At Least the Hotel Was Nice
So my Dahab vacation was awful. The first day there was nice and we had a pleasant evening. The second day was fun but in a frustrating kind of way. We went snorkeling and I had a lot of problems with my equipment sucking in sea water or water leaking in to my mask. I kept having to go back and get new gear and by the time I found something that worked I had lost my group. Its both dangerous and less fun to swim in the ocean by yourself so that was more or less the end of my snorkeling experience. I did get to see some really cool corals and fish and such under the water. But in general the experience was just frustrating.
The next day was Sunday and Dan and I stayed in and just relaxed pool-side and read and took it easy. We wanted to be well rested for climbing Mt Sinai. I was having a little bit of tummy trouble too. Before we left Dan and I each got a roast chicken, vegetable stew and rice from some random local eatery.
The bus ride from the hotel to Sinai was kind of impressive. There was no moon so it was pitch black out – you couldn’t see anything at all. In all my time I’ve never been in such complete darkness out in the wilderness. By the time we got to Sinai my stomach was a little uncomfortable but I didn’t think much of it. We got our tickets sorted out and started hiking up the mountain. Our guide was really hauling it and the train is’int lighted. There was enough natural light that if your eyes had been given maybe a half hour to adjust, seeing would have been no problem. But there are just enough flashlights in the hands of tourists to utterly ruin your night vision without actually illuminating your path. So if anyone wants to climb Mt Sinai at night, get a flashlight. There were plenty of mis-steps and I actually took a little tumble.
But we were moving so fast it was really making me feel ill. I had to stop every 5 or 10 minutes and take a rest. After about 45 minutes we hit the first rest station and even though we stopped for a bit, soon after we left the way point I needed another rest. To keep from slowing the group I decided to get a camel (there are people lining the mountain offering you camel rides up if you get too tired) and I would meet them. As soon as I got on the camel’s back and everyone else left, I got violently ill and threw up several times. I managed to miss the camel and my pants leg. Which was lucky for both of us. The bedouin took me back to the way station and I sat there shivering in my winter coat with the people old or fat (not being mean, they were honestly either over 60 or over 200 pounds) until just before sunrise.
In the late fall and early winter months, Sinai is cold. Just below freezing. Bring a warm coat and a hat.
By the time I noticed the sun had started to rise I was feeling better so I hiked up the mountain for a bit until I found a stone formation that worked like a natural recliner. So I threw down my backpack to use as a rest and reclined to watch the sun come up. It was very peaceful. I was all alone and only the occasional person walked by. It wasn’t exactly a transcendant experience – my stomach was still bothering me. But it was still enjoyable. I met up with the group a few hours later and we toured St Catherine’s. I strongly suggest that if you want to take the St Catherine’s tour you do some research on the artwork first. I thought it was really enjoyable but a few of the others didn’t know anything about what they were looking at. So it was lost on them.
We made it back to the hotel safely by about 11:00 and after that I became violently ill with dysentary. It was awful. I didn’t eat anything more than crackers for almost 6 days. I couldn’t even keep water in my system more than a few hours and I had to run to the toilet every hour or so non-stop for 4 days. After Sinai I didn’t leave the hotel. So at least my room was nice.
I was still sick when we left but it was more calm. Dr Alkomi managed to arrange for Trevor and I to get plain tickets from Sharm to Cairo and he called short his own vacation to meet us there and arrange a hotel. The next morning he took me to a doctor. I had already been on antibiotics and other drugs and I think by that point there wasn’t much more to do. He gave me a new prescription (which I only took twice because it gave me a terrible rash on my hands) and rushed me out of his busy ER. Let me tell you, traveling with dysentary is a frightening and uncomfortable experience. In all the years I can remember I have never been that sick.
But after about 6 days and 15 pounds I pulled through and was able to eat. Unfortunately the midterm exams, combined with a terrible vacation and only 10 class days left, has utterly destroyed my motivation for classes. But that’s not so different than in the states. After Spring Break, with only 3 weeks of classes before midterms, its always hard to study.
My adventure is soon coming to an end. There are 3 full class days and 2 days of exams. Next week we’re taking a cruise down the Nile. After exams my two best friends are flying in from America to spend a week in Cairo galavanting. Four days after they leave I board my own plane and fly home. I only have 30 days left in Egypt.
Only other interesting bits of info are that I turned 23 today, December 1st, and tomorrow we’re going to see a soccer game. Will let you know how the next couple weeks turn out. Between football and the Valley of the Kings there should be a lot of cool stuff going down.