A slight detour

The general itinerary for this trip was cairo -> aswan -> luxor and then back to cairo on my own for two days. But that's just no fun, right? So I tagged along to the Red Sea for a day today to go scuba diving - yes, I am nice and sunburned - and will return to cairo tomorrow for some last minute fun in the bazaars.

One thing to note, however, is you must either 1) possess great faith or 2) not value your life all that much to join a desert convoy from luxor to Hargada (the sea side city I'm currently in). There isn't a speed limit - well there is, it's just ignored - but in a police escorted convoy the police enforce a certain "hurting along" to keep themselves amused (or at least one assumes). It's nice because they block off any intersections so we cruise through the few towns there are, but it also leaves the drivers of the various busses somewhat bored. They solve that problem by constantly overtaking eachother for no particular reason. We're riding in a tiny 8 person van, running about 4 inches behind a giant passanger coach and, in turn, have another coach riding right behind us. Our guide put it best when she said it's really best to not open your eyes for most of the journey.

But yes, here I am in the red sea and yes it is quite salty. Some bouyency problems for a few divers (too hard to sink) and generally an unremarkable dive but at least I can say I've done it.

The temple of Karnak back in Luxor was incredible, as was the valey of the kings. Too much history to put here, but just the thought of folks building 50 meter tall columns with basic machines at most is almost too massive an undertaking to believe. We rode donkeys out to the valley and donkeys apparently have three speeds: walking (comfortable), trotting (not), and gallup (comfortable again). Mine was stuck in trott. Then again I think my donkey didn't like me since he kept veering left into oncoming traffic. Every now and then they'd all break into a little race to see who could be out front, which was kind of fun, but most of the time they just stared at the ground and slowly moved us up the desert roads. But again, something I can now say I've done.

A few bits of amusement:

Jackie (the dark haired woman in the pictures) and Janine (the short haired blonde) had some sinus problems and needed to clean them up for diving today. Jackie hands out some pills and they both gulp them down. It's then that she notices the unopened box of sudafed and the now very open, rather empty, box of high power laxatives. Thankfully in the battle between Stop and Go apparently Imodium can win. It was fun to watch them run around though.

I now enjoy haggling quite a bit, and find the "fixed price" shops to be rather boring. Laughing at their first offer, walking out of the store or cab, and putting together "package deals" seem to be the most effective tools for me so far.

The hot water should now be back on ("only 5 minutes" has been easily 30) so off to catch a quick evening shower before a 4:00am wakeup call tomorrow.


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