why camels are decent mobiles

i would like to take this opportunity to discuss 3 overland transportation options and outcomes as a sovereign stranger in egypt. waterways have already been adequately addressed, as alex explained the absurd ping pong approach to sailing that we experienced, so we will move on to more familiar and ordinary modes. cars and their variants, as we spoilt westerners know them, are valuable and expedient; even those publically provided ones work better than walking. but, for some reason, in some places, this fact is fictitious in the fullest.

let’s begin our exploration of the egyptian auto in the form of a bus. most sane people read a sign that says ’14 hour overnight bus ride’ and just keep walking, eliminating stated locale from future visitation, but most sane people do not quit their jobs in the midst of a global recession in order to wear the same 3 outfits (in no particular order) for 6 months straight. either way, we unblinkingly bought the tickets, bought the snacks and boarded the bus in hopes of traversing to dahab from luxor in a more comfortable fashion than the likes of desert trekking. and you know what, the first 20mins of that ride (aside from the 7 yr old boy who tried to charge me 1 egyptian pound for kicking my bag farther into the lower compartment) were truly glorious –  the spacious seating and ac were promising and borderline luxurious. but then of course the bus began to stop frequently and fill, which is contemptuous in its own right. to take it that frustrating step farther, we had to keep moving around the bus as seat totalitarians usurped our thrones. apparently, despite the lack of any other form of road rules, assigned public seating is not only followed but acutely enforced. after a rather jolting process of elimination, we matched our ticket scribbles with those on the ceiling and prepared for the long sit.

‘that’s nothing,’ you say, ‘just obey.’ that was just the pleasant beginning. about 2 hours into the trip, we stopped to check tickets. why that could not have been done as each individual boarded i will never comprehend, but it started a monotonous trend that continued the rest of the ride every hour on the hour. one of the two drivers would pace the bus asking for us to produce proof of passengership – the 6 sheets of identical paper stapled together – sufficiently terrorizing even the most resilient rester. of course, one would assume that the other driver would continue driving, but one would be very wrong. we had to stop to do this. other times we would just stop, either because a concrete wall popped up out of nowhere (we were not permitted to exit on such occasions) or someone needed a spot of tea (we were not permitted to exit without showing our tickets, but allowed to board without tickets). we did not, however, have to stop for them to switch driving arrangements, and after watching us swerve into the sand on 3 separate occasions i decided the road wasn’t really decent scenery after all. the night was needlessly endless, and sleep ever elusive. 8 am brought a new game to town (i know the exact time because there was a giant, one-hour-too-fast digital clock on the dashboard), called ‘show us your passport, whitey.’ this did not replace nor was it simultaneous with the ticket-check game, but it did occasionally bring aboard uniforms and guns, and the intervals were sporadic enough to keep us from wishing for another shot at nighttime nods. 19.5 hours later, we dumped our bags in the red sea, and took an afternoon swim to saudi arabia.

nutzo, believe you me. what’s even more incredible is the manner in which the boats for scuba diving are run. yea, i know i’m supposed to stick to terrestrial transport, but just bear with me for a moment. time in egypt really defines relativity, so when asked to show up at 9:30am for a 10am dive departure for a site 30 minutes away, we took orders less than optimistically. as neatly and accurately as possible, we piled our gear into little boxes and then the little boxes onto a flat wheeled trolley. in all my certified diving years, i have always then followed the tanks onto a boat, but on this day, we rolled it out past garbage and kitties and broken down jeeps, straight to the back of a pickup truck. it definitely reminded me of white trash quarry diving as the divemaster climbed into the bed with the tanks. the remaining divers were convoyed in the back of a rejected army jeep, fully wet-suited. flying past the gear truck and into the desert, we turbulently tilted side to side at a speed that made me rethink the dangers of diving. we ‘anchored’ and eventually rejoined our oxygen, so as to do 2 ‘drift’ dives back to the jeep. you would think that being a desert/beach chameleon would make such a vehicle reasonably tough, but its captain was quite keen keeping the sand out, and would even go so far as to sweep the sand back into the desert. in a very larry david moment, alex made the critical mistake of dragging a boot full of sand into the back and was not only scolded, but in serious danger of being abandoned, post-dive, in a dangerously desperate way. after a repentful game of ‘load the tanks yourself,’ he was permitted to board ship again and even managed a smile.  in case the experience alone wasn’t enough, the process of payment made for a nice nightcap. we paid for this holiday haulage with ebay purchased, 1940s era horror comics so i guess the cliché ‘you get what you pay for’  resonates reasonably with the egyptian barterer.

our other opportunities have been a bit more standard, but none the less asinine. borderless and universal as well as aptly named, landrover is the forthcoming friend of any earthen expert. so safari hardy it is, that our next pimp ride happened to be in one. sinai, our upcoming previous scene, is desperately dry and crumbles with the breeze of a sneeze so it is surprising that there is even a slightly mountainous landscape, let alone a fortified canyon center. to get to such a site, you must first attain our highlighted mobile medium, and then pack it full of non native english speakers and 2 americans. all other anecdotes aside, our driver had truly mastered his craft. not only did we manage to catch air with even so much as a wink of a sand dune, we were always the first to arrive anywhere. our accompanying slovaks were not quite humored, as demonstrated by the one woman who wept so as to keep from pissing herself. curtailed, the driver busied himself with cellular communing until he desperately asked for her allowance to show off his skillz. his excuse, ‘we need to go fast now, there is sand,’ was about as desertly dense as saying ‘we need to open our eyes now, we are awake.’

and so it remains – the egyptian preference for camel toes over windows, and sagging smelly saddle bags over proper luggage tags.

dive boat and master

dive boat and master

the great sinai desert mushrom

the great sinai desert mushrom

in she goes...

in she goes...

...out he comes

...out he comes

the worst busker in the world

the worst busker in the world

our driver took an afternoon prayer to ensure our safety

our driver took an afternoon prayer to ensure our safety

the stupids step out, then sit down

the stupids step out, then sit down

foreplay before the hump

foreplay before the hump

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One Response to “why camels are decent mobiles”

  1. the tires are the things on your car. keep on keepin on (and writing about it). ❤

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