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Desert Safari

Czarina's Travel Diary:

EGYPT, Siwa

           A desert safari is the "in thing" to do in Siwa (an Oasis in Northern Egypt).  The hotels arrange these excursions on a daily basis.  The overnight trip costs $25.  The price includes the transportation, the guide and the food.

          There will be four of us on the trip (Sylvain, Lisa, the guide and myself).  We load our bags into the jeep.  Sylvain asks to check out our food supply.  Right away he senses that something is wrong.  He is very intuitive.  The water supply is inadequate.  There is no bottled water.  There is not enough food for an overnight trip.  Also, the guide cannot speak English very well.

          We go to one of the restaurants to seek the help of a translator.  It seems
as though the guide only wants to go on a day trip and not an overnight trip.  Our agreement with the hotel is for an overnight trip with a different guide.  The people from the hotel come to sort out the problem but they are helpless.

          Apparently, no one is allowed to take tourists overnight in the desert because the government cannot monitor them.  There are still some problems in the Libya border which is not very far away.  The people

          In order to solve our problem, we go to the tourist officer's home.  The issue boils down to money.  It seems that tourists can go to the desert with a permit.  We each pay an extra $2.50 to cover the extra expense.

           At the base of the desert, the guide lets out some air from the tires.  This is supposed to make our ride easier.  Riding on sand dunes is really scary.  We go over one in particular that is very steep.  I feel like I'm on a roller coaster ride but I'm not strapped to my seat and it will not be over in a minute.  After going over the very steep dune, Sylvain decides to ride on top of the jeep.  I worry about him.  My stomach hurts.

           Our first stop is a fresh water spring.  It is not advisable to swim in fresh water lakes due to bilharzia (a parasite that goes through the skin which makes people sick).  We go swimming anyway.  There are large fishes in this lake.  Occassionally they bump into me.

          We meet three other people by the lake.  They need a ride back to their vehicle.  Someone else dropped them off earlier.  They've been waiting for >hours for a ride.  It is such a big risk to be all alone in the desert with nothing.  They must have a lot of trust that someone will come.

          The next stop is a dried out lake which is a fossil sanctuary.  Unfortunately we don't see much fossils.  We're off to a hot water spring where our new friends left their vehicle.  To my surprise there is a store right in front of the spring.  The owner has two dogs that are tied up outside.

           The hot spring is very small.  It resembles a circular hot tub.  There is a slight odor from the algae.  I  gather a big handful of algae which I throw at Sylvain.  I win the big algae fight.

          Next stop is our camp site.  We immediately set up our beds upon arrival.  It is dark out already.  The guide starts dinner.  It is a really tasty vegetable stew.  Sylvain eats the most.  (He gets sick for two days after the desert trip.  He vomits and gets a fever and diarrhea.)

          The sky is full of stars.  Lisa and I gossip before going to sleep.  The men become irritable.  They want to sleep.  The sunrise is so beautiful.  The desert is so peaceful. I'm the first to wake up due to stomach pain.  I look for a good toilet spot.  Unfortunately, there is absolutely no privacy in the desert.  I walk as far as I can hold it.  I can still see the others.  It is a good thing that I have my blanket.  I feel like a cat in a litter box.  I have to dig really deep in the sand.  It doesn't really matter.  In a few hours the wind will start blowing all the sand away.

          We stop by another spring on our way back to the village.  The water from this spring  comes down like a waterfall.  We each take turns getting a back massage by the force of the waterfall.

          In the town, our guide brings us into his home to meet his family.  We only meet his sons.  The women and the little girls were kept in another section of the house. I enjoy this trip so much I give the guide extra money.

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