Monday, June 10, 2013

Bus ride from Siwa to Sinai.

On the night on Sunday, June 9th, we boarded the bus back to Cairo. We had hopes of catching another bus onwards to Sinai from there the next day. As we've come to expect, we were the only tourists on the bus. It was pretty full otherwise. I learned my lesson on the last bus trip and so took a Dramamine shortly before we started.

The beginning of the ride was very pretty as the very last light was disappearing over the desert. We saw a few of the stars come out and then my medicine hit me like a ton of bricks. I was out until the next morning. 

Unfortunately, I was still aware of the very uncomfortable seats. I kept having to change positions in order to find one that didn't hurt so much. I did away with caring what others thought and, keeping my abaya modestly in place, curled up in a fetal position in my seat next to the window. That helped for a while, until body parts started to fall asleep. I was vaguely aware of stopping at a few places during night. Some people got off the bus and other got on. There was a longer stop where people got some food, but I was still way to sleepy to even consider getting up to find a bathroom.

The very bright morning sun woke me before five the next day. Josh was trying to sleep again. I noticed that we were still a ways outside of Cairo, so I watched the road for a bit and then went back to sleep. Josh woke me as we were arriving in the city. The bus dropped us off in a familiar place in Tahrir Square. From there it was pretty easy walk to the Cairo Gateway bus station. A taxi driver actually gave us directions after we told him we would walk instead of ride. We thought that was really nice of him.

We did arrive in Cairo at about six in the morning. We bought our bus tickets to St. Katherine's and found an ATM. The bus didn't leave until 11:00 that morning, however, and so we had time to kill. We sat at a cafe area in the bus station and got some mango juice and some snacks while we were there. Mostly, we tried not to fall asleep.

Our bus arrived a few minutes late and at first it seemed like it was going to be a full bus. It turned out that most people were waiting for a different bus that would be arriving at nearly the same time. Again, we were the only tourists on board. The bus took a very round about way out of Cairo and stopped at three other bus stations in the city. It was unexpected, but gave us a good tour of more of the city, mostly parts that we hadn't seen yet. We went through Heliopolis, which is a richer suburb/connected city to the north. It took a bit over an hour to get out of the city and begin the trip in earnest. At this point I think I fell asleep.

Suez, Egypt.
I woke up as we were entering what looked to be Suez. It was strange because there were many apartment type buildings that looked like they were empty. Some were finished and some were in varying states of being built. As we got further in, however, it appeared that more people were living in the buildings. There were many apartment buildings on that side of the city, and not much else. We made a stop there in town to refuel and a few people jumped off to smoke and grab some chips. We got to see a bit of the Suez Canal on our way out and figured that we would be driving over it. Imagine our surprise, however, when instead we went through a very long tunnel. From the other side we could see the huge container ships traveling through the canal. It was strange because we could barely see the water and it looked like there were ships stuck in the sand.

Looking out towards the Red Sea/Gulf of Suez.
Josh pointed out that we were now technically in Asia. I thought that was interesting. I guess it is also considered to be the Middle East. It's funny how you can travel to a different continent so easily sometimes. We continued down Sinai and made our way along the coast of the Red Sea. It was very pretty and very blue. Another strange sight however, were tons of huge resorts that seemed to be deserted. They looked like ghost towns and were completely closed off with nobody around. It was rather eerie looking. I wonder if it is because of the drop in foreign tourists or if the revolution affected the local tourism there. There were a couple people that did get off at one of the resorts that was still in operation. It looked pretty nice.

Later in the afternoon we turned and headed inland. The views of the mountains were spectacular, even if the winding road was starting to make me queasy. The terrain is so much different from anything else that we have seen. It is quite beautiful and fascinating. The mountains are all rocky and of different sizes. We also passed by a few oases with palm trees and houses. It was interesting to see the different varieties of ecosystems in such a short distance.  

We arrived in the village of St. Katherine (St. Catherine or Sant Katrene) around seven in the evening. It was still light out for a little while. I was glad because we got to see so much of Sinai. We had decided to stay at a place called Desert Fox Camp that is about a kilometer out of town. We weren't sure which way it was so I asked the driver. He told me to take the taxi, so I asked how much it would cost. He said 20 EGP. This seemed like a lot to go a distance that we could easily walk, especially since it was cooling off for the evening. I said that we were okay walking and he said that he would help us out and take us for free. I have never heard of a taxi driver doing that before! I didn't want to take advantage, so when we arrived, Josh gave him 10 EGP, which was very fair really.

Desert Fox Camp, Sinai, Egypt.

Upon arriving at desert fox camp we were wholeheartedly welcomed by Hamdi, who made us feel like we were home visiting family. He made us tea and gave us some tiny and tasty apricots that they grow here. We asked about food and so he made us some spaghetti for dinner. It was really good and especially so since we had not eaten real food since the previous afternoon for fear of being sick on the bus. While we ate we had the company of the resident felines who were quite entertaining. After eating we were very tired and so we settled down for the night in our little room made of stone.  The room itself was very dark and outside the sounds of crickets could be heard in the distance.  The air was actually quite cool and dare we say cold as darkness set.  We were told that it actually snows here in the winter months.  We enjoyed sleeping in a real bed after traveling across Egypt on a bus ride that took about 24 hours.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.