Jamie Rest in Peace

Trip Start Jun 03, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
The Palm Tree Hotel

Flag of Egypt  ,
Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lindsey and Brittany arrived in Siwa two days ahead of Sarah. After a much needed nap after Sinai, Brittany and Lindsey boarded took the minibus to the station to get on a bus to Sharm. They were planning to pick up one last thing of thai food and when it was closed they seriously considered staying in Dahab for even longer. To get to Siwa from Dahab, you had to take a bus to sharm, then a bus to Alexandria, and then another bus to Siwa. Before we left we found a big strong German to accompany Sarah all the way from Saudi Arabia to Lybia. The ride was long and frusting and Brittany and Lindsey considered scrapping the whole Siwa thing and going back to their love of Dahab. Almost 24 hours later they arrived in the oasis in siwa. The low light of the whole trip was during the 12 hour trek through the desert, the tempature outside was too hot and the airconditioning wouldnt work.

They arrived in Siwa and got a donkey carriage to the hotel (aka sweat box for $2 a night), and decieded to walk around and get some real food. Something to note about Siwa is that it is one of the most conservative parts of Egypt. Not only is everypart of their bodies covered in a burka, but even their entire face is covered including their eyes. We did not see a single locals womans face the entire time we were there. We went to go find Abdu, which would become the only place we ate the entire time we were in siwa. As we were walking down the street, we were accousted and tehn chased through the center of town by the local crazy. We were screaming at the top of our lungs, and ten Egyptian men came to our rescue within seconds. One of which was a man named Fethi, who would become our personal bodyguard for the rest of the time. He worked for tourism center for Siwa and made sure that we were fully comftorable and that we had an amazing rest of our time in siwa. Trust us, we definatly considered getting right back on that bus to Dahab, and if it wasn't 24 hours away we would have. All though through the whole debacle we recieved some great presents, such as "sorry you got harrassed by the local crazy" necklaces, "sorry you got harrassed by the local crazy" postcards, and "sorry you got harrassed by the local crazy" free dinner. From then on we known as the australians who got harrassed by the local crazy.

That night with our personal bodyguard Fethi, brought us around town. We went to dinner at Abdu, where we later ate every meal in Siwa. After dinner, we went nextdoor to Fethi friend's shop where he gave us "sorry you got harassed by the local crazy" necklaces. We were also forced to drink many cups of tea (in 130 degree weather, who wants a hot beverage?) and try on traditional Siwa wedding dresses. When we tried to refuse and say it was bad luck, they told us if we couldnt find someone back home to marry us we could come and be their second wives. Fethi escorted us home that night since we were a little afraid to walk home at night. The next morning, Lindsey and Brittany had breakfast at Abdu. At this point, we were still a little apprehensive about Siwa, and if Sarah wasn't on the next bus, we were going back to Dahab. We looked around the restaraunt for some comfort and found two Canadians a table over. We asked them what their plans were for the day, and they invited us with them for the day. They told us they were biking to a spring that served the best fruit juice in all of Egypt, we were sold. Val and Eric (the two Canadians) had been traveling overland around Africa by themselves for the past 8 months and had even better stories than us (we know, hard to believe). So we rented bikes as well and followed them to Tanta Waa where we were introduced to our savior Waleed and the best mint lemonaides and melango juices on earth. We spent the day relaxing, swimming, and playing Jenga, until our stomachs found us back at Abdu for some dinner. After dinner, we rode in the back of Waleed's pick-up to his amazing organic garden and new house he is building. We sampled a variety of fruits and smelled his herbs. Then we got back in the truck and drove to the salt lake where Waleed is planning to open up a hostel. The salt lake was unlike anywhere else we had ever been. The bottom was extremely hot while the water was cool and we floated on top. Our very own Dead Sea made us feel much better about missing Jordan. We got a mysterious phone call while swimming in the sea from Abdu Restaurant. It was Sarah! She finally made it!

Sarah's ride to Siwa was quite exciting. She travelled with Klaus, a German man with dreadlocks from their hostel in Dahab. About 2 hours into the trip the bus broke down in the middle of the desert. The bus struggled down the road, and had two false breakdowns before the final breakdown. The bus driver told us it would be a while before they could get another bus to the location, and klaus and Sarah had a connection in less than an hour. We debated what to do, and decided to see if we could find a taxi to the next station. Sarah stood on the road, klaus for some mysterious walked away from her, and then within 2 minutes a Bedouin man stopped and offered her a free ride. Klaus came running from behind the bus, and they both hopped in. Luckily they made it to the station in time for their bus, which was also the last bus for 24 hours.

When she arrived everyone in town was already expecting her, and had her wait for Lindsey and Brittany. Then Fethi picked us up and drove us  out to a Bedouin camp in the desert for the free "Sorry you got harrassed by the local crazy" dinner. The dinner was delicious, and the stars were amazing. We sat around a campfire and had tea and looked at the sun setting over the dunes.

The next day we returned to Abdu for breakfast and then rented bikes and headed out to Tanta Waa. Tanta Waa is named that because as Waleed was building the restaurant, the locals would walk by and say. "Tanta Waa?" meaning, "what the hell is it?" We played jenga and drank the best mint lemonades and melango juices we've ever had. As we were sitting there, waleed told us he had tried to catch a rooster in the morning, but was unsuccessful because one person is not enough to catch one. Brittany quickly volunteered to help to prove Tom wrong because he claimed that no one can catch a chicken with their hands. Waleed was happy to accept our help. After a day of swimming in the springs with the local kids, we biked to the salt flats- a large expanse of white salt sheets that could be confused for snow if it wasn't 135 degrees out. As we approached the salt flats there were numerous dead buffalos and camels laying next to the road. The salt flats were empty so we were excited to be able to show a little skin.

After the salt flats, we hopped in the back of Waleed's pickup truck and picked up huge bales of alfalfa for the goats. We then got to his farm prepared to catch a rooster.  First we fed the goats, there was a cute little one and Brittany asked its name. The goat didn't have a name so Brittany asked if it could be named after her. Waleed agreed, but said that Brittany was a male, and all male goats are killed for food. We were upset, but were happy to find out the next morning that Waleed had actually made a mistake, and Brittany turned out to be a girl.  Before going after the rooster we gained some strength by drinking the goat's milk straight from the udder.

Then we began the rooster chase.  Waleed positioned us by the door, and gave us one job- don't let the rooster out of the pen. We laughed, thinking this was the easy job. Waleed began the chase, and it flew straight towards our faces with its beak of death pointed straight for our eyes. we shrieked like little girls and ran away. The rooster got out of the pen. We then got demoted to the rooster chasers and stuck waleed at the doorway. Needless to say, we proved Tom wrong with our strategic route running, diving and intimidation techniques. After catching the rooster, Waleed decided it was too small for us all for dinner and told us to pick out a goat instead. We could not make this decision and Lindsey thought it was the day she would become a vegetarian (until she tasted his sweet savory meat). Waleed picked out Jamie, and held it down while Sarah tied his legs together. Lindsey cradled Jamie in her arms as Brittany soothed his bleating with stories of her friend from home named Jamie.

We dropped Jamie off at the butcher where the cat mysteriously ate the liver. Apparently thats the best part of the goat to eat, luckily for us we didn't have to try it. We picked up salad and bread, and then headed off to Tanta Waa for the BBQ. We were joined by a french couple, a deaf teenager named Chesney (nuget: egyptian sign language is different than american sign language)  and a sheep farmer, who assured us the entire time that his sheep would taste better. There is no alcohol for sale in siwa, but the locals have become quite creative and make their own. Waleed's night watchman supplied us with his tasty date moonshine.   We were apprehensive to try goat, but we all liked it.

The next day we had an early wakeup call from Waleed and went back to the farm to be his farmhands for the day. There were 3 goats that needed to be milked. Goats must be milked every 2 or 3 days. While milking the goat, you have to remove the alpha male from the area, because the hormones he gives off will make the milk taste bad. The first goat we milked didn't have a name, so Lindsey jumped at the chance to have an egyptian goat named after her. It was tricky at first to learn how to milk them, but we all got the hang of it quickly, looks like we're naturals. The second goat was Pamela because she had udders that dragged on the ground. Waleed was very thankful for our help, because it can be difficult to milk without two other people. One person holds the goat's horn to steady it, the other holds the milk bottle and the third does the milking.

That afternoon, after lunch at Abdu of course, we went on a trip to the desert with Fethi in a 4 x 4. We visited the hot and cold springs, drank tea (again), sped and flew over the massive dunes, and went sandboarding and sand sledding.  We ended the day back at the Bedouin camp and had another BBQ with Waleed Chesney and Fethi. We had an unexpected guest, we aren't sure of his name, but we called him fancy pajama man because every man in Siwa wears blue or white pajamas (actually the traditional outfit which is a long tunic over flowing pants) but fancy pajama man wears shiny reflective black pajamas. After the cookout we went out into the desert. Fancy pajama man showed off his new fancy black shiny car and did tricks all around us for hours. Apparently he fancied Lindsey. Fethi introduced us to a rousing game of "Finie" which has turned into Brittany's favorite game and the bane of Sarah's existence. Basically you make a pile of sand, and say "finie finie finie finie" while spinning your finger in a small circle. then the caller says either "go in" or "go out" and you either poke your finger into the sand or remove it from the sand. Thrilling.

Brittany won so she made everyone run to the top of the dune. Sarah stopped because fancy pajama man was doing his tricks all around her. Then we spent the night on tiny mattresse under the amazing sky. We woke up to a fly infestation, and decided it was time to get the hell out of egypt. To distract ourselves from our misery we played a game called "You know you've been in Egypt too long when..." (please see end of entry)

That afternoon we were honored with an invitation into Fethi's house. Please note, we haven't showered since we had milked the goats because of lack of facilities. We are also still wearing our goat clothes. We took a donkey boy to his house and met his wife and three childen. This was the second Egyptian women we talked to, but she didn't speak English, so we didn't really talk to her. His wife served us delicious COLD mint tea and canteloupe. Unfortunately, Sarah made the mistake of smelling herself and immediately became naseaus from her own stench. For the rest of the visit, she sat in the corner trying to hold back her vomit. Lindsey and Brittany found this quite comical, until they soon caught a wiff of their own odor, and while not as horrific as Sarah, they were in desperate need of a shower as well. We decided to walk home because you can walk faster than the donkey carts. On our way back, we stopped at the only ATM in Siwa for the 12th time that week. It still was not working and we were going to leave in an hour on a bus and still owed everyone in town money for various activities. Fethi did some research for us, and reported back to us that the ATM was not working because the town did not have money to put in it. Brittany had to do a sketchy currency exchange at Abdu for Egyptain pounds. We ate our last meal at Abdu and raced to the bus stop, where everyone in town who we owed money was waiting. We had exactly enough money to pay everyone and get a cab to the airport. Our favorite donkey boy gave us a free ride to the bus, Lindsey gave him a goodbye American dollar and he was thrilled. Everyone in town came to the bus station to say goodbye to us. Right as the bus was about to pull away, donkey boy ran onto the bus and gave us each a bag of mint (funny stories to come later about the bag of mint). This was the first time on our trip that we teared up as we said goodbye to all our new friends and our home for the past few days.

Glums and Glows

Glum: Run in with the local crazy man
Glow: Being Waleed's farm hands

Glum: Smelling herself and almost throwing up in Fethi's home
Glow: Finding out she liked goat

Glum: Making a scene coming in and out of Siwa
Glow: Waleed

You have not seen or talked to a woman in days
The locals have to move out of the sun before you do
You are standing in the middle of the Sahara during the middle of the day and think its not hot
You smell yourself and almost throw up
It doesn't phase you to argue over 20 cents
You hiss back at people
You blatantly ignore everyone on the street that talks to you
You are mistaken for a homeless person
When you forget what a real pillow feels like

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