Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What a week!!

So it's been a little while since I've updated, mostly because I've been jetsetting around Egypt. I have decided to split this into three postings, rather than bombard you with one long rant ;).

Eid al-Fitr (a three day holiday to celebrate the end of Ramadan) was last week. As is customary, Caireans fled the city in droves. Not me though, I spent the first two days of Eid in Cairo. And it's incredible how different the city feels when empty. Running from one end of Maadi to the next can take upwards of 20 minutes (if not longer) during peak traffic times, yet I was whisked from my house to Road 9 in under 10 minutes. Most store fronts are empty, having closed for the holiday. Vendors are not flooding the streets as they usually do, and it finally allows you the time to sit and truly appreciate the beauty of Cairo for what it is, without the distraction of noise, pollution, and traffic bombarding your every sense.

After two days of quiet Cairo, I was ready to get out and about. Our timing was perfect, not only did we get to enjoy the quiet of Cairo, but we left late enough to avoid the crowds and rush in the resort areas of Egypt - thereby also avoiding traffic. Our choice of destination? Nuweiba, near the border of Egypt and Israel. An area that stretches along the beach front in the mountainous Sinai Peninsula. Standing on the shores of Egypt, to your left you can see Israel and Jordan, in front of you lies Saudi Arabia, separated by a small stretch of water that's maybe 4 km wide. It's a phenomenal site to see, and one of the more peaceful areas I have ever been too.

The Sinai Peninsula has a reputation of being extremely dangerous to travel through. Our trip thankfully, was hallmarked by no more than Bedouin encampments and lone camels striding along the road. We were actually forced at one point to come to a complete stop as our path was blocked by a procession of camels crossing. Only in Egypt...only in Egypt. "STOP the car! Don't hit the wild camel!!!"

No joke, THIS was our roadblock

For anybody that has never entered into the desert before, the Sinai can be a breathtaking experience. The sand stretches for miles, to be met by towering mountains that separate desert from sea. You can't help but marvel at the Bedouin's who have made this rough terrain home, and know the desert inside and out. We met some of the nicest Bedouins at our camping grounds near Nuweiba, who were more than happy to share with you their famous Bedouin tea (really, I don't know what is different about it, other than the fact that it's doused in sugar hehe), their traditional Bedouin jewelry (of course I had to get some), and tell you stories about their life and their family living, eating, and breathing the desert. It is truly and unforgettable experience, and combine it with the peace and serenity of camping near Nuweiba, and you can't go wrong!!!

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