Nuweiba (Egypt) to Aqaba & Wadi Musa (Jordan) : precious friends lost and found.

Wadi Musa Travel Blog

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The lobby at the Ferry port where I have the good fortune of meeting my friends for Jordan [ photo kindly provided by Cam & Nic ]

[ Owing to the loss of my camera the photos in this entry have been donated with exceptional kindness by Cameron & Nicole.  I thank you both. ]

Time to move on people.  Three and a half weeks in Egypt, my visa speeding towards its conclusion and myself desperately in need of a change of scene, I am well ready to head up the Sinai coast to the small coastal village and dock of Nuweiba a roughly twice daily ferry transit to Aqaba, Jordan can be boarded.  I will though be missing Dahab all the way.  A final BishBishi breakfast of honey and banana pancakes scattered with ruby coloured passion fruit seeds with my pal Maggie and it's hugs and goodbyes and on my way once more.

The blue, blue waters between Egypt & Jordan. [ photo kindly provided by Cam & Nic ]
  Various problems with internet payment connections and computers crashing whilst I've been in Dahab mean I am travelling without yet knowing whether I have an onward flight from Amman to Qatar paid up and booked or not yet.  These things I'm sure work themselves out in the end.

I get a mini-bus taxi from Dahab to Nuweiba with a well travelled and very talkative Australian lad.  Nuweiba is a popular and often necessary jump off point for this very well-trodden route through to or back from Jordan.  Reason being that many people travelling in the area have been to, or are wishing to visit many other countries in the Middle East.  Whilst the north-easterly apex of the Sinai coast brings the borders of Egypt, Israel and Jordan to within a matter of miles of each other, therein lies the problem.

Sunset wake of our ferry to Jordan. [ photo kindly provided by Cam & Nic ]
  Sadly an Israeli visa stamp in your passport will lead to entry refusal at the borders of many of the Middle Eastern states, most stringently Syria and Iran.  This diplomatic cold shoulder is returned in kind by Israel.  This leads many people for a time to take the ferry across the Gulf of Aqaba direct to Jordan,  deferring visa chicanery for another time.  Bear in mind people that you will need US Dollars in your pocket to pay for this ferry ticket.  I wasn't aware of this so have a right faff running from bank to bank trying to sort this out only having been in possession of $30 at the days commence.  The ticket is $60 + a EGP50 'exit tax' or $70 all in.  I gather that the people at the ticket counter should and occasionally will accept Egyptian Pounds for your fare if pressed hard enough but trust me the man behind the counter here is the most surly, miserable, unfriendly, unhelpful and grouchy b**tard to ever have walked the face of this fair earth so don't even bother starting the conversation.  You'd have more fun, and probably more success trying to open a major artery and paper-cutting yourself to death with a dog-eared, centuries old 1 Egyptian Pound bank note!

At the ticket booth I meet'n'greet with a pleasant Australian couple Nicole and Cameron.  They will prove to be the first two of a ring of complete angels and fabulous, fabulous people that I will meet this day and have the plesaure of their company during my time in Jordan.  At the dirty, crowded departures lounge at the ferry port swarms of Egyptians and Jordanians lie about in the dark, degraded seating areas as if awaiting the end of the world... an event that might conceivably prcede the departure of todays ferry.  It is running firmly on Egyptian time.  Departure could be any time, anywhere, anywhen and who cares.  All one can say is it might happen someday inshallah.  Our various tickets and stamps are stamped and Nicole, Cameron and I gravitate to the small, solitary cluster of obviously fellow tavellers in this passenger hanger.  Meet Cecile and Pierre on their return leg of a honeymoon trip to Jordan and Egypt; Kylie an extremely intrepid New Zealander doing a quick shot tour of Egypt, Jordan and Israel before returning to her job in the UK (from where she will cycle back to Australia, sponsored by Land Rover next May!) and Thu (pronounced '2') a pretty, pint-sized Vietnamese-American girl who's been studying arabic in the sandwich year of her American degree course living in Alexandria.  Her language skills will prove to be invaluable time and time again in our brief sojourn around Jordan as she and Kylie will become my firm travel companions for this adventure.

As we get up to leave ("Yes! Finally!") I throw my daysack off my shoulder and unzip the front to grab my camera and capture the ac...wait!... when "OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD!" to my horror I realise the camera is not in there.  No problem.  No panic.  Just think.  Stop.  Think.  Look.  Search and look again.  Again.  AGAIN!  But it's no use.  My gut's told me right from the off that it will never be found here.  And whilst I entertain the possibility momentarily that forced by the bank security guard to leave my bags exposed and vulnerable by the roadside whilst I fetched m'dollars earlier and it coulda been stolen I know... I know that this ain't so.  My taxi driver to Nuweiba earlier having stopped for a 5 minute ciggy break and me stepping out for a moment of scenic photography, I have committed the number one travel possessions gaff, not done an 'idiot check' when leaving the cab and left my camera on the back seat of a taxi that's now several hours and 100 kilometres away!  This flash of realisation actually feels like minor heartbreak.  Certain and lasting heartache is bound to ensue.  It is my firm and trusted friend.  My constant travel companion and painter of every image I've ever posted on TravBuddy.  My third arm.  The window through which I attempt to diffuse small parts of the soul of the world.  First my voice dimmed with the return of my laptop to the UK and now my eyes are gone.  A useless and obsolete underwater camera housing now weighs me down needlessly and mocks me with its emptiness from within my backpack "sob sob!" Keep smiling Steve.  Keep smiling.  Sympathy abounds all around for my predicament.  Keep smiling.  Nobody wants to get to know a miserablist.  Keep smiling.  'Smiiiiile though your heart is breaking...'  Not even a second for the situation to sink in.  To think around the problem, as we are being hoiked and herded into the back of a rust-bucket bus to convey us to the ferry ... 'Smiiile even though your heart is aching....'  It's gone.  It's in Egypt.  I'm gone.  I will soon no longer be in Egypt.  Oh well.  At least I no longer have to set aside funds for the painful but necessary surgical separation procedure that my Panasonic Lumix and I were going to have to undergo upon my return to the UK in 2 years time.  The NHS were never gonna cover me for that one! :)

The gang are very supportive and there is a happy end to this tale of woe.  Borrowing Thu's phone in an act of desperation I phone BishBishi to see if there's any chance that they would ever be able to track down the taxi driver they got for me this morning to see if he has it.  By a miracle they let me know (after I stop blathering on!) that the taxi driver has earlier contacted them and is already en route to return the camera, the memory card with over 500 photos of my time in Egypt and spare batteries to them.  Waves of relief and happiness wash over me.  I may be travelling in the wrong direction but there's a chink of light and a way forward.  And at the time of writing (19/11/08) The Camera Plan is already in full swing.  Kylie my good good friend having returned to Egypt from Israel passing through Dahab has collected my camera from whence it will return with her to the UK and wend its way to my sister there and eventually, some how back into my hands "Yippeeeeeeeee!"  The best thing of all in a way?  After all the minor ways in which the contemporary culture of Egypt and the attitudes of its people towards the tourists that near exclusively prop up their economy (for better or often worse) having often rubbed me the wrong way as a visiting 'guest' or disappointed me in their unhelpfulness I am the beneficiary now of a parting gesture of good will of quite profound scale and import to me.

It is an absolute age -  Egyptian Time - before the ferry finally departs.  The journey is slow but pleasant as we are all getting along great and exchanging tales of our many travels.  I just sit there mostly grinning like an idiot so happy to have been sort of reunited with my Lumix.  Upon arrival in Aqaba it's farewell to Cecile, Pierre, Nicole and Cameron who have their own plans.  Kylie, Thu and I though comandeer a taxi all the way to Wadi Musa, the jump off town for the ancient city of Petra.  Thu impresses us and Faris (the driver) with her arabic skills all the way.   We drive endlessly around Wadi Mussa, late now,  looking for somewhere within our mutual budget range... i.e. bloody cheap and eventually settle after a loooong days travelling at the Orient Gate for the night.  It's been emotional people. I need a rest.  Tomorrow, Petra at dawn!

pms70 says:
It is amazing that after everything you went through with people trying to make a buck out of your visit it turned out there were still some genuinely nice and honest people to be found... I am so glad you had this experience as it probably restored your faith in mankind somewhat. Still hoping to see the missing pictures in your blog someday!
Posted on: Jan 30, 2009
Biedjee says:
That is quite a story mate. You have been very lucky and it must be great to know honest people still exist in this world (and in my experience the farther you move from home the more you meet)
Posted on: Dec 21, 2008
alicegourmet says:
Good to hear that you met some nice people and have your camera sending back to UK. You and Lumix will be united! =)
Posted on: Nov 19, 2008
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The lobby at the Ferry port where …
The lobby at the Ferry port where…
The blue, blue waters between Egyp…
The blue, blue waters between Egy…
Sunset wake of our ferry to Jordan…
Sunset wake of our ferry to Jorda…
Wadi Musa
photo by: Sele