Monday, June 4, 2007

To Egypt!

May 15th, 2007

One dream of mine was to visit Egypt! I didn't realize that this would be the year to do it until Henry asked me (with a wink and a smile in his voice), "Wanna camp out in the Sinai?" "Sure," I said with enthusiasm.

At 7:15 A.M., we found ourselves on a bus cruising south along the shore of the Dead Sea, headed to the seaside resort of Eliat. We passed Massada, a place of great political significance, in which a renegade group of Jews held out against the powers-that-be in the ancient of days.

Eilat is like Atlantic City, NJ! There are hotels that look like skyscrapers reaching for the skies, with all kinds of water activities on the Red Sea. After a quick lunch following the five hour ride, we crossed the border at Taba, Egypt! What a change: air conditioned passport office in Israel, fans blowing and an old out-post, circa 1950s, in Egypt. There was a Hilton Hotel with casino on the Egyptian side, but the area was vacuous after the hub-bub of Eilat. Israelis have been scared off by the violence in the area over the years, and are waiting for it to subside before they invest again. Meanwhile, there are hotels upon hotels that look like ghost-towns all the way to Nuweiba.

An hour later, in Nuweiba, we met Moussa and Ead of Abu Noud Travel Agency, our pilgrim guides for our next venture: off-road camping in the desert! The desert was mountainous, with no one hill like any other. We saw Bedouin encampments in the middle of the desert, and were amazed at the ability for people to live in the middle of absolutely nowhere! Moussa and Ead were gracious hosts, showing us the way of the pilgrim, like Moses and the people of Israel.

We planned to camp outside, with the canopy of stars overhead, until it began to rain. This was a blessing for the people in the desert, and the Bedouins rejoiced for the rain! Quickly, we made it to a Bedouin tent, covered with goat hair blanket that quickly closes up when wet. We ate a wonderful dinner that night, the rain stopped, and the stars came out. In the middle of the desert of the Sinai, we were amazed at the plethora of stars, starting with Venus and the moon coming out first, followed by a panoply of twinkling jewels.

Egypt! A land of pilgrimage!

Pilgrim peace, Brett