengthy wait for us. Finally, they drove the empty vehicle through another scanner. It took several hours before we were free to go, but wasn’t the horrendous experience we’d been led to believe.
In Israel and fairly exhausted after the day’s events, we only drove a short distance and camped on the beach, with good views to Eilat, Jordan and Saudi.
We soon discovered Israel is outrageously expensive and suddenly prices went from 40p a beer to £4.00 sad times!
The following morning,we headed for a garage in Eilat, this had been recommended to us, by Alex, a Landy-lover. The guys here were great and quickly fixed a few minor problems. They can easily obtain parts, so very useful if anyone is ever stuck on this route…………………………..
One of the mechanics asked if we fancied flying home as he wanted to buy the Landy,we declined for sentimental reasons(it would be nice to get the beast home) but I can’t say it wasn’t just a little bit tempting!!
Apparently, Landrovers are very hard to get in Israel and it’s only possible to buy ex-army or very old ones. Never has the beast had so many compliments and photo’s taken despite it’s battered appearance!
Alex and his wife kindly took us to their apartment,they must have thought we looked pretty filthy, as they insisted we have a shower, which was gratefully recieved. After some lunch and chatting with them for a while, we drove out into The Negev Desert, remarkable landscapes, but the higher we got and as darkness fell, the colder it became.
Not for the first time, we found ourselves in a military camp………this is not a good idea and we left pretty swiftly,after being shown the way by the (luckily) friendly guy on the gate. Without any maps or guide books we weren’t too sure of any places to camp especially as the many signs along the roadside indicated Live firing ranges everywhere.
Eventually we saw some cars with mountain bikes on top, turning off-road, so we joined the back of their convoy and a few kms further on, we found a camping spot for the night.
We learnt there had been a rocket attack on Eilat from Sinai the previous day, but we were totally oblivious to this……..what is it they say, ignorance is bliss! Certainly you are aware of the jet-fighters in the skies and young, heavily armed soldiers. We even had a pretty girl in front of us at the ATM, with a grenade launcher slung over her shoulder, at least we didn’t have to worry about getting mugged that day!
Awoke early next morning and left for Ashdod. After a couple of nights camping on Banana beach (not as exotic as it sounds) a few km south of Ashdod, it was a good place to while away the time before heading to the port to catch the ship to Italy.
At the port we found the – Allalouf office (Grimaldi freighters) and after a morning of paperwork, customs and more questions,we were able to board the ship at 7:00 that evening, but wouldn’t actually be sailing until the following afternoon. This in fact turned out to be 10:30pm but we were asleep when it left the port.
A huge car-carrying, cargo ship, with eleven decks, twenty-six Italian crew and a comfy cabin, this was to be our home for the next few days, until we reached Salerno in Italy.
We took part in the fire drill with crew, donning life-jackets, dry suits and safety helmets!
An officer gave us a guided tour of the engine room. I felt a bit like I was on “Blue Peter” but it was very interesting (for the boys at least!) Luckily the sea was not too rough,so we were able to stomach the Italian meals which we ate in the officers mess.
Passed Crete on the way, the mountains in the distance were covered in snow. A taste of things to come perhaps.
After 5 days on board we arrive at Salerno. From here we will travel back through Italy and France, catching one last ferry to the UK
We are all blogged out now, so to round up (before you fall asleep, if not already)
31 African countries
699 days travelled
Over 16,000 photo’s
WHAT WE WILL MISS MOST
The wonderful people
Animals and wildlife
Stunning and varied landscapes
…….AND WHAT WE WON’T
Visa’s,border crossings & beaurocracy
The road to Nyika
Writing the blog !
It’s hard to believe we are almost at the end of the road and would like to say thanks to all those wonderful people, both local’s and travellers alike,who have helped, advised,fed and watered us throughout our travels. Last words have to go to the mechanic’s (some more than other’s) bush and otherwise, who have kept us on the road ………………………remember, a Landrover is ALWAYS sick…….but never dies!!