Thursday, April 2, 2009

Another stamp in the passport

I made it to Jordan!

After writing the last post, I went back to the hotel, collected my bags, and said good-bye to Evan. It turns out he had met someone else from our hostel in Cairo, and had plans to hang out with him. I, meanwhile, hopped on the train to Alexandria, which was surprisingly punctual in pulling out of the station. I suppose I ought not be too surprised... the trains run approximately hourly, so there's not much reason for them to leave late. It got in only 15 minutes late, too, which was just fine.

From the train station, I walked over to the bus station (probably about 20 minutes), bought a bus ticket to Nuweiba on the eastern Sinai peninsula, and sat and waited. The bus was far less punctual than the train in leaving. Since there was no schedule for stops, I can't say whether it was good at all at arriving, either. Sitting behind me on the bus was, I kid you not, a circus troupe. I was surprised to hear that they were, but not too surprised given their somewhat bohemian appearance. I wish I could tell you that they were exciting and cool, but really on the bus everyone mostly just curled up and went to sleep.

Now, for me this was a somewhat dicey proposition. Public transit anywhere isn't known for spacious accomodations, and busses are no exception. The seats barely provided me adequate leg room if I twisted my whole body and put my legs into the space of the seat next to me. This was fine, as when the bus pulled out of the station, there wasn't anybody sitting there. Then, to my dismay, at the other cairo bus stop, a man sits down next to me. So there I am, sitting with my knees in the back of the person in front of me, and still taking up some of the room of the person next to me. Surprisingly, I did manage to get to sleep, and actually slept reasonably well for the trip. When the circus troupe got off at an earlier stop than mine, though, the man sitting next to me immediately moved to a different seat, and I think we both breathed a sigh of relief.

Upon arriving in Nuweiba, I head to the Port Authority. The guard there asks me for my passport, which I show to him. He then tries to explain, no, not that passport. "Tickes" "Ah, you mean ticket? Where do I get it?" He then points me in the right direction, where there is a small courtyard with a picture of a boat on a sign with prices that approximately matched what I was supposed to pay for the ferry, but $15 higher. I asked some people I had heard speaking English whether they could undertand arabic any better than I could, and together we figured out the prices for the high speed ferry, and bought tickets. Unbeknownst to me at the time, these three british girls studying in Alexandria would be my buddies for the day. We asked the person at the ticket window, then pretty much every other person we could think of when the ferry left. Nobody seemed to have a good idea (up to and including people on the ferry), but my book said "noon, but show up an hour early", and some people said 2pm, some people 4 pm.

We got some tea, chatted, then decided to take a walk into the port authority, probably around 10 am. Once there, we are pointed to a large hall of people sitting around, and then in there to another large hall of people in line, and we're handed departure cards. I head to the back of the line, and start filling out my card on one of the mini-desks, when a police man comes up to me and pulls me to the head of the line, saying something about 6 hours (I thought he was saying if we miss the ferry, the next one isn't for six hours. One of the girls thought he said the line was 6 hours long. Either way, not pleasant.). So I get my passport stamped, and head out to the large hall of people waiting. By now it's no later than 10:30, and our most reliable attempts at communicating seem to say the ferry leaves at 2. Nevertheless, we get herded onto a bus, which leaves for the boat after only about 15 minutes. The bus stops outside the ferry, which we hop on, still attempting to gain some idea of our departure time, which now seems to be "whenever everyone is on".

We sit down, start reading, chatting, attempting to nap, when at 11:30, the boat's engine roars to life, and we pull away from the quay in short order. Half an hour before my Egypt guide book says the fast ferry is supposed to leave. 3 hours before the earliest estimate we'd heard from a live person. A full 5 hours before my Jordan guide book says the Nuweiba-Aqaba leg leaves. But hey, I don't mind getting in early.

On the boat, more napping and reading. I finish the battered 1964 printing of From Russia with Love that I picked up for 5 L.E. in Alexandria...

Okay, gotta go now, but tomorrow looks like mostly just lounging on the beach, so no reason I won't post the rest!

No comments:

Post a Comment