Monday, 24 October 2011

Ants in your pants

Well we arrived in Sharm el Sheikh airport a little late due to the Greek airport strike but our Bedoin driver Ibrahim was patiently waiting. The drive to Dahab took us through desert and high hills, it was late and already getting dark but we could make out the land easy enough. It took a little getting used to but after a while I could make out where the rains had been, could pick out some Bedoin villages and even the odd  camel. 

 The hotel we stayed at is Bedoin owned but run by an English lady called Tracey. We had a budget room, the ensuite didn’t allow for any modesty which would have been handy for such a lady as myself when I picked up a spot of food poisoning a few days later. We were here at the start of the season so breakfast although included in the price wasn’t going to happen, just tea.  This was how Dahab was run, sort of hit and miss. Our hotel was at one end of town, to go snorkeling to the local reef  (which was fantastic) we had to walk through the market and café’s. This was amusing as we disentangled ourselves from men (no women allowed) who tried to sell us stuff we didn’t want. James as ever was polite and shook everyone’s hand, the men responded with smiles and equal amusement.  On one occasion when one man tried to get us to take a taxi we didn’t need James told him he had a nice shirt on. Ha  ha, you should have seen his face, it still makes me laugh.  We had a few trips out though, one to the blue hole, an amazing reef north of Dahab, the reef is circular and has a ‘saddle’ of coral that is truly beautiful. 
 While here I was treated to a show of male temper in the form of arguing café owners,  I was at the time the only other non Egyptian/bedoin in the café, sitting in the corner drinking anise tea.  I heard the argument outside which then spilled into the café like a scene out of the OK coral, from 5  or so men shouting there was soon 15 and with them came police with guns. Oh dear, I sat there in my tankini, watching this play out, I knew that if they saw me it would calm down  after all I was a tourist and the economy desperately needs tourism.  Eventually they spotted me, and after a bit the men were separated and after a while things went back to the way they had been.  About 10 mins later James came back from his snorkeling session, he had seen a barracuda!  Yes I said but listen to what I have just seen…..
We also went up to St. Katherine’s protectorate, this is a view of the desert on the way up....check me out..

We visited the monastery that is built on the site of where Moses is reputed to have seen the burning bush.

 James particularly liked this picture because the burning bush now has a fire extinguisher next to it. 

 We had a ‘guide’ for this visit, we came away from his interesting and informative guided tour not having a clue about St. Katherine.  Later in the bedoin camp (camp Musa) I found leaflet that explained she was born in Alexandria, was   a pagan was martyred for wanting to be a Christian, her body disappeared after her martyrdom but after a vision to some monk types was discovered 300 years later on mount Sinai.  So now you know.   St. Katherine’s is a very nice place. The temperatures are cooler,  it is 1600 metres high, and it is just beautiful. To be honest I didn’t think I would rate the desert but I am stunned by it, it is just so so amazingly beautiful. While there we hooked up with a new friend, Ali, who is the entrepreneur behind the Bedoin Bus. From his garden I saw two ladies looking at me over a wall, one of them, Hodra, invited me over for tea. This is where Ali and Hodra and her sisters live..

So off I went. I met her and her sisters and some of their children, they were lovely. Hodra made me tea and fed me almonds. Then I had a wonderful opportunity to be nurse and I was able to talk about health issues and diet and all sorts of stuff with these gentle women.
The time in Dahab helped us to unwind, and get accustomed to a different pace, a different culture….I have to admit that James is much better at it than me.  The super saltiness of the red sea has been a real beautifier as our skin has been rubbed off to reveal well …more skin actually. My hair is looking great and interesting…..not as interesting as the toilet stop on the bus route from Dahab  to Cairo though which for me has to rate as an all time stand up stinker.
We took the bus from Dahab to Cairo, only 8 or so hours. Then had a really funny experience with a Cairo taxi driver who accosted James at the bus station, he convinced James that he knew where our hotel was….he didn’t have a clue.  When he had us in the back of the cab he went off to ask his friends,  James jumped out the cab and followed him around, eventually there was five of them and James all shouting in the street. We set off sort of in the general direction through Cairo traffic which believe me I can’t find words to describe. It is like swimming with piranhas and sharks and er other things like that which I never have but I know that is what it would be like. We got to the hotel, or kind of near to it, the taxi driver eventually giving up because the street was blocked off both ends by a construction site and by café society.  He was however apologetic and asked for no more money than the negotiated amount.
The hotel is set on the second floor of a building in down town, about 5 mins walk from Tahrir sq. At first sight I thought it was a derelict but when we continued up the stairs this opened out into some nice rooms, our room is nice it has two balconies. During the day it is very noisy with the street life of Cairo, during the night it is like being in a nightclub….but we sleep like the just. 

Here are some Cairo city pics..

We have managed to get to the Ethopian embassy and will pick up our visa for there today. Check out the security.

We have a lot more  faffing with the letter we need from the British embassy and the Sudanese embassy well….we went there yesterday and all I can say is that it was chaos.  We waited at the wrong place then pushed our way into a room (because everyone else was doing this) then we got pushed out again only to end up talking to the man who operates the photocopier.
Made us laugh.
We also managed to go to the Egyptian museum, here is James outside, you can see the damage the revolution did to some of the surrounding buildings.

The museum is fantastic. Wonderful. You get to walk around and sometimes through ancient treasures.
Right now I have to finish, we have to make our way back to the Ethopian embassy and then we are going over to the Coptic Christian area to look at the hanging church. ….built on the site of the hanging gardens.
Oh the ants in your pants…always wash your knickers when you take them off if you don’t the next time you pick them up they will be full of ants.
Hope you are all well. Much love. Dee and James xxxxxxxxxxxxxx


  1. Bloody hell all sounds exhausting!

  2. I am envious already of the adventures you are enjoying! What amazing memories you will have. I think your truck should arrive this weekend, I will keep my fingers crossed that you can retrieve it without too many bribes! you go.All well here, I have txtd with Kate and she is fine.I have tried posting on this blog 3 times unsuccessfully, let's hope I've managed this time.
    Dee- have you thought of going knickerless?!!

  3. I thought a week in Prague was an adventure!!! Sounds like you are getting to see some amazing things! You lucky lucky people.

    Hope you get the truck without too much hastle!


  4. Hi guys. Great to catch up with all your news and adventures...glad you are back on the road. And from another Edward Monkton.....ZEN DOG "he knows not where he's going for the ocean will decide - it's not the's the glory of THE RIDE" Big love, Sue & Anthony XX