Sunday, 29 August 2010

Asia to Africa

We did catch the boat the next day! This time we got there early and it all went very easily, except for the second time, I left my wedding ring in the hotel, but both times I've remembered before getting too far away! So we caught the daily 1 hour ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba, Jordan to Egypt, Asia to Africa. After paying our exit tax and getting our passport exit stamps, we got on a coach and then boarded the boat. We found that they had a policy of segregation - Egyptians in the main section & all non-Egyptians in the other section. We found this a bit odd & Cate being naturally rebellious against being told to do things that don't seem right, we headed for the other end of the ferry, and sat at a table in the Egyptian section. This didn't seem to be actually forbidden, though we did get a lot of looks - but these being a daily occurrence are becoming like water off a duck's back. (Perhaps one might note that one of the ducks is a bit more sensitive than the other duck and doesn't, say, love getting looked at a lot or disobeying policemen with guns who want you to queue barge or doing things that he's, er I mean it's been told not to do, etc.). Anyway, after a bit, about 8 children were chatting away to us (not that we could understand what they were saying much) and a little girl was showing off doing acrobatics with her dad. They liked our crossword and we got them to teach us numbers in arabic - very useful for bargaining with taxi drivers!

Eventually we walked back toward the other section, to find a closed door and a guard between us and it. He did eventually let us through and then we found we had missed out on a round of everyone give in your passports to immigration. So when we left the boat we had to hand them to a guy who put them in his trouser pocket. BYE BYE passports we said! This was the first, of I imagine many times, where we say goodbye to our passports and just have to hope that they reappear. Then we had to get another shuttle coach - in the scramble to get on one, the baggage hold door nearly fell on Cate's head and her bag ended up on the coach with us left behind. BYE BYE bag as well!

Happily, after getting the next coach, we found her bag dumped in the middle of the road. And our passports did eventually show up. We had met an Austrian couple in the ticket office and they decided to join us at our camp/hut site, which was a 20 minute shared taxi drive up the coast. It was so far along the beach that the taxi guy kept trying to give up but we did eventually find Harby's place (website here). We had a little hut just a few metres from the 10 miles of Red sea between us and Saudi Arabia. No heating or cooling or electricity, local food & supporting the Bedouin economy - it was our little eco-beach-paradise!

We had long chats with the Austrians, who were a great pair, I played backgammon with an Israeli expert and only lost by one, we swam, we chatted to the chef who was from Sudan, we enjoyed his hummous (hummous and felafel are my new best friends). They do occasionally have electricity there, but not that night. We could easily walk around by the amazing full moon which shone across the water. The paradise was only slightly marred by the almost impossibility of sleep in the crazy 40's heat. Outside the hut was slightly cooler with a sea breeze, but a massive beetle there drove me inside (Cate fared slightly better than I, partly because she was asleep outside before I saw the beetle...) I even went for a 1 in the morning swim to cool down which lasted for all of ten minutes.

And it was August 24th, the night before Cate's birthday.

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