Crossing the Red Sea

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Friday, January 15, 2010

Boy, have things changed since Moses’ day!

Leaving Jordan, we were shuffled through a variety of passport booths and ferry ticket offices.  All quite confusing when all signage is in Arabic, but we managed our way through.  Then we were crammed into a bus that took us down to the ferry.  Thankfully we didn’t have to pay the Jordan departure tax, but instead paid an outrageous price for the boat to Nuweiba.  But we figured that it would be a bit easier than land traveling through Israel. 

But the 1 hour boat ride turned into 1 hours plus another hour sitting around after the boat was docked - not quite sure why!  But that gave us lots of time to go through an immigration that was on the boat. 

Still, our passports were taken from us, as we needed the full Egyptian visa rather than just the free Siani.  Simply told that we could pick them up at the passport office after arrival.  In return, we were gives a tiny 1”x2” piece of paper in which an Egyptian had badly printed our named onto.  Fair exchange!

So the first mission on arrival to Egypt was to find our passports!  Not as easy a task in the chaos of people, construction, cars full of luggage, boxes, buses...

Spotting a sign about 500m away that said 'arrivals' I thought it looked like a good option.  But I didn't get very far until I was yelled at by an official who forced us to board a bus.  Instead of walking the short distance, we were crammed on with tons of people.  Once off, we followed the 'arrivals' sign only to determine that that was NOT where we wanted to be.  That was for the people who could legally get into Egypt...we still had work to do. 

Asking around, we found the passport police in a poorly labeled building.  The tiny office had travelers crammed in all facets, a large pile of passports on a table, and a little man behind a table.   After squeezing our way to the front, it was determined that our passport was there, but not our VISA.  This was something we were supposed to bring with us.  And where do you get said VISA?  At the bank, of course!  Could be a good little revenue building side business for Canadian banks...

The best thing about these banks/visa offices, is that they only take American Currency for payment, and it has to be the exact change...?!?!  Thank goodness I'd brought a little along with us from Canada.  Stashed in that secret pocket not knowing when it might come in handy.  I didn't think this would be what it was used for though. 

So there we were, fighting our way through the crowds with Visa in hand, but no passport...

But not as strange as arriving back at the passport police to find a very grumpy lady jump at my entrance to the office.  Apparently my passport already had a VISA and stamp in it - hers!  My passport had been picked up instead of hers.  I guess my passport photo looks like a 50 year old woman!

Thankfully the Visas are all the same, and the one I bought went in her passport quite nicely and we were all on our separate ways. 

Returning to 'arrivals' we were finally able to go through Customs.  This constituted circumventing the 100's of men pushing carts piled high with boxes and luggage, and putting our bags through a scanner and metal detector that didn't work. 

Out into Egypt, we sat for awhile waiting for our mini bus to fill.  But we were highly entertained by men piling luggage on top of vehicles as high as the vehicle itself, and hauling on a rope with all their weight to secure it in place.  It was all a laugh until our bus filled and the same was done with our bags.  But alas, there was no rope to secure them.  Driver undaunted, took off anyways (we were quite daunted!), but he stopped at the next store to buy some shiny green rope!

And now...we've arrived in the town of Dahab which seems to be a hippy haven of tourists.  I've not heard one work of Arabic, but have seen many girls in bikinis.  And the bar next door is blasting music late into the night while girls in short skirts grind into guys.  Where are we?  More like a North American beach town than the middle east.  So far the only thing that remotely says Egypt to me is the cats.
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