Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The rest of Siwa

So yeah, that last post was a lie, at least in that it's a "full report". One thing I forgot to mention was that, while out by the Temple of the Oracle, we also went swimming in "Cleopatra's Bath", a natural spring. Now, I'm sure some part of me knew that Oases were fed by springs and not lakes or something, but it certainly wasn't the first thing I thought there would be. It also turns out that some of these springs are hot. Cleopatra's is just moderately warm (which was a pleasant surprise. I was excpecting it to be chilly).

I also promised to write more about the trip into the Desert. There were 5 of us total, and they took us to the Great Sand Sea, where there are lots of dunes. And more dunes. And a few springs, but mostly dunes. We tried some sand boarding, which is fun, except then you have to carry the board back up the large dune, and that turns out to be a hassle. There are also some fossils out there--it was neat to see a bed of broken sea shells in the middle of the Sahara.

Then we went to our campsite, out by another hot spring. We ate bedouin food, which was basically a vegetable stew, rice, and chicken, then spent the evening hanging out around a campfire. The stars were gorgous, when they were out, although it was cloudy for a lot of the time. Having learned my lesson on the coldness of the night-time desert, I slept inside the tent they had. I woke up early to try and take a picture of the sunrise, but alas there were still clouds, so I went back to sleep.

After waking up again, we went back to town, where Evan and I caught the next bus to Alexandria. This one was far more pleasant (aside from some confusion about our seats... despite the fact that the bus was less than half full, the conductor wanted us in our assiged seats for departure). We got into Alexandria around 6pm, then found a hotel, took showers, ate dinner, and passed out.

Today, I went off to explore Alexandria. I went to the catacombs of Kom Al-Shuqafa. Built in the 2nd century AD, with a mix of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian artistic elements. All of the mummies seem to have been moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but the tomb carvings were neat. I then walked by Pompeii's pillar, wandered through town, and then went out to the Fortress of Qait Bey, which stands guarding the harbor. I've decided to skip the Library, though, since it's a little out of the way, and having been there before, it's not really anything special. I did take some pictures of it from across the harbor though.

On the next few days: Tonight, I'm taking the train down to Cairo, after which I plan on trying to get the night bus to Nuweiba. From there, I'll take the ferry over to Jordan, so In sha' allah, I'll be in Jordan by this time tomorrow. I did leave some leeway in my schedule, so I think I'm safe from Egypt time, but we'll see. Once in Aqaba, I think I'll stay there for a couple nights to recuperate, perhaps go snorkeling in the red sea. And then from there: Petra!

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