Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel: Hot, Skip, and Jump Away

Saturday felt like it never ended. I hadn't really slept since Friday morning (See Climbing a Mountain in the Dark) and was trying to stay up til nighttime so I could get back into a regular sleep schedule. However, lying in the sun, swimming, and reading is not conducive to not sleeping. In the end, I made it but, boy, what a rough time I had relaxing.

Up and down the East (and probably West) coast of Sinai are camps and small hotels on the beach. Many are very laid-back and relatively inexpensive. All six of us made it to Moonlight Camp which is about 15 km north of Nuweiba. It's run by a Bedouin named Haney and a few other really nice people who cook food and help out.

At Moonlight, there are a bunch of straw huts right on the beach with a mat and a blanket (if you ask for it). That's it. 50 LE a night and it fits two people. So in dollars, that's about 5 dollars per person per night. The bathrooms are communal and a little further away from the beach. Depending on the time of day and your luck, there may or may not be hot water in the shower. The only place that has electricity is the food area and the outside of the bathroom which made it very difficult to use the bathroom at night. Also hard to find my pajamas in my hut. I've never been camping before so this is the closest I've been to roughing it. And I was roughing.

Brendan and I shared this hut.

The inside.

The view from the hut. If the tide was any higher...

Common space for eating/relaxing.

Since we're on the east coast of Sinai, the water we were swimming in was the Gulf of Aqaba. Right across the gulf, you can see the mountains of Saudi Arabia and Jordan. At night, you can see the lights of the coastal cities.

Oh hey, mountains of Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday night, we went up into one of the mountains for a Bedouin dinner. We did not know that part of a Bedouin dinner is being charged 150 LE for waiting five hours while the food cooks. I was starving by the time it came out but it was delicious (I think). The bedouins made a fire and cut up lots of vegetable and lamb and roasted it on coals from the fire. While we waited, we climbed some hills to get better views of the area. In one area, the bedouin that was showing us around demonstrated that there was an echo by yelling, "MICHAEL JACKSON." I asked him if he liked Michael Jackson and he laughed, "I have no idea who that is."

Dusk up in the mountains.

The other burning bush.

Monday night, we headed back towards Cairo in a microbus we rented. The bus went up Taba and then cut across the peninsula. We thought we'd save at least an hour or two since we weren't going around the tip. It turns out we would have if it wasn't for stopping at Taba for about an hour. Taba is the entry point into Israel from Egypt. Right across the border is Eilat. Why did we have to stop there even though we weren't crossing any borders and simply going back to Cairo? Because this is Egypt. We saw people walking in and out of Israel and were about 50 feet away from the country.

Stephanie is pointing at "Chick Point." We were north of that at the border crossing. I am still confused as to why we went all the way up there instead of making a left and going off to Cairoh right away.

After waiting an hour, a plain clothes police officer carrying a sub-maching gun joined our party of six. He told us that since we were Americans, the government requires us to have security. I'm still not clear on why, then, we made it from Cairo to Nuweiba without a sub-machine gun carrying man. Since we wanted to get back to Cairo not too late, we felt pressed for time and urged our driver to hurry up. He demanded that before we leave, he buy cigarettes. We kept saying no and to just go since we had already wasted an hour waiting for our security. He refused saying, "If I do not have cigarettes, I will not be able to see the road." We then said that if he stopped again to find cigarettes (since he had already stopped at one store which didn't have any) we would take 50 LE off from the agreed upon price. He freaked out saying that it would only take a minute and then he frantically sped into a parking lot, ran out of the car, bought cigarettes, and sped off at 160 km/h which is 99 mph. As Brendan noted, that is how you know you may have a smoking problem.

The road was bumpy and we still had to show our passports to officers at various checkpoints (despite the cop saying that since he was with him, we'd speed through everything) but we made it in just enough time for me to catch the Metro home. And we didn't take off the 50 LE.

1 comment:

  1. mark, i really never thought or imagined egypt to be this fun!