Friday, 9 November 2007

Return to the desert (Day 11)

In the morning there was no need for an alarm clock. There was not a person among us that could still sleep 20 minutes after sunrise. The temperature rose for 10 degrees almost instantly after sunrise.

We have spent the night under the stars, tucked into our sleeping bags. Because there was nothing between the stars and us I was a bit worried about the dew. Of course there was no sign of it. The temperature dropped just below 30 degrees Celsius during the night.

After a morning swim in the sea and a breakfast we were ready for the desert again.

The guides took us to another canyon - quite different from one the day before. In spite of that it was just as interesting.

A planned short stop at a Bedouin settlement took a bit longer then expected. It was because of a broken down jeep. We tried to communicate with the locals in the meantime. They were of course hoping to make a business deal or two. We weren't to excited about their goods but spending quite some time with them took its tool.

I watched children as they were playing and running around with not a worry on their mind. They didn't even have shoes but it didn't seemed like they missed them. I guess they can have a much richer childhood compared to average European children. They looked like an Egyptian version of Gypsy children.

After a long wait the jeep was ready and we had to rearrange our plans again. This was happening all the time and I was glad I didn't have to worry about it. Our guide Matjaz did the best he could to adjust the plans to wishes of The one above and to our wishes.

A lunch break followed. Our cook prepared a simple yet delicious meal for us at the Green Eye Oasis. We were supposed to spend the night there by the original plan but since the dispute between the government and some Bedouin clans hasn't been resolved yet, we had to head for the beach again.

On the way back to Nuweiba we stopped at some strange buildings called Nawamis. Despite the fact they are made of stone, they stay comfortably cool inside even during midday. That's because of the air between individual layers of stone.
The sunset was not far away and the light was just perfect for taking photos. I took the opportunity to take a photo of the whole bunch of our Bedouin companions: two jeep drivers, our chef and Abdullah the guide.

When we reached Nuweiba it was already dark. This didn't stop us from taking a swim. While swimming we noticed a strange thing. Whenever we waved our hands underwater it resulted in sparks flying all around. It was like swimming in a sea full of fireflies! I have heard of this thing before, but haven't seen it in person until this night. It is a kind of phosphorescent algae that causes this.

We chatted long into the night before falling asleep.


Thursday, 8 November 2007

Egyptian locusts

I have already mentioned the locust harassment that occurred close to a desert well (check the previous post for details). The Bedouins told us that some little animals are always gathering around the nearby plant called the apple of Sodom.

I took many photos. These two turned out the best and I decided to post them. As you can see there were two different kinds of locusts posing for me.

I have never seen this kind before. However I think there could be some strange correlation with the fact that this was my first time to Egypt.


Monday, 5 November 2007

Into the Sinai desert (Day 10)

This was my first true desert experience (I'm not counting the camel ride in Aswan a few days before).

If your read my previous post carefully, you should guess that our first desert stop was at a desert canyon.

The desert canyon we visited is in fact one of many wadis of Sinai desert. A wadi is a dry riverbed that is occasionally (once or twice a year during the rainy season) filled with water.

Some parts of it were so narrow that we literally had to squeeze through. And it was a tight squeeze!

In one of the wider parts of the canyon stands a strange rock formation. Abdullah - our Bedouin guide told us what it was:
a fossilized coral reef - once underwater, today in the middle of the desert.

The guides also took us to one of the larger sand dunes in the area. We even tried jumping from the top of a nearby cliff. It was more then a 5 meter jump into the sand. The landing was surprisingly soft.
Those of us who gathered the courage and tried the jump, enjoyed it pretty much and repeated it a few times before moving on.

We also made a stop at a desert well. Our all-terrain Toyota needed it badly. Still today camels drink from the well. So did our Toyota. I'm not sure whether it was the heat or simply the state of the vehicle, but it needed a water refill every half an hour.

Not far away from the well stood a plant called Apple of Sodom. It had apple-like fruits growing on it. Its fruits may look pretty, after days in the desert perhaps even tasty, but are unfortunately poisonous. The tree was full of locusts. There were at least two kinds of them. I was harassing them until we moved on.

The sun was just above the horizon when we reached a tourist camp in a small beach town of Nuweiba. It seemed like we were the only guests. After settling in we decided to take a swim. It felt so good after a day in the scorching desert heat.

I didn't realize it until then, but we had quite a full day behind us:
sunrise at 2288 meters above sea level, lunch in the desert and swimming in the Red sea at sunset for grand finale.

When was the last time you had a day like that?!

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