Every night before I went to sleep, I wrote down all the sights and sounds I could remember from that day. So here you have a compilation of all my random moments throughout the trip, documented each day, which I hope will provide you a glimpse into the fast pace and friendly faces, along with the unusual hustle and bustle of
11.14.08 ….day one…. (buses and taxis)
Today we arrived at the border, went through the most unofficial of entrances, bartered for a taxi, and winded our way past the Red Sea and through the
We quickly discovered that we weren’t the only ones on the road. We passed a few herds (or groups, or families, or schools, or flocks, or whatever the word is. you know what I mean, nevertheless!!) of camels. These awesome but awkward animals stumbled around the freeway as our fearless taxi driver maneuvered his way around and through them. Darkness set in fast and the moon appeared big, round, and orange, orange like a pumpkin in the black sky. It was a full moon and massive at that. I have never seen the likes of it before. It was spectacular.
We continued snaking our way around the corners and holding onto our stomachs as we plummeted down and soared up over the abrupt terrain. The windows were down. Our hair was blowing all over the place. And the driver was blaring Arabic radio most of the way. Along the way the driver made constant road-side stops and we had our passports checked multiple times.
We finally arrived in
I fell asleep tonight to the hustle and bustle of the roads of
11.15.08 ….day two…. (pyramids, camels, and mummies, oh my!!)
There was a heavy haze in the air today. I assume it’s the pollution, no doubt from the crowded roads of this crowded city.
We took the metro this morning. All of us girls in the group wore our headscarves, in an attempt to blend in. Still though we were the object of many a stare. Big brown eyes glared at us wherever we went.
I saw my first (and probably last) pyramids today. They are just like the photos. Large and triangular, placed randomly, standing tall on the sand. They aren’t just any ole sand castles though. You wonder as you look at them how they were constructed and how they have lasted all these thousands of years. It really is quite incredible. And as my friend Mayra and I were walking around these magnificent monuments of history, we were stopped by young Muslim girls for a photo shoot every few yards. “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” “Will you take photo with us?”, they ask. It was quite adorable. I tell you, we are famous here. Before we knew it we were surrounded by a sea of brightly coloured headscarves and ready cameras. Just because you have blue eyes makes you an automatic photo target here. But we didn’t mind. Actually, we loved the opportunities we had to exchange a few words with these young girls. We at least smiled in the same language. And then we were bombarded by a long procession of kisses on both cheeks, as they said “thank you, thank you.” We returned the kisses and replied in our best Egyptian accent “Shukran” which means thank you.
I also rode my first (and probably last) camel today. It stooped awkwardly to my level and I got on, behind a Bedouin man. I tried to do so gracefully but couldn’t, and felt a bit ridiculous as I could barely do so in pants, and he was in a long dress. But hey, he’s had more practice than me, right? So, after finally mounting this awkward, lanky legged creature, I enjoyed a ride around the pyramids. I bumped back and forth and up and down. But what an experience!! And to complete the entire Egyptian experience, we topped the day off with a trip to
Tonight, after all our adventures, we decided to get a flavour of the city, best done by walking through the city streets. So we did. We braved the crowds of people and dared to cross streets, which can be a life-threatening activity here in
- How often should you sound your horn? (As often as possible.)
- Is there such a thing as lanes? (No!!)
- When a turn seems near impossible and space is limited, what should you do? (Turn anyways!!)
- When should you stop? (Never!!)
- Who has right of road? The pedestrian or the car? (The car, always!!)
- What is the speed limit? (Whatever you decide it to be!!)
- Is there a limit to the amount of passengers in your car or taxi? (Of course not!! Pile them in!!)
On our walk, we also met a pick-pocket. He was a lovely wee lad; even helping us bewildered tourists make it across the street alive and in one piece. We chatted with him a bit, in his limited English. You know, the basic conversation, exchanging names and ages. Later on though, we caught him out of the corner of our eye reach into a man’s pocket and take his wallet. The crime committed, he jetted off. No wonder he was so friendly to us. It’s a pity though, to see a little kid so desperate like that.
We stayed tonight again at Sun Hostel. 9th floor. Our window was broken and so we were left to hear the cars talk to each other all night. I don’t think this city ever sleeps and I didn’t know if I would be able to either. I was dead tired but looking forward to the adventures in store the rest the week. Both the commotion outside and my thoughts inside kept me up for a while.
11.16.08 ….day three….
Today I wore a blue headscarf (one that I bartered for) and have officially decided that I like wearing headscarves. It solves a bad hair day any day, instantly!! haha.
Up early this morning but enjoyed a rushed cuppa tea at the train station, which was as you imagine all train stations to be: big and busy. This one had high ceilings, blue rimmed and rusty. Busy business men walked hurriedly by. And the woman were all dressed in their traditional wear, some in the traditional black with their piercing almond eyes peaking and peering through the slits, while others were dressed in all sorts of wonderful scarves, silky and colourful.
We boarded the train at 9:00 and settled in for a few hours trip. I listened to the rattling and rolling of the wheels and watched the world speed by my window. My eyes were heavy but too curious too close. I saw loads of old deserted brick buildings, hundreds of flats with floors stacked one on top of another stories high, distressed shutters all sorts of colours, clothes draped over the balconies being blown dry by a faint wind, boxy cars, rickety old motorbikes, turbaned men, women balancing barrels on their head, horse-drawn carts, litter everywhere, ripped remains of posters pasted on cement walls, mosques, overgrown dried grass, green vegetation, Arabic graffiti, stubborn and scattered cattle, the Nile River, and people working, picking, tending the land. I saw poverty. I saw extravagance. I noticed people walk everywhere, either that, or they pile as many people as humanly possible into cars or on top of motorbikes. Women sometimes walk hand in hand and men often walk arm in arm. I feel as though I am just beginning to get a taste of the peculiar flavour of this country and its cities. It’s only a country away from
We reached our destination right around lunch time.
As if the day hadn’t been busy enough, we headed to a local mall for dinner, followed by chocolate ice-cream, not to mention a few Galaxy chocolate bars. I was in heaven as far as I was concerned. Can’t get enough chocolate!!
We then caught a bus back to
11.17.08 ….day four ….
Today entailed a ten hour train ride from
We finally arrived at
Afterwards, we roamed the streets of
We then went to our hotel, which I would rate 5 star!! Toilet paper, soap, AND hot water!! Now we’re talkin’ luxurious!! The owner of the hotel was a man called
11.18.08 …. day five ….
We had a roll with jam, a boiled egg, and another banana for breakfast and caught the 7 AM bus. We first headed to the
By now we were starving. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast and so we had the taxi driver drop us of at this little restaurant, a ‘hole in the wall’ type of place. We had rice and chicken smothered in sauces, with a mango concoction to wash it all down. Our stomachs now satisfied, we hit the streets again for some more shopping. I really think I’m getting the hang of this whole bartering thing. I bartered a scarf down from 95 LE to 25 LE. Now that’s some pretty darn good bartering, if I do say so myself!!
We then took a stroll through
We then went to the train station and settled in for another trip through the night.
11.19.08 ….day six ….
I had a restless night aboard the train but slept some nonetheless. I ate a half a roll for breakfast and gulped down leftover water from the previous day. We got off the train only to get on a bus for 7 more hours. I was exhausted of traveling by this point but I just kept telling myself it was all part of the experience.
We arrived in the
Mid-afternoon we hopped on probably our 50th bus. Onward to Nuweba, a beach along the
We then stayed in huts, yards away from the water. We slept under a large canopy mosquito net and luckily woke up the next morning alive. The bed bugs didn’t eat us.
11.20.08 ….day seven ….
7:30 AM bus to the border. 10:00 AM bus to
So it was a full week as you can read. A week full of experiences and adventures. Walking and waiting. Taxis and trains. Sights and sounds. Fun and firsts. Smoke and sun. People and pyramids. Museums and mummies. Camels and