I know that the name is ‘stolen’ from a show on Nat Geo Adventure, but unlike him, I really do wish some people will never read this post. Well I know my parents don’t check out the blog, but at least I hope any of those who know my parents wouldn’t tell THAT SPECIFIC story in front them. Could get in some trouble *Angel Face*
At the end of January, someone very special was here in Egypt. Her name is Anna, she’s somewhere between 45-50 years old, and she is a full time pilgrim. She has been on so many pilgrimages, all of them only on foot, very long routes, and all of them in winter. That’s why she was called – and now calls herself – the winter pilgrim.
So to say it in brief, Anna is currently on a pilgrimage from Santiago de Compostela, Spain, to Jerusalem, Palestine; All through North Africa, walking across 5 Arab countries. As an Arab, I know this is not easy. Even an Arab would be afraid to do such a thing. But well, she says it was really nice, and people are always very kind and helpful to a real old school pilgrim like her, who carries no money or extra food for the following days.
I found her blog by mere chance, and going through her latest posts I knew she was still in Egypt, and I emailed her asking if we could meet up while she still was in Egypt. A few days later she told me she was in Cairo and heading to the monasteries of the Red Sea, 4-5 days of walking in the wilderness of the Egyptian Eastern Desert with no villages in between. One week later she called me and told me she is in Hurghada and she will take the Ferry to Sharm el Sheikh on Friday. I told her I’ll pick her up from the Sea Port and that she could spend the night at my place.
Friday morning I went to pick up someone that I don’t even know how they look like 🙂 But well I found her. We spent the whole day trying to figure out how her next leg of the pilgrimage could go looking for “Wadis” on Google maps so that she could walk her way through Sinai Peninsula to St. Katherine monastery and then from there to Taba, the land border with Israel.
After figuring out that it was really hard because of the amount of mountains, we decided to check the Tourism police, because we thought they would have a more detailed map of the available dirt roads and the available water sources in the desert.
And this was when Egypt started showing its unfriendly face, the police was very unhelpful, while I know why they did this, but there were available solutions that they didn’t just try thinking about. They told us that she is not allowed to walk through Sinai Peninsula, and that she has to take a car! We argued and argued, but they wouldn’t even hear our arguments, saying it is very unsafe for her to walk in the desert at the current situation, and that she wouldn’t be allowed to do so under any circumstances.
So the next day Anna woke up with the decision that she will accept my ride to St. Katherine. I go ask my dad if I can leave for the day, (we are working together, all alone in our pharmacy in Sharm el Sheikh) and he says it’s ok but that I shouldn’t go any further than Dahab because it’s unsafe and there had been rumors of 2 tourists getting abducted on the road to St. Katherine. So I said fine, deep inside knowing I’ll still go to St. Katherine anyway to drop Anna there, she had no other way of going there!
We leave Sharm at around 2pm, I was hoping I’d reach St. Katherine by 4pm maximum so I would make it back during day light, or at least reach Dahab during day light. But you can’t lie and be so lucky. So right in front of the check at Dahab I hear a very loud noise coming from the car. It’s the exhaust system, I thought it had a hole in it or was leaky from somewhere. So I decided against time and thought I should go into Dahab and find a mechanic to fix it so I’d be able to drive to St. Katherine and back with it.
A quick look and a couple of questions to people on the streets, then I was told that I ‘might’ find one in the industrial area. I went to the industrial area and it was deserted. No shops opened or people on the streets. Finally I found someone and asked him if there’s a mechanic here who could fix this. He told me the mechanics are all closed down today, but he can help welding the metal together since he’s a blacksmith. Left with no other options I agreed. He actually did a good job for someone who doesn’t work on cars, but he fixed the pipes together (which was totally cut from right under the engine, for those who know car mechanics)
We continue our way to St. Katherine, and its already sunset. Soon it was totally dark, and the road wasn’t very nice, full of dangerous turns around mountains, and it had no lights at all, not even the light reflecting things that usually line the roads. So I was kind of scared to return, yet my father was expecting me to be back soon! Sooner than I expected he started worrying coz it was getting late and he called me, so I told him that the car broke before Dahab and that I was driving really slow, I’m now in Dahab fixing the car, then I’ll eat something because I didn’t eat since the morning and then I’ll head back to Sharm (I could be a good liar sometimes *innocent look*).
What he told me next is that it’s not safe to drive at night, so I should ask the check point at the beginning of the way if it’s safe enough to go back to Sharm during the night. Not to be that big of a liar, I asked the military check points at St. Katherine. And they told me it’s not very safe, turn out that those rumors about tourist abduction was true after all. While I won’t be of much use to the Bedouins if they abducted me, coz I’m Egyptian, but still I used this point and called my dad and told him they check point said it’s not very safe so I’m sorry but I’ll have to spend the night at “Dahab”.
Ever had to lie to someone close to you? Family members or someone special but you had your good reasons to do so? I don’t usually recommend lying, i honestly hate liars and consider one of the worst sins ever, also eventually you’ll get into trouble as you’ll see in part two of this story, but sometimes, like in my situation here, if I didn’t lie, Anna would have faced lots of difficulties! That’s the paradox here. Hope I did the right thing.
Stay posted for part two of the story, I think it is even more fun! )
Not all photos in this post are mine, those which aren’t are linked to their owners’ websites.
Read part II “Mistakes and Pay Back Time”