And with that, we bid adieu.. the desert and I
Bahariya Travel Blog› entry 12 of 20 › view all entries
April 13th, 2010 – by: anupa_rk
I have realized that I have a fascination for the sun, you know. I am unusually mesmerized by the sight of the sun setting or rising. It just captivates me so completely.. Maybe thatâ€™s why I chose the symbol of a sun as a tattoo on my arm! (I am realizing this 4 years after I got the tattoo done.
So I sat there.. on the hill, looking at the sun rise up in the sky, until it got too bright to stare at!
I made my way back to the camp site where Mahmoud was getting breakfast ready. After a quick bite of fuul and ayish (I donâ€™t know how it is spelt!), we got packing. It was amazing how within minutes, the site looked almost completely pristine! Except for some soot from the fire, there was no sign of it ever having been used for camping!
While driving me to the desert the previous day, Mahmoud was telling me about some disturbing news regarding tourism in the desert. Bahariya was made famous in the tourist circles by these Bedouin guides who have lived there all their lives and make their living from the deserts.
So there was the usual clash between the corporates and the individual guides, and the corporates won out. As a result of this, all the individual guides were banned from taking any tourists into the desert. So yes, what I did was sort of illegal! But hey, how was I to know? I didnâ€™t get the memo! Anyways, so now what the local people have decided to do is to form a company of their own. Just to have a legal front from which to work.
But I donâ€™t know, really. I have been to the camp sites in the US and I have seen how easy they try and make it for tourists to make their way around without having to have guides. So maybe thatâ€™s the intention here too. To milk the desert by making it accessible to all and sundry.. A desert nicely marked out so tourists can drive through it themselves.. at their own pace.. without having to hire a guide. Oh and while we are at that, let me tell you, local or corporate, these guides donâ€™t come cheap.
Anyways, so once the camp site was packed up, we started the drive back to the town of Bawiti from where I was to catch the bus to Cairo. It was a quiet drive.. I was taking in the sounds and sights of the barren desert landâ€¦ when suddenly, out of nowhere â€“ green!!! Lush green!!
One moment it all brown and with nothing but sand for as far as the eye could see. And the next, I could see trees! Hundreds of them! One word leapt to mine â€“ Oasis!
Yup, that was exactly what it was.. An Oasis.. Complete with a lake and a hot water spring!
After a short stop there to freshen up, we completed the journey back to Bawiti. I was taken back to Mahmoudâ€™s house to freshen up and then packed off to the bus station.
It was a good trip, but as always, money spoils relationships and experiences! Mahmoud had quoted the price of 400 L.E a day for this trip. (It is cheaper per person when there is a group.. but you know, story of my life.. solo travel.. tends to get more expensive that I would like it to be).
So, having arrived the previous day after noon, and leaving by the bus at 10, I figured I owe Mahmoud one dayâ€™s quoted price. Seems logical doesnâ€™t it? Apparently not. I believe, spending a night in the desert makes it two days. No matter how late I start or how early I head out. It struck me as odd and highly unfair. But I didnâ€™t seem to be getting anywhere with the argument, and so I ended up giving in.
That was the only sore point in the experience.
But then, well, money comes money goes.. if not here, somewhere else. Yes, this is how I console myself! :D
My trip is almost at an end now. Iâ€™ve been in Egypt for 12 days now. And surprisingly, it just doesnâ€™t feel that long. It actually feels like I have a lot of unfinished business here.
So now, with just a few days left on my Egyptian experience, I feel a sense of loss at having to leave.. Its been a jam packed trip.. Iâ€™ve barely had a few hours of doing nothing. But I havenâ€™t had enough. Not by a long shot.
I know I wonâ€™t come back again. And that kinda makes it worse.
For all its quirks and inconveniences, I have come to enjoy this place. And the people. And I only wish I could experience its charm for a little bit longer.
Well, thereâ€™s no time to brood and mull over what is not to be. I have to get to bed for another early morning trip awaits me. Iâ€™m off to Sharm El Sheikh tomorrow morning to spend the weekend with the Red Sea!!
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