17.11.2011 - 17.11.2011 22 °C
We got going at a much more leisurely time this morning (as compared to our 4am start yesterday) with us driving through the remainder of the Sinai desert to our beach camp on the Gulf of Aqaba near Nuweiba. The drive over to the beach camp was really spectacular.. lots of huge sandstone/ granite cliffs (pretty much devoid of plant life), blue sky, occasional clouds… Really, really pretty colour contrasts! The interesting thing about the drive is the fact that we had to enter some of the disputed lands of Sinai that are currently managed by the UN (not the Egyptian forces).. Apparently at the end of the Israeli conflict (late 60s) it was agreed that the land would secede to Egypt but that a buffer zone (managed by the UN) would be put in place to keep the two forces apart! Therefore, western tax payers have been paying for over 40 yrs to keep troops posted in this part of the world!!! A bit disappointing I must say!
Regardless, the drive was very beautiful but uneventful and we arrived at our beach camp just before lunch! It was an interesting drive into the beach camp.. the last 15mins or so we were driving alongside the Gulf and discovered all of these empty (and largely derelict) beach camps lining the road. Another symbol of the lack of tourists to this part of the world! After arriving at our camp we discovered that of the 35 or so huts only half of them were being used…. We were fortunate to be sharing the camp with another intrepid group so at least it wasn’t just us!!!
Upon arrival we checked out our accom and then decided to build some sandcastles on the beach… Our sand castle plan actually ended up being a Sphinx building plan. Chief architect was designated as Sam our tour leader (he’s seen the Sphinx a hell of a lot more times than we have!), our builders were Lee, Tom and yours truly with our pharoh being Jess! Eventually we had almost the whole group in checking out what we were doing and I’m happy to report that our Sphinx had the right shape and proportions… although, the head (which I was sculpting) looked nothing like the real Sphinx!! I guess you can’t win everyone (although we certainly tried!!)
Our eventual effort saw us bury our pharoh up to her head in front of the Sphinx’s head and between its front paws. We then all posed for our photos with our masterpiece before retiring back to the mess for some lunch! (Mushroom pizza for me) We were much more sedate after lunch with most of us reading or resting before we challenged the other Intrepid group to a rousing game of volleyball… All in all we had a pretty knock out team with us winning convincingly at 2 games to 1! Again yours truly discovered some volleyball talents that she didn’t realise she possessed… somehow my serves not only went in but seemed to score! I didn’t add much else to the team though (at one point I cowered down with my hands covering my head just waiting for a high ball to come and whack me on the head!!!—not quite the right technique for volleyball.. )
As the sun set over the mountains behind us we all adjourned for a candlelit dinner out on the sand. (The candle holders were interesting… old PET bottles that have been cut in half with sand placed in the bottom and a candle sticking out of the sand!!.. we also got candles on our plate of food which was a candle stuck into a cucumber that was all wrapped up with a ring of red onion… impressive!) My fried shrimp and chips were a huge improvement on lunch so all in all a great ending to a great day! We all turned in not long after dinner with another whole day to be spent at the beach camp relaxing!