I leave Sebastian after the most restful eleven days so far on this journey. The road south leaves urban Cairo behind surprisingly quickly, and it is a relief to me that I do not have to spend a whole day pedalling through traffic jams and exhaust fumes. The road follows the Nile River — a massive body of water that begets a green, living vein in an else dead desert. The climate is surprisingly cold, but I guess the winter season brings down temperatures a bit. I do not sweat much during the days, and the nights are pleasantly chilly.

I spend the first two nights at Coptic churches along the road. At the second one, St Paul’s Monastery, I am invited for wonderful food: local bean stew ‘ful’ and other vegetable dishes. I spend the evening talking with a few younger members of the community, before I am given a comfy bed to sleep in. I tried to offer a small donation the following morning, as thanks for their hospitality, but they did not accept.

Thank you to father Bshoy, father Istafanous and bishop Gawargiuos.