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Published: April 20th 2006
A bit of a hike near the end of the park. Massive, with a way to climb to the top.
I picked the wrong day to be daft. Crossing from Sinai to Israel then into Jordan and trying to catch a bus/cab/hitch to Petra in one day was ambitious, it helps to be on your best behaviour coming into Israel. I was little paranoid entering the security area, I was packing a knife in my pocket reading the huge weapons declaration sign trying to decide if it was important to declare a Swiss Army (its Israel right?) A Gucci sunglasses, M-16 toting, fantastically good looking young lady didn't like that I was apparently avoiding eye contact as she was matching my face to my passport. Stephen later told me that I looked guilty as hell and my attempts at flattery should have sent me into the tank. I posses no smoothness, I blame it on the tight pants and huge automatic weapon.
Catching up/chilling out in Dahab, a shanty Sinai beach side village trying to move away from the backpacker shacks and huts into a poorly planned resort, I emailed, called and caught up with most of my stateside friends in a few strange places. Kris at the MGM grand table, (losing money?) and Josh on the slopes
of Beaver creek talking to me while cruising down the mountain. Most of the crew I travelling with in Upper Egypt were there as well along with the fourth version of Stella I've tried on this trip. With so many settled diving instructors in town there is an unusual amount of young children running around. One night, very late, a little girl was providing the nights entertainment dancing in a manner that shouldn't come till years later, tried of that she picked up a pillow and whacked a guy at our table for 10 minutes. When he finally got tried of it he grabbed the pillow and a ear splitting temper tantrum ensued. Proof for birth control and hammering it home that this isn't really Egypt proper.
Climbing Mt Sinai proved to me that all my weather toughness with the cold from growing up in Colorado has deserted me. Bitter, bitter, bitter, whiner, whiner, whiner. The trail up was lazy, allowing a view of headlamps stamping up to the top. Stubborn and wanting to enjoy the moon light we stumbled like fools the entire way up. Russians, by the way, prefer hiking in high heals. What a cast
The incomparable approach to the Treasury.
of characters on the top. Stephen, Tim and I were some of the first to the top and tried to enjoy 15 minutes of solitude and strategically picked the choicest spot for sunrise which happened to be 180 in the wrong direction. We were soon treated to a man chanting rhythmically, then forcefully, this phrase, (Give me the crystal, I'll make it pure, Give me the crystal, I'll make it pure.) If anyone has a theory on why this could be important, aliens, God, David Hasselhoff, let me know. With light approaching we were soon treated to a Nigerian congregation signing beautiful, Christian music and then hundreds of folks taking flash pictures at the sun. Sun up, time to find warmth, I dropped my rented, patched, torn, donkey blanket which I'm sure was only held together by the awful stench it was infused with. Grateful? Yes.
Travelling for one of the few times with someone that is on a traditional two week vacation I was shown just how far my food standards have dropped. For what I thought passed for a fantastic Chicken Fajita sandwich (which I'd had everyday in Dahab) was in reality a green, greasy,
Cake it on
This little girl was selling trinkets in Dahab. The best way to get kids off the sale is just to play with them.
gooey mess of a wrap and my other suggestion for Stephen had already caused him the bombed out lower GI mess. At least Tim (travelling for a year) agreed with me.
Getting out of Israel, we bargained hard for a cab to Petra enjoying a wicked Sunset, pictures of the cabby's gorgeous kids, and hitting our goal of moving from south Sinai to Wadi Musi, travel days are never this easy.
Petra, if you go to Egypt go to Jordan last because the absolute freedom of movement, the scale and rugged beauty are in direct contrast to the hustle and bustle of Egypt's Pharonic sites. The entrance is perfect, wandering down the tectonic rift you soon discover that you have a whole day of scampering among ruins without restriction. You almost feel as if you shouldn't be walking into the hand cut grottoes, as if someone took down the rope. Occupied by a range of groups from the Ptolemies to Romans, the ethnic Nabataeans used the area as a center for the spice trade in the Mediterranean middle east. Ample evidence remains of the sophisticated water systems, cut channels through the rift entrance, water catchments made from
St Catherines Monastery
Home of the descendant of the burning bush.
walling up natural formations with brick and cut rock, canals through out the entire area gives a sense of how this was a desert area that truly thrived. After walking past the Treasury the valley opens up to a wide view, hundreds of doors and windows appear in the landscape, the remains of the wide Colonnaded street show how vibrant this area once was.
Further we were very lucky to be visiting on a day when the solar eclipse occurred in the area complete with heavy cloud cover allowing a direct peak at the 80 percent eclipse, amazing.
After a couple of days we decided to see if the travel luck would continue and try for Amman and then Jerusalem. Eyes straight ahead, no funny looks, stupid comments, getting through the Jordan/Israel border was similar to departing from an international airport complete with a jet blowing bomb detector that must rip skirts off. Serious business. Crossing the border we met an Aussie, Sarah, a Canadian, Aaron, and a Kiwi, Gavin kicking off another great run travelling with some great people.
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