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December 31st 2010
Published: December 31st 2010
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(December 24th) Alex, Stacy, Tom(another guy staying at the Hostel) and I were up bright and early to catch the morning bus to the Baharia Oasis. The bus ride was not too bad it was just a bit hot. We arrived in Baharia mid-day, I forgot that our seats were up on a step and ended up falling out of it and almost all the way out the bus but someone got up and grabbed me! I got a lovely blue and purple bruise from it on my left thigh. I thanked the guy who grabbed my arm and assured everyone that I was ok because everyone that saw looked concerned! I laughed at myself as I successfully made it off the rest of the bus safely and grabbed my backpack. We were picked up by Sammy. He packed us up into his truck and drove us around the little town. We were taken to a small hotel and had lunch which was lentil soup with lemon squeezed in, a fried egg with lots of salt and pepper, and pita bread. After that Sammy told us to put on our swim suites and he would take us to the hot springs! We piled into his truck and headed out of town. Shortly after he pulled off of the main road and drove into the open desert! Not knowing that we were going to be doing any 4wheeling I was very excited! We made our way through the sand stopping at one point to help a couple that had gotten stuck in deep soft sand in their little Kia. We helped push and the car was soon on its way again. We stopped at a lake in the Oasis, the sand around the edges were crusty and salty. We noticed that there were no birds in the area, Tom asked Sammy "Why are there no birds?" and Sammy replied "Its 9 meters!" We laughed about that the rest of the day! We drove to a tall sand dune where Alex, Stacy, and I proceeded to roll down like it was a hill of grass! Invoking the inner child Alex and I also made sand Angels! Tom laughed along with us but we were unable to convince him to roll down the hill with us after he watched Alex and I crash into each other! Walking through the unmarked parts of the sand barefoot was awesome, the sand was cooler than I expected it to be. Thoroughly covered in sand we headed for the hot spring and to see Sammy's new baby camel. The baby camel was cute and I got to pet some other camels, they were softer than I expected them to be! The hot spring was not what we expected, none of us got in and instead headed back to the hotel 4wheeling most of the way back. Sammy said dinner would be ready at 7. Alex and I rinsed off all the sand in the shower, that actually had warm water!(such a luxury! You can really only appreciate when you have not had one in a long time!) Then we went and got a Stella beer and sat outside listening to Passafire over our mini speakers. Tom joined us shortly after as did Stacy. We had a peppery noodle soup, rice, Chicken, zucchini soup and pita bread for dinner. All very tasty! We spent the rest of the night talking and listening to my choice of music! haha - no one said anything so I just kept choosing 😊
After we went back to the room I opened my Christmas card from Grandma and then the present tots sent with me which is a wonderful black shirt with lacy bits on it, the best part is that it reminded me of her instantly because I know she loves them! Then I opened my card from Mom and Dad. Inside it was a silver necklace with a V on it! The card was my favorite part though, it was nice to hear words from home and Mom and Dad's encouragement for all that I am doing! Love You Guys!

(December 25th - Merry Christmas!) We got to sleep in a bit which was wonderful! We piled back into the truck with Sammy's brother and another guy who didn't speak English and headed out towards the Black Desert. We tried to go up a large sand dune and got stuck. We all had to slide out as the car was stopped sideways on the dune. We eventually made it to the Black Desert. The Black Desert is covered in black rocks that have Iron in them and are really heavy. We stopped at what the driver called "Black Mountain" He said we could walk up it if we wanted to! Excited for some exercise after so much sitting I started up. Tom and the rest followed shortly after. I got almost to the top where there were big black boulders to climb before making it to the top. Alex and Stacy had stayed fairly far below with the guide and I could hear them yelling. I looked back it seemed as though the guide was saying stop so Tom and I did. Then they said no it was ok so we kept going... Tom went all the way to the top and I stopped just under the boulders, I was in sandals and worried that I would have trouble getting down specially since I seem to be hurting myself a lot lately! Tom and I walked back down to Alex, Stacy and our guide and then circled the rest of the bottom of the black mountain before making it back to the car.
After that we were headed to Crystal Mountain. On the way we stopped in a little village and had lunch which was Tuna, cut tomato and cucumber, pita bread, and a soft salty cheese. Crystal Mountain was not what I would call a mountain... More of an area. We drove through a large area and slowly we noticed that the rocks were gleaming. We stopped and the driver took us to a rock that had crystalized. It was pretty neat, we wondered around for a few minutes and us girls each picked a small rock/crystal to take home with us.(not that our backpacks aren't heavy enough already! lol) Then we were off to the White Desert, which is split into 2 parts, the Old and the New. We asked why they were called the Old and New and were told that the Old was found first. We thought this was quite funny because there is no break between the two... We imagined the person who found it saying ok I’m not going to go any farther and then going back to that spot and continuing on and saying "oh I found a New White Desert!" hahaha The main characteristics between the 2 is that the Old White Desert had more large white stones that have over the centuries taken the shape of a mushroom. The New White Desert doesn't seem to have been carved into so many shapes as the Old has.
We set up camp in the New White desert behind a rock so we would have some protection from the wind. No tent, just a few blankets laid down and draped across the car created our corner and camp spot. The fire was lit as the sun was setting. The Darkness and the stars were so amazing! I can't remember the last time I saw so many stars. The moon does not come up right away but once it did the desert became bright again. For dinner we had chicken and veggies with rice and then we opened up a Stella beer and sat around the fire. Our 2 guides started to play traditional Bedouin music and after a while, starting with me, they convinced us all to get up and dance! It was so awesome, dancing around a camp fire on Christmas, I loved it! We eventually all started to get tired, picking a spot we laid down around the fire in hopes that it would keep us warm all night. It did for a while but as it slowly faded away the cold began to creep into my body. It was freezing! We were up early with the sun due to the cold, we packed up camp after having some pita bread for breakfast and then headed back to Baharia so that we could catch the bus back to Cairo.
The bus back to Cairo was ok, about half way back I realized that Alex and I had left our tube of paintings we have collected from each place behind in the car of our camping buddies! Luckily Sammy was going back to Cairo with us and so he called his brother who sent them with the bus the next day and then someone from our hostel went and picked them up at the bus station for us! We got back to Cairo and were taken to a new room in the hostel that slept 6. We said goodbye to Stacy who was off to the airport and then made friends with one of our new roommates Greg. There was also a girl from Germany in our room and since it was our last night Alex and I thought we would have Koshary 1 last time and then we went to have Orange Shisha and tea.
Alex, Greg and I set up a car to pick us up at 7 the next morning to go see Alexandria. The car was late and only picked us up at 8:30. Alex and I wondered if the hostel did this on purpose because they were trying to get more money from us even though we had already paid for everything in cash the first day we got there and we would not pay any more. Just a thought though we don't know for sure. Anyways, I slept a bit of the way up to Alexandria. We drove through this town called New Giza, and it is New. A new town, looks cleaner and more modern. Then we got up to Alexandria. I really liked it there. If we had not already made plans to leave the next day I think Alex and I would have spent a couple days there, besides Aswan, Alexandria was our favorite city. It was a bit cleaner, there were more women out and about, lots of stray cats, but best of all we were not hassled by anyone! The city itself was a mix of new and old buildings, there was also an old trolley system that they were still using, dirty and old looking but always packed. We went to the library, sort of... Alex and I both had a purse and our small backpacks on. Greg had a side bag with a lap top in it. Because of that he had to have special permission to go in with it so he was sent somewhere around the other side of the building. Alex and I were told we could not take our backpacks in but our purses were ok. We went and checked our backpacks in at the front and then went back in. We had our purses checked through and then sent through a scanner. Then when we went to go into the main library part they would not let us in saying that purses were not allowed.... Greg went in with his big bag and another guy walked past us and was let in with a briefcase. I was irritated and so instead of taking our purses back out and checking them as well we opted to use their toilet and wait for Greg. It was not till he came back out and we went and got our bags that we realized that only females were checking their bags. BULL! That’s all I have to say about that! Afterwards we went on the search for a restaurant called Shaban which had been recommended to us by 2 people we met in Luxor. We found it down a small ally way that you could only walk down because cars would not fit. It was a fish restaurant, and they didn't speak English so Alex and Greg did their best to order a fish variety that would not be too fishy! The food was served; fish, prawns, and calamari. I actually didn't mind the calamari, it was what I ate the most of. The fish still had the head and everything and so I tried a small bite but couldn't bring myself to eat much of it. The prawns also had to be pulled apart which Alex did for me otherwise I would not have tried them! It was a good experience but I am still not a big fish person. Then we went to the catacombs. This was really neat actually. It used to be 3 levels but it looks as though it is filling with water now. We walked around on rickety planks of wood that are warping and bending from all the water and humidity and not held in place by anything! It was fun to explore but didn't take long because it was not too big. Then we went for ice cream I had mango and lemon! Yum! After that we were back on the road to Cairo. (sorry I didn't take any photos in Alexandria)
Alex and I picked up our bags and got online to try and find a hostel to stay in once we got to Aqaba Jordan. We met a guy who had just come from there while we were trying to make plans and he said that finding a place to stay was not hard and so we decided not to worry. We took a taxi to the bus station and got on the night bus to Taba. In hopes of getting a ticket for the ferry once we arrived because we could not find a way to get them on line in advance...
The night bus was absolutely freezing! Alex and I got no sleep we were so cold! We arrived in Taba as the sun was rising. The bus driver said he would drop us off by the ferry dock, since there were no cabs running at that time, if we gave him a tip... we decided to go ahead and do that, thankfully we did cause it was a long way from the bus stop in Taba to the ferry. He dropped us off just a little ways away. We walked, which helped to bring back some feeling in my freezing feet. We had to go through a guard post and then down to the ferry. Once we made it down there we asked where we could get tickets, they said we couldn't. They had to be booked 24 hr in advance and through a tour company, only people doing day trips to Petra could leave from this ferry. After waiting around for a while we talked one of the tour guides and his friend into giving us a ride to the next town down. He waved his group good bye on the boat and we set off down the coast. Nuwebia is where we needed to be. It was a 30 min drive from Taba. The guy took us to get our tickets and then to get some bread rolls and cheese for breakfast. Another horror story in the bathroom of this café. It was dirty and as I was peeing I noticed that the water was coming out of the bottom of the toilet so I jumped up rinsed off my hands and walked out of the bathroom. The café at this point had a few other patrons, all male besides Alex and I. Alex had wide eyes and then I realized that I had been in such a hurry to get out of there that I walked out with my pants, pulled up, but completely undone! We finished a cup of tea before paying him for driving us down and waiving them good bye. The rest of the day we spent sitting around reading and waiting for the ferry. We sat in the outside waiting area for 4 hours. All the while we had to ignore all the local men staring and talking about us. It got very annoying after a while. We were the only women there for quite a while though so we just kept our guard up but no one even approached us. After that we went to get stamped out of Egypt and then we were put into another waiting area, No man’s land! We waited there for another 4 hours before the ferry showed up.
The ferry itself was nicer than I expected, it seemed fairly new and they had lunch boxes, Alex and I shared one. The ferry ride was about 2 hours once we got going. We got the fast boat which was $80 per person, you have to buy the ticket in the morning and then it only leaves around 4pm(ish)
We spent most of the ride across the Red Sea talking to the girl behind us, Susannah.

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27th February 2012

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