Now I realize there has been a prolonged silence, but I promise I have not been idly sitting around campus ignoring my responsibilities. In Egypt, and in most Arab countries where Islam is the predominate religion, schools are released for vacation during the Eid al-Adha holiday. This gave me a span of about 9 days to travel and explore more of this region. I took full advantage of this opportunity and experienced so much that I might have to separate it into two separate posts.
But onto the Journey:
Late Thursday night Savannah and I were sitting in the bus station patiently (for Savannah not so patiently) waiting for our bus to arrive so we could board. Hours pass and we hear buses leaving for Hurghada, Sharm, and many other places in Egypt. I look at the time and realize that it is now 5 minutes before our bus is supposed to leave and decide to go ask about our transportation. Well, apparently the bus to Dahab is not worth announcing because the bus was about to leave without any word to the people waiting in the terminal. We quickly loaded our things and hopped on to find our seats.
Shortly after our bus left this bus terminal we arrived at yet another bus stop where they asked to see our tickets. I pulled mine out along with my passport (you never know with this country), but Savannah could not find hers…We had been on the bus for only 15 minutes at most and she had already lost her ticket. After delaying the bus for about 30 minutes, pulling her bag out and searching through it and paying another 20LE (as a bribe for the ticket guy) we were on our way to Dahab.
Once we arrived, we dropped our stuff off at Penguin Hotel (since I stayed there before I had connections which allowed for this) and went to wander the city. I introduced Savannah to the rug shop from last time where she bought two of her own rugs. The owner remembered me and to thank me for bringing him business he gave me a free small rug. Nothing big, but still generous. After that we headed to the painter which I loved on my last visit. I bought four more paintings as christmas gifts because really, where else are you going to find handmade art that was actually painted on the shores of land which it depicts?
Done with shopping, we catch a bus to Nuweiba where we will stay the night. During the bus ride we realize there is a guy that we saw at Penguin sitting very close to us. Naturally, we started a conversation with my soon to be “husband” – a frenchman named Olivier. It turns out he was headed exactly where we were. Now of course Nuweiba since our bus is indeed headed that way, but to Jordan as well. Making friends with him, he catches a taxi to the place where we have reservations and was able to get a room there. Side note about taxis in Egypt – almost every car that passes will claim to be a taxi, do NOT believe them. Olivier stopped a truck (which looked like it could be used to carry people to jail) and they offered to drive us. Thank god another truck came along (taxis in beach towns are often trucks btw) and we got a ride with him. Funny thing about rooming actually, Olivier did not have a reservation and got a room in about 5 minutes – we had a reservation yet it took at least 30 minutes to give us the key to our room.
We ate dinner then settled into our room. Savannah decided she wanted a shower, which she alter yelled at me for leaving her there alone since it was communal and was terrified of other people being there. I personally did not see the danger since everything was in the open, people would be able to see if anyone tried anything. But nonetheless, I was apparently in the wrong.
Word to the wise who sleep in little huts near the water in Egypt…BUG SPRAY. I was eaten alive. Literally 12 mosquito bites in one area. It was absolutely ridiculous and made it impossible to sleep.
But you do get to wake to this:
Anyway, the next day we wake and we prepare to leave for the port (we are taking a ferry to Aqaba, Jordan). We call our amazing driver from the night before he offers to pick us up and take us to the port for nearly half the price the hostel was trying to charge us. We arrive at the port and head for the boat. After a few hours of trying to figure out exactly what we needed to do in order to board the boat we were finally on the ship. They tried to get Savannah and I to leave our large luggage on the bottom, but I refuse to leave anything of mine where I cannot see it and where others are free to rifle through it. So we lugged our giant suitcases up three levels of stairs. We though since the bus was loading we would be leaving soon…oh have we learned nothing about Egypt at all? We sat in dock on the boat for hours before we finally set sail to Aqaba.
The entire trip took nearly 9 hours. That is 9 hours of sitting on a boat, reading, talking, barely eating, and refraining from using the restroom. Let me explain that a bit more. There were restaurants on the ship, but there was no one in them that looked to be serving food. The little snack stand did not have change for the majority of the trip so that option was out until near the end. And the bathroom? Well…it was overflowing with disgusting water and excrements.
Finally in Aqaba, we catch a cab to our hostel. Now the cab driver seemed really cool – he was dressed very nice, played 50 cent on the radio, and actually stayed in the lines on the road. During the ride, I think he was trying to hit on Savannah and I. He asked if Olivier and I were together which is where Savannah told him that we were married – I never expected to be married so young. Anyway, when we arrived at our hostel he tried to charge us 30JD, then 20JD…the real amount should be no more than 5JD. After lots of argument and hostel employee interference, he left with 5 JD in his pocket. Then we find out that our hostel had given away our room since we were two hours late to our reservation (I had planned two extra hours of travel time, but that was not enough for the boat) and now were out of rooms. Luckily, after explaining that we are students in Egypt etc, they decided they did in fact have another room available.
They told us to unpack, shower, do whatever we need then to return and we can have dinner. So we bid farewell to Olivier and planned to see him the next morning. Now I expected to order food since it is also a restaurant, but when we returned and sat down, they placed our dishes in front of us…BIG problem. It was fish. I do NOT eat fish. Yet to return the food is seen as disrespectful in this culture; so I sat there for awhile gathering my courage. Finally I took a bite of what I thought to be a disgusting and foul smelling creature…and I was right. It was disgusting and slimy and I hated it. But I tried it and therefore was not rude. Savannah however, loved the dinner.
During dinner, the owner came to talk to us. He asked us what we planned on doing and we told him that Petra was our goal. He then informed us of how early we would need to leave, how much it actually costs (way more than one would expect), and all the small details. After seeing my disappointment in possibly not being able to afford it, he made us an offer. He had a friend who lives in Petra and actually owns a cave in the mountains.
He proposed this: He takes us snorkeling in the morning then we go back to the hostel, shower and load our luggage into his car. After that he would head to little Petra which is free then we would be on our way to his friend’s cave where we would have a bar-b-q and spend the night. In the morning, we would wake early and visit the real Petra.
Now this definitely sounded WAY too good to be true. Not to mention we had already made plans to meet with Olivier the next morning and our hotel arrangements in Amman the next night. To our hotel predicament he claims to actually be friends with the owner of the hotel and could get us out of that obligation. So we then ask if Olivier could come with us – if the offer is legit then having our friend join should not be a problem. He refused to allow him to come because “he did not know him.”
Obviously we chose not to go with him. Instead we went snorkeling then boarded our bus and headed to Amman. Whose stories will be saved until next time.