It is hard for me to believe but this is going to be the last blog post / update that we post whilst “on the road”. We will hopefully enter Israel in the next week (or two), entering a new
phase in the journey where our focus will be on filming the fictional component of the documentary as well as post production and other finishing touches. We are currently in Cairo, Egypt.
The last month has been insightful, fun, rough, up-and-down and everything inbetween. We met with our last contact until Israel in Ethiopia. We were put in contact with a missions
organisation in Addis Ababa by a mutual contact in Johannesburg. We were really encouraged to see the passion of the Ethiopians for reaching the lost in their country as well as to equip
and send out missionaries to neighbouring countries. We were also privileged to meet a South African couple based in Addis Ababa that are working amongst the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians.
It was a blessing sharing a meal with them and learning about their experiences and vision for the church in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Leaving Addis we took a spin through some of the Ethiopian highlands, where it was freezing cold on the bikes. We visited the famed churches of Lalibela. These structures were carved
directly into the rock in the 10th and 11th centuries as ordained by king Lalibela who was reigning over the ethiopian empire at the time. These churches are still operational today and
many local adherents to the orthodox faith make pilgrimage to the site. It was interesting to see priests wandering the streets in their garmets and to hear the bells and music calling
people to church. It is a very different experience to church in East London! Please pray for the Ethiopian Orthodox church that is will experience renewal by the Holy Spirit and that
believers will be raised up in this church that will challenge centuries old beliefs that are deviant from the bible. After our visit to Lalibela we decided to head to Gondar from where we
can cross the border to Sudan. Originally we had planned to visit Axum and the Simien Mountains as well, but with December approaching we were feeling the heat to reach Israel by
Gondar itself is an interesting old town which contains the remains of some castles dating from the 18th century. It is a little bit strange seeing castles in Africa. It felt rather
European, but it was very interesting nontheless. After visiting the sights we spend a morning going through our luggage and trying to identify anything that may be problematic if found in
our luggage by Sudanese, Egyptian or Israeli police. We identified a few DVD’s about Muslim evangelism and documents related to the film and placed them in a parcel that we sent to East
With our luggage sorted out we headed the next morning for the Sudanese border. As we were driving towards the border the landscape was falling away, we were going lower and lower and it
was getting hotter. We were starting to experience the famed heat of Sudan. Although not the fastest, the border crossing was relatively easy and we were free agents in Sudan by around
16:00. The pressure was on to drive the 150km to Qadarif, the nearest town to the border. After a pothole dodging slightly rough ride where Jeff’s top box decided to fall off whilst
cruising at 80km/h (luckily nothing was damaged!) we made it to Qadarif at about 19:00. The next challenge was finding a hotel in the dark in a Sudanese town where everything is written in
Arabic. We circled around until about 20:00 at which point I suggested to Jeff that we stop at an eatery and get some dinner and use that as an opportunity to possibly ask some locals. We
had hardly ordered some chicken, salad and bread when a local guy approached me wanting to know where we are from and whether he can buy dinner for us! We assured him that we had already ordered but asked if he knew a hotel, which he did. It was around the corner. He also said we should visit his store in the market the next morning for tea.
And such was our time in Sudan. We experienced some of the most friendly, helpful and hospitable people in this country. That first morning in Qadarif our friend from the previous evening,
Mohammed, had us for tea whilst another friend of his, Bashir, who bought us breakfast and coffee. It was great to experience exactly where and what the locals eat and to sit and chat,
although it was limited by our broken Arabic and our friend’s limited English. From Qadarif we headed to Madani and then on to Khartoum where we spent 3 nights. Khartoum is a big bustling
city. We enjoyed the local restaurants where you pick your meat from the butcher before it is prepared for you as well as the delicious smoothies. They went down really well in the heat.
Sudan appears to have quite conservative Islamic culture. Most men were dressed in traditional Jalaabiya (white man-dress) and women wore various forms of hijab or niqab. We camped for our
three nights in Khartoum. We had the “privilege” of being right next to a mosque, which woke us at 4:30 every morning with the call to prayer. Jeff was able to pick up some nice shots of
mosques and Muslim people that will be useful in the film.
From Khartoum we headed north to Shendi. We wanted to explore Sudan’s most famous tourist site, the pyramids of Meroe. These pyramids are similar, although smaller, to those found in
Egypt. It was an unique experience going there. There are roughly 20-30 pyramids at the site, which we had to ourselves as it is out in the dessert with not many people around. Sudan is
apparently full of pyramid sites and other archeological sites as Nubia has a history as long as that of Egypt and at one stage it was Nubia that ruled over all Egypt. There are also
various sites where one can see ancient Nubian churches dating from the 7th to 14th centuries when Nubia (Sudan) was a Christian kingdom. Eventually Sudan was invaded though by the Arabs
and Islam spread. From Shendi we headed to Atbara and on the Karima, where we saw more pyramids before spending a night wild camping in the dessert. What an experience. It was cold and
extremely windy, but fantastic.
We reached Wadi Halfa the next day where we spent the night preparing to cross the notorious border to Egypt. The Egyptian border crossing is known to be difficult, painfully slow and
expensive. It was slow and expensive, but we found it to be organised and professional. It did take the whole day though and after leaving we missed the last ferry across lake Nasser to
Abu Simbel and had to spent another night wildcamping in the dessert. This time it was luckily a little less windy. We were unprepared for this camping but luckily still had a bit of
spaghetti which we could cook and ate with pepper. The dinner of champions.
Abu Simbel was not our favourite experience in Egypt, it is an expensive little tourist / backwater town. But is was interesting to go and see the temple Ramses II built to himself. What
an ego trip. From Abu Simbel we headed to Aswan and then on to Luxor where we took a rest day. Egpyt has a complex grid of police blocks / checkpoints on the roads. We were stopped at some
of these points just to check our passports but at others we were ordered to wait for a police vehicle that would escort us into town or part of our way. The police we always really
friendly though and gave us tea and water to drink. On our way to Luxor we were stopped and had to wait 1.5 hours for a car that never showed up but the police officer in charge gave us
tea and lunch which was a nice treat.
From Luxor we had two hard days riding to Asyut and on to Cairo. The ride from Asyut to Cairo was particularly cold and it started raining some of the way. By the time we arrived in Cairo
we were exhausted and sore from sitting and shiverring on the bikes all day. We have spent the last 3 days in Cairo trying to get permission to cross the Sinai peninsula to Israel on our
bikes. Unfortunately we were denied permission so we are now looking at options to ship our bikes to Israel. The most promising option is overland shipping on the back of a truck. Please
pray together with us that we will have wisdom to choose the right option and that we will be able to make it to Israel without incident. Also please keep us in your prayers as we are
start our time in Israel that we will be able to connect with the right people, that we will find suitable accommodation and that we will be able to successfully source actors, equipment
and locations in order to film our narrative piece. There are also still some key interviews that we would like to get with some key people whilst in Israel. Please pray that we will be
able to set up and co-ordinate these interviews.
Thank you to everyone that has been supporting us, encouraging us and following our journey as we have been filming and collecting material for “A Narrow Path”. We hope that you will
continue to follow our progress as we progress into the next phase of our journey.