salaam alaykum

Greetings friends,
Just wrapping up the first leg of this trip here in Egypt. Ready to make
my way to Pakistan, meet Matt, had have more grand adventure.  Well, I have negotiated the back alleys of another sleepless city.  Cairo (pop 20mil) can be intimidating at first. Yet if you summon up the courage to dive into the thick of it, the reward is abundant. Spending time in a city that literally never sleeps provided ample opportunity to tuck into a number of generations old ahwan (coffe shop) and sip a cup(s) of the best coffee I have ever had amongst masses of other Cairenes. The friendly “salaam a laykum’s” (peace be upon you) definitely make one feel welcome.  After coffee one morning I was trying to decipher the cities buss system, en route to the pyramids of Giza, when a kind faced older gentlemen approached me. It must have been obvious I didnt know what I was doing, because he pointedly asked me what I was trying to do. When I told him, he said he lived near Giza and that I could ride the busses with him the whole way. We hopped from one buss to another and finally arrived at our destination. Not only did this gentlemen help me along, but he paid my buss fare! We parted ways with a firm handshake and an exchange of phone numbers with a promise to call. This kindness was refreshing in a city of smog. All of this to get me back to being a tourist. I rented a camel, yes a camel, and spent the next 3 hours riding around the pyramids of Giza, the ancient wonders of the world. They are a wonder.

The next day I hopped on a bus for 9 hours through the desert to St. Catherins Monastery, at the base on Mt Saini. Given the bus broke down twice en route which caused substantial delay, we didnt get to our destination till the late hours. I got off the buss and started hiking toward the mountain. Feeling my way through the dark, I find the trailhead, only to be closed and guarded…….nothing a little backsheesh cant handle. 85 egyptian pounds later, Im on my way. I find a nice little cave a few km up the mountain to doze in. At 3am, Im awakened by an ungodly number of pilgrims making their way up this Godly mountain. I pack up and follow suit. From the summit of Saini, I watched a beautiful sunrise amongst the chanting and singing of 200 pilgrims. It was an inspiring and disheartening experience at the same time. Inspiring to see the many elderly men and women make their way up the 6km and 3750 hand laid granite steps to the summit to see this mountain of mosses. Disheartening because of the 2k plus years of refuse and excrement deposited on the slopes from these worshiping masses. I hope we learn to treak ouw mountains better than this.  Getting out of saini proves to be more of a challenge than getting in. I met another traveler who wanted to go in the same direction I did, which apparently nobody else ever went. he and I hired a car together to drive us out 70km to the junction where the road went north and south. The driver of the car would not travel any further. So we thumbed a ride in the middle of the desert, each to our separate destinations. Which brings me to where I am now. A place called Dahab.

Word is that it was the Koh Samui of the middle east. Well, maybe it
once was. Its still a beautiful beach town on the gulf of aqaba. Yet has turned into what you would expect, overpriced, and overrun with culture ignorant westerners. Matt, It is though the new wind mecca. Pole boarders and kite surfers are in heaven here. The snorkeling has been out of this world! The beautiful beaches look out over the Red Sea to Jordan and Saudi Arabia on the other side. Somewhere over there is the lost city of Petra. Regardless of all the smelly hippies running around in short shorts, drinking alcohol in public, and paying too much for their chinese made “arab hats”, even during Ramadan, Dahab is still a magnetic and relaxing place. But tomorrow, I will be back on a bus to Cairo, the next day, on a plane.

Thats where I am, what Ive been doing. Now Im gonna go get some food.
getting A.D.D.

mi salaama, clint

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Alpine Edge Engineering, LLC
Matthew D. Hepp, P.E.
605 River Park Drive
Ridgway, Colorado
(970) 318-1469
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