THE DESERT AND THE DITCH


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Middle East » Jordan » South » Wadi Rum
May 18th 2013
Published: May 18th 2013
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KEVIN OF ARABIAKEVIN OF ARABIAKEVIN OF ARABIA

Which way to Mecca?
After three days of sailing up the Red Sea we arrived in Aqaba, Jordan. The city was filled with half a million tourists celebrating a local holiday. It was a good day to head out of town to the desert. Yazeed was our Jordanian guide. He is a Muslim who was educated in Britain and is married to a Spanish Catholic woman and has some very interesting ideas about the Middle East. He calls the Arab Spring the Arab Hell because of the instability it has brought to this area of the world. Jordan is being inundated with Syrian refugees fleeing the violence of their homeland. The numbers are reaching about 2000 a day. Yazeed says that Jordan is surrounded by “naughty neighbors” who are always causing a ruckus.

We passed Bedouin herders tending to their goat and camel flocks on our way out to Wadi Rum. The desert landscape is one of the most beautiful in all of Arabia. Soaring reddish pinnacles and flat desert floor, narrow canyons and green oases make up this stunning area. Most people are familiar with the dramatic scenery of Wadi Rum because the movie “Lawrence of Arabia” was filmed here. T.E. Lawrence worked
THE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOMTHE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOMTHE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM

T.E.Lawrence first coined the term
with the local Arab tribes in their revolt against Turkish rule during WWI. He led the rebels to recapture Aqaba and then headed to Damascus to chase out the Turks. Lawrence is still revered by the Jordanians and many children are named after him. The spectacular rock formation in Wadi Rum is named after his book, “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.”

Brooks, John, Kevin and I boarded a four wheel drive truck and headed off exploring. We stopped at Bedouin camps, rode some camels, explored the canyons and sand dunes and reveled in the mystique of Lawrence and his beloved desert. Yazeed told us that the Bedouin, in order to immunize their babies, extract the venom from poisonous snakes and mix it with mother’s milk and then rub it all over the skin of the infants. Apparently it has worked for centuries in protecting their childrene from deadly snake bites.

We spent one day in Safaga, Egypt where 550 passengers disembarked and the same number of new passengers boarded for the cruise up the Suez Canal.

The canal is often referred to as the ditch because, unlike the Panama Canal, the Suez has no locks as it slices a path through the desert. It took 10 years of digging by Egyptian forced laborers to make the canal. Initially the British were against the building of the canal mostly because it was a French idea led by Ferdinand de Lesseps of Panama Canal fame. Now it is one of the most important water routes in the world with about 15,000 ships passing through each year.

Captain McNeill said that the cost for our ship to go through the canal is around $300,000. This is roughly $100,000 more that most cruise ships pay. The reason is that the Voyager has an azipod propulsion system instead of standard propellers and therefore must be accompanied by two tugs for the full day transit of the canal. We can’t see why the type of propulsion should make any difference but in the eyes of the Egyptian Canal Authority it does. Going through the canal instead of around the Cape of Good Hope shaves 6000 miles off the journey. The savings in time, wear and tear on the ship, crew salaries and fuel pays for the cost of the canal passage.

When we came out of the Suez and entered the Mediterranean Sea, the Captain sounded the ship’s horn five times as a farewell to the Middle East and announcing our arrival into European waters.


Additional photos below
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JORDAN'S FLAGJORDAN'S FLAG
JORDAN'S FLAG

One of the world's tallest flagpoles.
MEAT MARKET AND DRESS SHOPMEAT MARKET AND DRESS SHOP
MEAT MARKET AND DRESS SHOP

All in one shopping
GREG & SUE GREG & SUE
GREG & SUE

Headed back to La Jolla, CA
CONVOY TO LUXORCONVOY TO LUXOR
CONVOY TO LUXOR

It is a very busy morning.
TUG ESCORT IN THE SUEZTUG ESCORT IN THE SUEZ
TUG ESCORT IN THE SUEZ

Cost Regent $50,000 each
EGYPTIAN MILITARY GARRISONEGYPTIAN MILITARY GARRISON
EGYPTIAN MILITARY GARRISON

Guarding the canal


18th May 2013

memories
first trip to the Suez was 1954--American destroyer in Port said--did the Safaga bus convoy---travel safe--have fun---Bill K
19th May 2013

THE DESERT AND THE DITCH
Back jolting desert rides-but what fun. Are the remenants of the battles still along the banks-old tanks, etc.? You are geting to be short timers on this trip. Not long until Rome or Barcelona--and more adventures on the river. Still jealous and enjoying your great blogs. Keep it up. Dick
19th May 2013

VALUE
You two are invaluable to the company you work for. Your wealth of information and your local contacts are incredible. I have marveled at your bravery during your travels and that you always know the best spots to go to tour. Thank you for taking me along on your journey, even if it is only via email.
19th May 2013

Desert and the Ditch
Amazing!
19th May 2013

blog
Hi Brooks, Bonnie shared your blog with me. I loved it! Looks like you're having a grand time. If you wish, check out my Dubai/India blog, travelswithpc.blogspot.com
19th May 2013

Loved the picture of the jacaranda tree in the desert! So thoroughly enjoy your travel blogs. Feel like I'm right there with you:-) Hurry home, the Giants need your support--they're in a real slump!
20th May 2013

It is quite warm here but alas no camels to get me to Sausalito. Enjoyed your trip, even if it is vicariously.

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