We have finally landed in Africa, after a 24 hour ferry from Turkey to Egypt. We now face a barrage of administration to get the car through customs, after what was a surprising ferry trip....
If we had done this trip 2 years ago, we would have driven on from here, through Syria, and into Jordan before meeting Africa in Egypt: instead we have had to catch the ferry and sail south passing this, and other, trouble by. If we needed a reminder of the fact it came in the form of the score of Syrian families who met us at the port. This livened up the ferry trip as we had to be on the alert to stop toddlers from hurling themselves off the dock or under HGVs, but it also gave us a chance to talk to those who had some English (our Arabic being currently limited to hello, thank you and let’s go!)
They are travelling to Egypt to look for work, perhaps with the help of family already there, or some just on the off chance. They say that everyone is catching up with people they know, exchanging stories of where the fighting is worst, and crossing off names of those who have died. We’ve seen a lot of sign language of planes dropping bombs and houses collapsing.
Amer, a multi-lingual HR director for a large supermarket chain before the trouble has told me how all business has dissolved now. There are no safe parts of the country, the only goods available are imports, and inflation is rife. Worse, banks won’t allow anyone access to their money.
Still, these families have hope. They have enough cash to make this expensive trip, and buy their way across the borders. The thought of the many left behind has made this an incredibly humbling bit of the journey, and made us all the more grateful for the excitement that now lies ahead.
We now sit in Port Damietta, at the gateway to our Africa trip proper. This is where the trip really begins...
The Beast waits for the ferry at Iskenderun