Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ismailia

Ismailia has been a fantastically relaxing stop. The town itself seems a lot more peaceful than Suez and is well stocked with all the essentials - a decent supermarket (though still no bacon), a wonderful fruit/veg/meat market with mounds of strawberries, numerous Internet caf├ęs, good cheap restaurants, stunning patissaries and the invaluable wide range of wedding dress shops. I spent my time repairing and cleaning Kika, including a couple of trips up the mast with the hose to clean off the Red Sea sand and salt. The lines are pliable once again and the boat well-stocked, including my first strawberries since New Zealand. As well as enjoying my time with Lasse, the the marina slowly filled up with other boats I've met up the Red Sea, including Rino, Vagabond Virgin and Kristiane as well as a couple of boats from the French fleet.
I'd planned to visit Cairo and the pyramids and my luck was in as I met a fantastically helpful, friendly taxi driver, Mohamed (0121538185) who took me on a whirlwind day-trip to the pyramids, around Cairo, and the incredible Cairo museum for a very fair price, and only spent 10 minutes trying to convert me to his religion - apparently converting a infidel is better than gaining one thousand red camels - the best camels.This gave me an excuse not to partake in the camel rides around the pyramids - why ride on a camel which isn't red, when you know it's not the best?

One of the oddities of Ismailia is the need to show your passport with Egyptian visa to the guards on the gate every time you venture into town. The guards also act to stop subsidised Egyptian filling-station diesel being brought back into the marina. However with no diesel available within the compound, I'm not sure if there is a legal way of obtaining fuel. One boat managed to bribe the guards and use a taxi to bring diesel from the filling station. However the guards caught another boat sneaking diesel in through the gate resulting in a substantial fine. We by-passed security and took a couple of dinghies across the bay, under a bridge and tied up by some party boats. The party boat hosts organised a tuk-tuk and we loaded our 18 diesel cans into the trailer and set off for the filling-station. The plan worked and undercover of dark we smuggled the diesel back onboard. Now if only we'd filmed our illicit trip, the resulting movie of our subdiffuse might have challenged "The Great Escape" for the slot of Christmas afternoon escape film.I'm writing this waiting for my pilot to arrive for the second half of the trip through the Suez Canal. Once I'm through I'm setting sail directly for Kyrenia - Northern Cyprus. The wind looks favourable so I'm keen to head-off ... where is a pilot when you need one ... ?

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