Trip Start Jul 30, 2007
34Trip End Jan 31, 2008
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Where I stayed
So I wanted to give you as much of a realtime update as to what I am currently up too. I decided to break down and spend the LE 70 ($14) for 24 hours of wireless internet, so I have some time to spend on here. So what am I up to you ask?
Well, yesterday we departed Luxor and headed toward the Red Sea coast and the town of El Quseir. The hotel we are staying in is the Movenpick Resort, and boy is it the resort! I know I have mentioned at least once in previous posts that students really shouldn't have the opportunity to travel like this, but the group really is starting to get used to it. The resort complex is HUGE and our rooms are really bungalows with a small rock patio facing the sea. Our room isn't right on the water but from the patio we sure can see the Red Sea.
But I do want to back up to the trip between Luxor and El Quseir. We departed, heading away from the Nile River valley and toward the Eastern Desert of Egypt. There are two different roads that travelers can take to get to El Quesir, one of which is usually off limits to tourist busses. Well, because this is a geology trip, we wanted to go down the off limits road to see some of the Nubian Sandstone outcrops as well as the contact points between the Nubian Sandstone and the Basement Complex rocks. So we got to the road, our guide got out to talk to the guards, and they let us go through. I later asked our guide why they let us through if tourist groups aren't allowed, and he said that he was still asking himself the same question.
So as we continued we made quite a few stops along the way to see some outstanding geology at work. We saw a couple of the contact points between the Nubian Sandstone and the Basement complex, which is usually hard to see as it either is subducted back into the ground or it is too high to get to because of continental plate tectonics. We also saw quite a bit of rock that was highly pressurized from being so deep beneath the earth's crust. Another stop we made was at what is believed to have been the famous Cleopatra's well. This stop is so far off the beaten tourist path that we were able to walk right up to it, look down, and even walk down the interior staircase to the bottom (pictures included in the photo album). Another stop we made was at what we believe was a quarry of ancient times. On the rocks were hieroglyphs and egyptian depictions of kings and gods. Well as we were crawling out of the quarry the fun began. A truck had slowed and stopped near our bus, which at the time the bus driver motioned to keep going as if the truck was stopping to see if we were broken down. Well this truck wasn't stopping to see if we were okay. Our tour guide, the bus driver, and the tour guide's boss all engaged in what we thought was a heated discussion with the men that had pulled up. We all got on the bus while they talked (or argued) and then two of the three men got on the bus and sat in the front, while continuing the discussion with the guides and the bus driver. The talk appeared to get real intense as we drove off, while the rest of us were silent just watching in awe not knowing what was going on. We then got to our destination of a rest stop (only 5 minutes up the road) when everyone, except for the group got off. Amr, our tour guide, came back on to announce that this was our rest stop, and that we were able to get snacks and drinks. Let's just say that at the time, not knowing what had just happened, not one of us moved off the bus (because the men that approached the bus were at this stop). Amr then went on to tell us that the guys claimed to be from the Egyptian Antiquities department and that stopping at the quarry was forbidden. The men failed to show much identification to prove this, only showing the point that they may have just been protecting the land and looking for baksheesh (a tip).
In the end everything was perfectly fine and it was explained to us that in Arabic, and especially with Egyptian's language, what may appear to be a heated discussion, really is passion and excitement. We were never in real danger, just more Egyptians looking for more baksheesh. Amr told us a funny story about one of his family members suggesting the Egyptian flag be changed to having a Red, White, and Black stripe (like it does today) and a golden eagle (like it does today) but having the talon holding its hand out in a motion requesting a tip. We all laughed and then headed off to our evening lecture on geology.
I am currently sitting in my room (I know, I really should be outside but currently am charging my computer) relaxing as we aren't set to check out until noon, the latest we have gotten going in the morning. Even though we were given the late check out time, I still woke up at 7 AM to the sun coming up over the Red Sea. Today we will be leaving and heading up the coast to Hurghada, to another beautiful resort, to talk about how the ocean is changing the land formations along the coast, as well as environmental issues. Tomorrow in Hurghada we will be snorkeling in the Red Sea along the coral reefs, which really is going to be a treat! After tomorrow we depart via airplane to Cairo where we will see the Cairo Museum, the famous Mosque, and the great pyramids. I can't believe that this trip is coming to its end! Soon it will be back to class and work. How will I ever adjust.
Until next time,