Sunday, July 02, 2006

Arrived in Egypt Safe and Sound

There is internet access at the hote where we are staying. Sadly the computer isn't one that I can conveniently slot in our camera's memory card. Not bad for a different country though.

Our flight from Manchester was pleasant and uneventful. Because we were so early at the check in desk (2nd in line) we got row 1 with leg room. It turns out that if one is flying Exel Air, a charter holiday airline and you show your diver card, you get an extra 10 kilos weight allowance. Way to go Excel!!!

The flight staff was just like all other flight staff, busy and a bit impersonal at first. As the flight progressed, they warmed up a bit. They discovered that George has a curious mind. He was always asking what it was that we were flying over. There was range of mountains that this parents couldn't identify. We can usually spot the Alps easily. So George asked the flight attendant and she asked the pilot for him. The mountains were the Dolomites and the country was Croatia. Cool!

After flying over the mediterranian, we went east and started flying over North Africa. It was desert for ages. The arabic word for desert is sahar and we were flying over the northern end of the Sahara. We saw beautiful and huge dunes. It was very "English Patient". After flying over the desert for quite a long time we saw the most beautiful strip of verdant fertility. It was such a contrast from the thousands of miles of seemingly lifeless desert. This green area had a river running down the centre of it. It was the Nile and the green area is the famous Nile delta. No wonder it is where this civilization began. It was so obvious to me from the air. All that life!

Just after the Nile the plane turned south a bit and over the Suez. There were lots of big ships as there should be. The Suez being such an important shipping area. The plane started its descent and we flew right over the Ras Mohammed National Park. The copper blue and green reefs looked SO inviting. I can't wait to get there! The sharp mountains below us include the famous Mt Sinai of Ten Commandments fame. (if I could, I'd insert a photo of Charlton Heston in his big beard and stone tablets right here - so you'll just have to imagine it) All I could think about was the Book of Exodus. I can't imagine leading the tribes of Israel out into this desert and into those mountains. What a sight it must have been. We then flew out over the Gulf of Aqaba with Saudi Arabia to the right (another country to add to the list) and turned around to land. I will admit it was all so beautiful with the mountains and the sea as the sun was setting that I got a bit tearful as we landed.

Getting off the plane one can't help but comment that it is exactly like stepping into an oven. It was about 40 degrees with a dry wind blowing adding to the atmosphere.

Reason I like marble tiles on airport floors: You can stand in the long queues to get through passport control with your carry on case at your feet and as the line progresses, one can just shove the case along with your foot and it slides beautifully.

There were many many helpful Egyptian men at the airport trying to relieve me of our luggage. We had all our luggage and diving gear heaped onto one luggage cart. While Henry went ahead with George to try to find our mini-bus to the hotel, I went behind pushing the luggage along. The first couple of helpful people were turned down politely and they went to go try to help somebody else. A few more were more insistant on helping me and wouldn't take no for an answer. I then said NO quite firmly in Arabic while giving them a look that I usually reserve for badly behaved teenagers. They let go pretty sharpish.

Our hotel is nice. It is spotlessly clean and they keep everything, despite some slight signs of age, in good running order. The security in Sharm el Sheikh is very high. I feel quite safe here.


saz said...

Yikes - Egypt - did I miss the post that said this was your destination? How cool - sure wish you had the ability to post pics!

Anonymous said...

Hi Peggy
Writing from rainy scotland just now so feel deeply envious of your 40c and impending diving....

Hope you have a GREAT time and ...
be careful out there

Take care now. Peter and Laurence (don't mention the world cup or I'll get cross) Wilkinson

gran said...

oh, my! what an adventure! I get choked up just thinking about you seeing all those beautiful places, especially the nile valley after the sahara.

keep on having a wonderful time!

J-Funk said...

I love your description of the flight - usually all I see are clouds and when it's not clouds I have no idea what it is. Although on my flight to Hawaii a few years ago they had a GPS tracking map up on the front screen during the whole flight that always showed you right where the plane was over a labeled map - it was totally awesome.

tom said...

nice account of the flight....good luck & have fun!