Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Local (TDA) Culture

One of the reasons I decided to bike across Africa was because I felt that biking offered the right speed to encounter and access local cultures and people in a unique way. Running would be too slow and a car would be too fast, but biking is just right. I have been in Egypt for a week, and feel intimately familiar with its arid stretches of desert, children shouting along the Nile, the salty crunch of a falafel pita, awe-inspiring ancient pyramids and the less inspiring hagglers offering coke or candy for a triple mark-up.

What I didn’t anticipate, was how much I would enjoy the internal culture driven by the 60 people riding on the Tour d’Afrique. We are pedaling thousands of kilometers together on bikes, eat the same three meals together and set up our tents side by side every night. But apart from this incredible journey we are sharing, we couldn’t be more different.

One excellent example is my friend Dave. Dave and I met in New York before the trip started, but I’m not sure our paths would have crossed otherwise. To put it mildly, he’s punk and I’m prep. He entertains the locals here with his blonde spiked hair, tattoos and cigarettes, while I’m usually the one organizing my gear and passing around the hand sanitizer. Today when I arrived at our lunch stop I looked up, and saw Dave waist-deep in his bike clothes in the Nile River. Apparently he had accidentally thrown his keys in the river while skipping a stone. Its generally advisable NOT to swim in parasite-ridden bodies of freshwater in Africa, but hey, the man lost his keys and we go days without showers on this tour! I hope dave doesn’t get guinea worm, but we were all grateful for something to laugh about for the next few kilometers.

Later on, we were finishing today’s ride and took a wrong turn entering the town of Idfu. It is terrible to take a wrong turn on this tour because 1. You are then lost on a bike in Africa and 2. It adds on additional kilometers and time to an already long day. We ended up dodging donkeys and biking through a congested street, ending up at the ruins of a famous Egyptian temple. I said rather impatiently, “This is definitely wrong. There is nothing on the map about biking around Egyptian ruins.” Dave responded, “Cool we’re biking around Egyptian ruins!”. I was humbled by the reminder to appreciate my awesome surroundings, and go with the flow as much as I go with what’s on the map.

Tomorrow we bike to our final stop in Egypt, the city of Aswan, but most of us are already thinking ahead to Sudan.

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2 Responses to “Local (TDA) Culture”

  1. Dave’s Mom here. I am TOTALLY enjoying reading your blog (and Cat’s and Dave’s) Between the three blogs, I really get a view of what is going on. Dave & I took a trip to Australia & New Zealand a few years ago – and people on that trip had the same reaction as your group. It was a pleasure for me to see that spikey haired, tattooed son of mine voluntarily carry an older woman’s suitcase or help a widow learn to snorkle, etc. ~~ I’m so proud of all of you for undertaking this journey! Keep up the good work & the interesting blogs!

  2. Erin,
    I am really enjoying reading about your adventures. What an awesome experience. Have fun, be careful and enjoy!!! Love you
    Aunt Mary Ann


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