Trying to catch up….Suez Canal and Aquaba

Day 14, Thursday, May 3

It’s 1:30 pm. I’m in my room, lying on the bed, trying to get comfortable after eating a gourmet lunch that included some kind of banana carmel cakie thing that must have been 800 calories all by itself. I’m working out every morning, two miles fast walk, followed by weights, and I try to do the same in the afternoon, but I think the calories going in are more than what’s being burned. It’s hard to pass up ice cream, cakes and pies, flans, and every other decadant thing you can imagine, available 24 hours a day.

Right now we’re forty-six miles off the coast of Libya, too far to see the coastline with the naked eye. The weather is clear but a little overcast. Out in the sun, it’s warm, but it’s chilly if you sit or walk in the shade. I’ve yet to use any of the swimming pools. In fact, I haven’t even had a drink since I came on board. My cold has been the big factor holding me back, but I’m doing a lot better, so that may change tonight.

At lunch they announced that one of the tours set for tomorrow, one that went to Tahir Square in Cairo, has been cancelled because of the riots and killings that happened yesterday. Fortunately for me, my tour to Cairo, the Nile and the pyramids is still on. I’m guessing we don’t go near Tahir Square. But I’m sure security has been increased, so I’ll try to get photo’s of our escorts. I’m visualizing a couple of beat up Opal Sedans, with a couple of overweight Egyptians with one pants leg caught up in the top of a boot, carrying old military rifles. 🙂  We’ll see what tomorrow brings. This afternoon, I plan to continue reading a novel that I’ve almost finished, and I’m going to try and proof another few chapters of my own novel for the publisher, and interspersed between these activities, I’ll try to get another workout in at the Spa as well as a delicious nap. Ah, what a luxury it is to just eat, read and sleep all day and night. One could get hooked on this very easily. I’ll be up and online by 4 am to catch the Kings home game at Staples on the satalite feed of the internet. Tomorrow will be a very long day.

Day 15  Friday May 4

Up at 3:30 am. Managed to get a chance to speak to my grandson on the facetime app. Then I got connected with Julie and Mike and they broadcast the TV game for me and a few of my new friends while we sat in the bar. Kings up 3 games to 0. It’s times like these when I really wish I was home. Enjoy the tickets, my beloved children. Daddy will be home for the finals. 🙂

Shoveled down a quick breakfast, then joined my bus group at 7:15 am. About thirty busses, all new, clean, with bathrooms were waiting outside. I was on bus 1. An armed security guard was on each bus. They were from the Tourist Police. The ride to Cairo was 2.5 hours. We traveled through what used to be desert but is now a lot of farmland. When we arrived at Cairo, I was shocked by the amount of garbage…. it was everywhere. It’s all politics, but after the Arab Spring revolution, corruption set in, contracts were taken from the groups who did the work, and given to an outfit that didn’t perform. Now, no one picks up the trash. When I say it’s everywhere, it is. Absolutely sickening. I took some photos. The mess unbelievable! The high rise buildings are old and crumbling. Most are not finished for tax reasons. Granted, we had to stay away from the downtown to avoid the violence, but I suspect a lot of the city is like what we saw. The air pollution is awful. An inversion layer that makes you choke.

We arrived at the Giza plateau, where the two giant pyramids are. Getting off the bus we were swarmed by hawkers. “One dollar, one dollar.” The give you stuff, then ask for a donation. They follow you around, trying to make conversation. It really is annoying. I took a lot of photo’s. In person, they are so much more spectacular than film or photos could ever depict. Next, we drove down the hill aways to the Sphinx. Took photos and wandered around in some Tombs that were 4500 years old. The site is above the City of Cairo, and it’s really a site to behold.

 

 

We drove to a country club where we got into Toyota land cruisers for four wheelin’ in the desert. We did some serious dune sliding. It was fun. Then we rode camels for about forty five minutes. That was fun. Lots of photo’s. Then lunch at the country club. Some really good food.

We then went to Sakkare, Egypts ancient cemetery, and this was followed by the Step Pyramid. It was humid, hot, dusty… and my cough has returned. Can’t seem to shake my cold. We were forced to stop at the obligatory souvenir shop. Ugh! Then the long bus ride back to Alexandria.

We got to the ship at about 9 pm. Dinner was long over, so I went to Johnny Rockets and had a cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake. glad I did. I then called it a night and tried to get some sleep before the Alexandria City Tour in the early morning.

Day 16 Saturday  May 5

Ate a very quick breakfast and met the group at 7:15. We visited a fort that’s built where the old lighthouse (one of the seven wonders of the world) used to be. The lighthouse came down in a major earthquake. Most of the stones are still in the sea and you can take a diving tour to see them. We then went to a mosque, the biggest and most famous in Alexandria.

Once again, it’s fair to note that trash is everywhere in Alexandria, too, particularly in the poorer neighborhoods. The people try to burn it in the street, but all that does is contribute the the horrible air quality. The buildings along the seashore are all high rises that are in terrible condition. Packed together, dense, dark, crumbly, unfinished…. that’s the best way to describe the sea shore. Traffic is a nightmare everywhere in Egypt. Some of the highways have no lane lines, so people dart in and out and squeeze between trucks. Some cars drive on the wrong side of the road. Truckers stop in the fast lane and get out and have tea at makeshift roadside stands that are built right in the lanes of the road. It’s absolutely crazy. In the city, it’s worse. They drive with their horns, stop for nothing, and park whereever. The bus driver’s skill is unparalleled. I can’t believe he could squeeze between cars to get down the road the way he did, over and over. We visited a catacombs, and finally got to the library of Alexandria.

The new library is considered one of the best and most beautiful in the world, and it lived up to it’s billing. I took a lot of photo’s, but it really is spectacular. I also had an opportunity to see a lot of the young moslem women because the University of Alexandria is across the street from the library. They wear the traditional black robe and scarf, but most of them accent the outfit with colorful tops on top of the robe. Many wear pants. It seems to me that it’s an act of rebellion or individuality creeping out in this society. You’d never see this in Afganistan or Iraq. The colors are bright, and very fashionable. I took photo’s, but it was really surprising to see.

Stopped at another souvenir shop, then finally back to the ship. We sail at 2:20 pm, headed for the Suez Canal, which we will enter sometime after midnight. I’m going to catch up on my sleep this afternoon, if possible.

Tried to go out by the pool, but the wind picked up and it was too chilly. Temps will be much hotter in the Suez, so I’ll wait for tomorrow to take a swim.

Had dinner with my group tonight, two deserts….again! Yikes! Fell asleep about 9pm.

Day 17 Sunday May 6

We entered the Suez a little after 1 am. I woke up from the thrusters as we were getting into position in the Mediterranean. Slept until 5:30, then got up to take some photos as we were gliding through the canal. I imagined there would be locks, but there aren’t. It’s one straight shot, about twelve hours of gliding along at 8.9 nautical miles per hour. It’s really weird to see this floating city so close to land. We passed Port Said and I took photos of a little city we passed named Shubra El Kehema.

Today was a full day of sailing, so I used it to workout and to work on proofing my novel, the one that’s due at the publisher’s on July 1. Got a hundred pages completed, so I rewarded myself again at dinner with another two deserts. It was a formal dinner night, and I can still button my pants without cutting into the skin, so I guess I’m not overdoing it, but this is really getting out of control. I think I’m holding myself in check, but it’s awfully easy to overdue it.

Tonight at 9 pm Egyptian time, 12 noon LA time, the Kings play game 4 with the St. Louis Blues. I’ve been looking forward to this for days. At just before nine, I called Bryan, but the signal here is sporadic, and we had trouble hooking up for a video feed of the game. We eventually gave up and I listened to the game. I could only get the St. Louis broadcasters feed, so I had to listen to them whine the entire game because their team was getting beaten. The last two minutes of the game were electric. You could barely hear the broadcasters because of the screaming cheers of the LA crowd. I read later that our goalie Jon Quick said it gave him goosebumps. It was fantastic. I’m glad you enjoyed my tickets, Jeremy. The Kings have only made it to the finals once in over forty years, and the way they’re playing now, it just might happen again. What a treat. I may actually be home in time to catch part of Round Three.

I went to bed around midnight. Too wound up about the game.

Day 18, Tuesday, May 7

I had a late breakfast. We docked in Aquaba, Jordan about 8 am. Hundreds of folks were going to Petra, so by the time I got in for breakfast, the crowd was gone. I took a leisurely walking tour of the city of Aquaba. The cruise line provided shuttle busses into the center of town, five minutes away. Once there, I began walking through the various sections of the part of town that caters to the locals. The shops were tiny, the crowd was heavily Muslim, and the goods being sold were displayed in heaps both in and outside the store. It’s what you’d see in downtown LA in the garment market. The people who live here are friendly and I felt completely safe wandering around on my own. But it was really hot, and there was a desert wind that kept blowing dust (or sand) in my face. It’s everywhere, and you can’t escape it.

The Isralie city of Elat is just across the harbor. Hard to believe I was there almost two weeks ago. It seems like yesterday. The trip is going fast.

I got back to the ship at noon, ate at Johnny Rockets, took a nap, then worked out in the almost empty gym. After that, I hit the swimming pool. It was great, especially in this never ending desert heat. I’ve got lots of pictures, some quite spectacular. There’s one I took of the full moon out at sea that’s really awesome.

I spent the afternoon reading. We’ll be sailing later for Safaga, Egypt, and tomorrow we go for the long bus ride to the Nile and the Valley of the Kings. I hope it cools off a bit.

More later………….

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