About 6 hour into the bus trip I started realizing that perhaps drinking tea made with Nile water was not a good decision. Groan. The bus was gross. My seat was in the back directly over the diesel engine and the kid in front kept putting his seat back which jammed my knees in even tighter. Double groan. But soon I would be in Dahab.
When I got off the bus a fist fight almost broke out amongst the men over who was going to take me into the city. I jumped in a truck with some a tourist couple and sped off. The driver would only take me to one hotel and I had gotten recommendation from 3 travelers about Seven Heaven so I skipped the sales pitch, grabbed my stuff and headed up the beach. When I walked in the gate the manager looked at my frazzled face and told me to sit down and choose something to drink on the house. This is where I want to be!
After settling in my room and a few hours of sleep I ventured back out to the reception area where I ran into Scott from Luxor! Honestly, this is my favorite part of traveling. You meet someone somewhere in the world for a few minutes or a few days and you chat at bit. If you are lucky enough to run into them again by chance there is this great instant rapor. You don't have to go through all the pleasantries of your name and where you're from. You can just dive straight into what you've been up to and how you're doing. The stress is melting away.
Great luck. The UEFA Cup was on TV that night at 10pm so I met Scott up at 'The Furry Cup' to watch and have a few beers. What a game! I wasn't feeling great so I almost left at halftime with Madrid up 3 - 0. What a mistake that would have been. The English fans went wild in the second half and the final penalty kicks were nail biters. Yay Liverpool!
My stomach is a bit off but I'm loving doing nothing in Dahab. 3 days of nothing have put me back in the happy traveler zone and I was ready for more. On Friday night at about midnight I jumped in a minibus with 10 others from our hotel to head to Mount Sinai. Our little bus parked alongside about 8 other minibuses and 5 big luxury ones. Lots of people. I ended up in a little pack with a French Japanese couple and a Korean guy searching for the camel path that leads up the mountain. We got some directions from a Bedouin man at the cafe and sped off up the trail hearing "Want a camel? Good camel" at every turn.
There are 5 little refreshment stands along the way up the mountain. My pack of climbers were small and swift. I kept up with them til the second refreshment stand but decided to keep a bit of a slower pace the rest of the way. They would get out in front of me and stop at each refreshment stand where I would catch up with them. When we got to the fourth stand a man was there telling us to relax and wait for some more people. Evidently, we were the first to reach that point and he wanted to take up the rest of the way up. I was smelling baksheesh coming but he knew the way and said the last bit was a bit dangerous.
About 12 of us made the final ascent together. It was hard and there was a lot of huffing and puffing. Up up up the winding stair we went. At the top it was freezing cold and our guide wasn't asking for baksheesh. He wanted to rent us sleep mats and blankets. 2 please. We settled into our choice spot and shivered ourselves to sleep for about 2 hours til sunrise. When I opened my eyes everyone was getting into position to see this phenomena that happens everywhere on earth every day. There were hundreds of people all over the place. I was on a rock out in front. I've never seen a sunrise like it. You are so high up with an unobstructed view of the horizon so far in front of you. I hope my pictures do it so justice.
After the awes were over and the sun solidly visible above us all I began my search for the Stairs of Penance which is the other more brutal way to climb Mt. Sinai. I took them down the mountain and I found that difficult. My legs were shaking pleading for the journey to end. I drank a much needed coffee from the cafe and enjoyed the breakfast I'd brought while I waited for the Monastery of St. Katherine to open. Bit ridiculous really since it opened at 9am and we had to be back to the bus by 9:30 and there were hundreds of people waiting to get in. Only the church was open for viewing and I was herded in with the rest after I ran around the corner to get a picture of the great great great great ... grandchild of the burning bush. In case you were wondering, it's a blackberry bush.
On the way home exhaustion took over and I swear I started hallucinating. The girl in front of me had curly brown hair in a ponytail. I was looking at it when all of a sudden I thought, "Oh my gosh, there's a beautiful little brown puppy. It's so cute. I wonder who brought it on the bus." I was about to pet it when my vision changed again and all that was there was the girl's ponytail. Uh huh. I also from a distance saw carvings in the rock walls we passed that looked like Abu Simbel but as we got closer they would disappear. Freaky.
My advanced scuba class begins tomorrow. Much sleep is needed.