Tomorrow we should leave Egypt to sail to Turkey. Our fixer was not present; but he sent us 2 sub-fixers, Ahmed and Ibrahim.
Optimistic as we were, we had our Egyptian number plates and the all-important but not understandable documents in Arabic given back to the police. Then we entered our car into the port, customs prepared its export. All business as usual as we had our 2 subbies Ahmed and Ibrahim by our side. They collected all kind of papers and stamps of outstanding importance to export the car: confirmation of the fire brigade that the confirmation of the fire brigade in Aswan still is valid, that we do not carry any explosives, confirmation of the chassis number examinator, that our chassis number still is the same, confirmation of the engine number examinator, that our engine number still is the same, confirmation of customs that we still have 2 bags and 5 plastic bags with all kind of stuff and 26 empty plastic bag and the confirmation of the mechanic that our tyre pressure is correct – you name it, somebody will confirm it. Some time later everything was confirmed and we went back to the local agent to get a stamp on the single piece of paper not yet stamped. There we learned that the ferry would be a little late. Somebody told us that towards 1am we may come back. So back to the hotel and sitting around in the nice chairs in the lobby; by 12 pm 1 of our subbies picked us up.
At the office we learned that the delay would be more important, we may stay there – outside the office of course, as business time was over – or go back to the hotel. We preferred the hotel alternative with a nice bed and the possibility of a hot shower. Next day one of the subbies picked us up again. We learned that the vessel has safely arrived; we were waiting until afternoon. Then the all-important news: there was a slight problem between the Turkish ship owner and his Egyptian agent. As there was a discussion of a negligible amount of 850 000 US$ the Egyptians seized the boat together with the whole crew. The Egyptians seemed to consider the 200 passengers as a kind of positive force to solve their problems. Again, we went back to the hotel, spent another night and expected another few days in awesome Damietta.
Next morning, what surprise, we were asked to go immediately to the port, to drive our car to the ferry, which seemed to be ready for boarding. Of course, we did as asked. Just behind the open gate of the vessel we parked our car and observed a group of policemen busy by not allowing anybody to enter or to leave the boat. So we waited another day. By evening it became clear that we would not leave in the immediate future. We drove to a nearby parking within the port as we were no longer allowed to leave the area. No problem, we installed the tent, opened our last cans of beer and enjoyed our last cans of food. Later on, Monika realized that there’s no toilet in the whole harbour except the traditional one. We spent a wonderful night on this parking, listening to the trucks crossing our tent the whole night and discovering in the middle of the night that our ferry suddenly was no longer at dock.
Next day; same game, we were waiting, drinking a lot of tea and coffee with the Turkish truck drivers, exchanging ideas about rumours and chasing the millions of flies around us. By the evening a guy flown in from Istanbul promised us that all problems are solved and that he paid all outstanding money – nevertheless there were rumours that he just arrived with 2 700 US$ – quite a difference to the requested 850 000 US$. So same story: Another night on the truck’s runway.
Another morning. We learned that we could board now – not cars, but passengers. We went to the ferry, even got a breakfast. Later on we moved there and even got a huge cabin free of cost; probably to compensate the small delay.
Day 6: We had to get the car immediately onto the ferry, which was to leave in a short time. We still had to stamp our passports and the Carnet. No problem, the 1st was the job of the local agent, the 2nd the one of our subbies. Finally a few hours later the ferry left. Our passports were stamped, not so our Carnet, our subbies were just too lazy to get anything done. No problem, we will just have to get a confirmation of one of these charming Swiss custom officers once they have seen our car really parking at the Swiss border post.