I am so sorry this post has taken so long! This past week the curriculi in every one of our classes here in Alexandria suddenly picked up. I had a debate to prepare and to participate in, countless pages of Islamic History to read, a very tedious powerpoint presentation to throw together and present, not to mention hours worth of Foosah corrections and language exercises. In short, I didn’t get very much sleep these past couple weeks and I apologize that I kept ya’ll waiting! So here is the story of our Siwa trip, as promised.
What all the fancy tour books and google images of Siwa fail to mention, is the “7” hour bus ride from Alexandria to Siwa. Oh, and not just any “7” hour bus ride, it leaves from Alexandria at 10 PM. And this isn’t Concord Coach Lines or a Greyhound, this bus is jam packed to the point where a reclined seat is inches from the face of the unfortunate soul stuck behind it. This bus also takes multiple stops… not for gas mind you, but for smoking breaks, usually more than 20 minutes each. This bus is also not the perfectly silent buses Americans expect, the driver of this bus very loudly plays the singing of the Quaran over the loud speakers… the entire trip. Passengers also talk on cell phones, keeping the ringer on, naturally. But despite all these things, the worst part is the temperature of the bus. In an attempt to counter-act the desert outside (or maybe as a result of the freezing temperatures outside at 1 in the morning) the bus is FRIGID. Sarah and I huddled the whole time in a weak attempt to obtain any form of heat.
Somehow, however, we all survived and at nearly 6 in the morning we arrived in a dark, deserted intersection in Siwa. Eventually, we made our way to our hotel for the weekend, the Dream Lodge. Upon our arrival, the hotel owner demanded we talk money. It was the longest twenty minutes I have ever experienced, and that’s saying a lot when you run 5k cross country. haha. But he did leave and in no time the three girls were cuddled in one big bed (that we had formed from two smaller ones). Before I knew it the sun was high in the sky, it was noon-time in Siwa.
At 2 pm our adventures began. All of us hopped into a jeep and made for the giant Western/Libyan Desert. The views were remarkable. Positively breathtaking. We drove around for a bit just soaking it all in when abrubtly we stopped and were expected to get out of the car at the top of a GIANT dune. Mr. M went to the trunk and grabbed a two foot long piece of wood with two loosely tied rubber footholds: a true Egyptian sandboard. Standing at the top of the dune with my feet slipping haphazardly on the smooth surface I had never felt so scared or so excited, especially not at the same time. The short ride was so exhiliarating and nerve-wracking.. and fun The only thing that kept me from going a second time was the immensely daunting task of climbing back up the very large sand dune. The first time was all that my calves could handle haha. From there we hopped back into the jeep and continued driving across the sand. We were taken to two springs in the middle of the desert, one cold, one hot. They were, quite simply put, beautiful. Two true oases. Before we knew it the sun was beginning to disappear behind the mountainous sand dunes. Watching the sun set in the middle of the desert was beyond words. Breath-taking, inspiring, beautiful.. nothing truly does it justice.
Shortly following nightfall we were driven to our final destination for the evening. Our campground in the middle of the desert. We were provided our dinner by candlelight, which promply went out. The food I ate tasted wonderful, especially the soup, but not knowing exactly what I was eating (thanks to the pitch darkness) made me very nervous to eat a large portion. I ended up going to bed hungry and I regret not trying more but I am thankful I didn’t wake up with any stomach troubles. After dinner we danced alongside a couple Berber musical group performers for a while then made our way to the hot spring pool where the boys braved the cold air in order to swim in the hot tub comparable waters. Out in the desert the stars are unimaginable. While sitting around the hot spring we gazed upon the Milky Way and were only limited by the number of constellations we could remember.
The following morning we left our camp to head back to the Dream Lodge. We arrived there exhausted but content. With little else to see or do in Siwa, the entire day consisted of sitting by the mineral pools, soaking up the warm rays and reading some great books. It was a desperately -needed afternoon that flew by all too quickly. I read until the words of my book were the same color as the sky and then we were off to dinner and back on the bus. We arrived back in Alexandria Saturday morning a little after 5:30 am.
I will never forget my trip to Siwa; the beautiful desert landscape, sandboarding, the sight of the sun sinking behind the dunes, my night in the desert, or the simple majesty of a day by the pool. Despite the bus ride, it was a great memory that I will always cherish!
Thanks for reading! Until next time!