Day 065 Egypt : Nuweiba - St Katherine's Monastery

Day 065 Egypt

Trip Distance 130 km (81 m) Total Distance 8381 km (5209 m)
Diesel Costs EP1.10 (£0.11!!)    
Entrance Fee EP35 (EP17 each)    
Stopover
St Katherine's Monastery
Fox Camping N28.56358 E33.95860 EP40 including electricity

Despite parking Sully in the corner furtherest away from where we were told the sun would rise, local knowledge sucked, and we were in the direct rays of the sun.  So at 5:30am we were up again as the sun roasted us to a turn inside the roof tent.  We de-camped to the umbrella-ed area on the beach, drank coffee, watched the fishermen hauling their catches in on hand lines and dozed in the cool sea-breeze - in that sort of order.

After about 2 hours, we felt far more refreshed and packed up to start our journey to St Katherine's Monastery.  We started to pass through the Police Checkpoints which are to become a way of life in Egypt.  But they are painless and quick and we've found the best way to cope with them is to take off our sunglasses, smile and say hello & goodbye in Arabic, they welcome you, sometimes have a quick joke about football, a cursory glance at passports and you're on your way. 

We arrived at St Katherine's Protectorate in the middle of the desert, paid our entrance fee and thought we'd pop into the monastery area so that we knew where to come the next day (the monastery is only open to 12noon we had been told).  We had to pass through a checkpoint just before the monastery.  There we came across our first hit for a free "gift".  A bloke in plain clothes stopped us at the checkpoint and asked to see passports.  As always, he came to the passenger side and I handed over the documents for him to look at.  When he had finished he handed back the passports and indicated that he wanted a pen (clearly he didn't need it as he had one in his top pocket!), so I fiend ignorance and kept on saying "sorry, no Arabic, I don't understand".  He said "me policeman, pen!".  So what, dude, you may be a policeman but you're still asking for a free pen!  In frustration he pointed at the pen hanging from the cargo net in front of me (clearly this was the one he wanted) and said "pen" very clearly.  I pointed at the pen in his pocket, "you have one."  That wasn't to his liking so with a a sulky click of his fingers, we were on our way our pen still bravely hanging from the net.

From there we drove directly to Fox Camping.  Ebrahim manages the place there and we sat and drank spearmint tea in the cool of a Bedouin tent with him whilst we waited for the hottest part of the day to pass. Now again, we need to describe "the hottest part of the day" in St Katherine's (as always in comparison to Aqaba).  It's a temperate 30degC with a cool afternoon breeze gently drifting through the camp.  BLISS!  a comfortable temperature at last!  I will never moan about being hot again (well, not at least until Sudan where I think we are likely to perish from the heat we hear!!!).  We unloaded Sully, prepared a goat stew (our last from the stock we bought in Irbid, sob!) and flavoured it with wild desert rosemary that the Bedouins are growing in an effort to stop it from disappearing altogether from the desert flora.  A fitting end to our goat, a marriage made in heaven and a wonderful meal to boot. sigh, life is good.

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All set up in the desert at Fox Camp as the shadows are stretched by the setting sun.