Seven Heaven, Dahab, Egypt.Well hello there one and all!
I do believe I've been a tad slack - I've been to three more countries since I wrote last!
I left off at Damascus, Syria, if you remember, and was in a tad of a zombiefied state due to lack of sleep...well after I'd finished mailing, I suddenly remembered that I had brought with me some tranqualizers, just for this very occasion - they did the trick, and I awoke after an 8 hour sleep feeling like my old self again (that's my old, chilled out travelling self, not my stressed out work self - I've let that girl behind me!!). Thanks to those who wrote with their concern - the sentiments were appreciated.
The next day we were off to Beirut - yeah, I know, I said I'd not go there before I left home, but the rest of the group were going -baa- and you know how it is -baa, baa! We headed off at seven, and after getting to the boarder an hour later, drove to the Temple of Ba'albeck (say out loud in deep, gravely voice!) - really cool Roman ruins - huge pillars & unbelievably massive chunks of stone that had been shipped from Egypt - very impressive. We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the site, then headed to Beirut, past countless army check points, and loads of tanks hidden under camouflage netting, some in the middle of car yards, some amongst Bedouin tents.
Our guide gave us some of the history of war-torn Beirut, and also let us in to what goes on in the mind of a suicide bomber, whilst fixing us with his piercing stare (!). It's a funny place - shot to pieces buildings, still lived in, next to these swanky new monstrosities. The president was elected by a 99% majority; his father was president, and his son will be in time. He owns the construction company that is rebuilding the city. Nuff said!! I'm glad I went, but I wouldn't go back - too damned expensive!
So the following day, it was time to say bye bye to Syria, and hello to Jordan. We popped into the duty free shop at the boarder, where Natalie did her back in, poor thing. She's OK now, but spent the rest of the day flat out on the row of four seats - a shame, as she missed some awesome scenery. Jordan is an amazingly beautiful country - mountains and valleys as far as the eye can see, Bedouin camps and goat herders dotted around, a camel here, a donkey there. Well cool. We had our first unfriendly encounter with locals - we'd stopped to ask directions, when a bunch of street kids threw stones and spat at us - not too pleasant, but hey, there's good and bad everywhere, right?
Our final destination for that day was the Dead Sea, but we arrived later than planned at 1800 as we'd got a tad lost earlier. We were still going to go for a dip, as we were all hot and sweaty, and hanging out to experience the worlds lowest sea, but as we headed for the water an army guy with a whistle and a big gun told us that the dead sea is closed after six! Israel is on the far (well, not so far, really) shore, and the place is patrolled at night.
We camped nearby, but on the other side of the road from the sea, as we knew for sure we'd get moved from there. We parked up out of sight, and had another wonderful rough camp - bugger hotels or campsites, these are the ones we all love - should be loads more in Africa too - yee-hah! We all got very drunk, especially one guy called Tod, who's a really cool, funny crop-sprayer from NZ, who ended up climbing a nearby mountain (hill), and shouting "Is-ra-el" at the top of his voice a number of times, and periodically falling some of the way down the mountain!! It was all the tour guide could do to stop him trying to swim across the sea - it was so funny!
So the next day I got to fulfil a childhood ambition of floating on the Dead Sea - it was really good - floating away on the surface of the thick, oily water, bobbing around with no effort at all, the sea stinging like buggery when it got in your eyes or up your nose - didn't hurt my cuts and scrapes as much as I was expecting though - and I have a few!!
We'd chosen a spot with fresh water running through it so we were able to rinse off - a must, really. It was a really gorgeous spot, and I took heaps of photos (surprise surprise). As we left, John (cool Oz guy) were sat up front in the cab discussing how good life was, as we watched the dead sea rolling by to the right, and mountains to the left as we made our way to our next destination of Petra.
Everyone was knackered that night, so there were no more drunken fun and games - also we were being picked up at six the next morning to be taken to the ancient city of Petra, carved into the colourful, sculpted rock. It was an amazing place - well deserved of the rolls of film I shot off there (why did I think that 70 rolls would do me for the two trips - no way, man!). At one stage I got lost, wandering off on my own, as is my way. I thought I was heading to 'the monastery', but was told that I was actually going to a Bedouin camp, by two women - both wives of the same husband. I ended up having a tea with them in a little stone hut, while their donkey chilled outside - how cool is that?
Sometimes it pays to get lost! The only blot on the day, was that after I made it to the Monastery, and was coming back down the 600 odd steps, I fell and twisted my ankle again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wa' f**k am I like??!!!! The silver lining on that cloud, is that I came back down on a donkey (terrifying experience, actually, coming down steep steps on this beast of burden), and then from the treasury, I grabbed a horse to the main gate - I'd have never justified the expense otherwise!!
I'm going to leave it there for now - I'm in Dahab for another week, so will fill you in on the rest later - before I go, though, the ankle is recovering nicely, and I've even managed to get a dive in, so no great drama.
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