Despite celebrating David’s arrival a few hours befoire – the team members were able to meet up with Ahmed at 8am in order for the final onslaught – getting the cars through final police and customs and parking them next to the pier.
Only the drivers and the 3 cars were allowed through the boom separating the harbour from the rest of Alexandria. Similar to crossing the iron curtain in times gone by -strict passport control and with the previously organised and triple stamped “permission to enter” Lipstick, Bulldog and Icevan made it to the final police clearance.
Out came a herd of uniformed and undercover police specialised to make sure that all chassis numbers, engine numbers, drivers licences , visas , carnets de passage and passport details would match the information on the pre clearance certificates received 2 days earlier. All officials refrained from showing any haste in order to be as efficient as possible and if someone would have filmed them in slow motion the outcome would have been a series of standstill pictures……
Again the team members were able to receive an ink copy of all stamps available by the various officers on forms written in Arabic hieroglyphs and one can only hope that any information written down on these forms might one day become useful to some human being out there…..
EVENTUALLY…. the harbours top cop confirmed all to be fine – obviously Ahmed reminded him that month end indeed does not have to be stressful – and shook Willy’s hand wishing him well for the forthcoming custom examinations…
Off to the customs office- within the harbours compound – where some 5o officials were hoping that nobody would interrupt their cross word puzzles or private telephone conversations today. The next 3 hours are amazing, one form after the other was added to the individual cars folder with Ahmed going from one official to the other wishing all of them a happy month end.
An inspection of the contents of all cars – for customs purpose – was cut short when Ahmed convinced the official that even the following months -month end -would bring happy memories…
After exactly 3 hours and 21 minutes and with Ahmed throwing the victory sign towards Mohammed’s paradise in the sky team Elao had it all. A quick count confirmed that each car had exactly 31 forms or documents with many more stamps and signatures allowing them to be parked next to a pier awaiting Grimaldi’s finest ship to board the following day.
The keys were handed over to a friendly harbour supervisor after he was sworn in to treat Elao’s vehicles with the greatest of respects when driving them onto Grimaldi’s RO-RO vessel…. Happy month end to him toooo….
Car less Paul Willy and Mark had to board a harbour taxi to be driven to the gates and being reunited with the rest of the team.
From their off to Cairo ….with David as the driver in the wonderful 7 seater which he organised and into the hotel and a big plunge into the pool.
Sadly without cars but extremely happy knowing that operation “Ship the cars” is over all members went to a floating restaurant on River Nile to celebrate their last km on the continent of Africa……..