The desert around the Red Sea is what you might call "camel-infested." This roadsign is a common sight on the highway between Eilat and Be'er Sheva.
I spent a long weekend on the Sinai peninsula in Egypt with Olivia, a student from my dorm, and Tau, a postdoc from her lab. I'll get around to all the fiddly details in good time, but at the moment I'm pretty busy catching up on this and that. So I'll summarize, and fill in the gaps later.
Last Thursday night was spent on the midnight bus to Eilat, about a five hour trip. Still shorter than the bus ride from Minneapolis to Chicago. Eilat is the city at the very southern tip of Israel, occupying a narrow chunk of coastline at the northern point of the Gulf of Aqaba. Jordan is five kilometers to the east; Egypt is about as far west. We arrived circa 5 am, napped on the beach until we could find breakfast, and took off for the Egyptian border.
The border crossing was crowded but uneventful, and once across we walked into the town of Taba to catch a bus to Nuweiba. Supposedly there's a big port there somewhere, but from where we were, it appears to be little more than a long row of beach hotels, resorts, camps, and diving clubs. Most of which aren't open, or even finished. Quiet place, on the whole. We stayed in a cute little cluster of cabins and huts called Camp Habiba.
Lounging around at Habiba in the lull between sunset and dinner. 2005:04:25 19:26:24
Besides the usual sort of beach stuff, we got out into the desert twice. One trip was a short hike -- more like a scramble, in places -- through the so-called Colored Canyon, a twisting wind-eroded wadi that cuts through the low-lying sandstone strata. The other was a more serious expedition, a climb up Mount Sinai by moonlight to watch the sunrise from the top, after which we descended to the Santa Katerina monastary. Finally, my boots look like they've seen some action.
Ursa Major setting over the flank of Mount Sinai, from about halfway up the mountain. The bright light on the mountainside is a Bedouin teahouse and campsite for the camels. 2005:04:25 05:36:37
Back to the Taba crossing Tuesday morning, I caught an early afternoon bus to Tel Aviv from Eilat. Olivia and Tau stayed on to do some more snorkelling, but I have work to do, since I'm only here for a couple of days before heading out again.