Yesterday was breathtaking.
In the morning, the seven of us arrived in the Western Desert by bus and were picked up by a tour guide with a 4-wheel drive vehicle with two long benches in the back to sit on. We all piled in and rode, facing each other and talking.
First, we went to the Black Desert. It is black because of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago. We climbed a mountain there, feeling very accomplished and parched once we were done.
Then, we traveled on to the Crystal Mountain. It was less impressive, but cool because there were thousands of little crystals all over the ground.
It began getting darker, and we toured the main attraction, the White Desert. The place looks like the face of another planet, with large mushroom shaped landforms and shades of white everywhere.
We drove to a place in the White Desert to make a camp for the night. While the seven of us walked around, taking pictures and enjoying the eerie beauty of the land, the guide made up the camp. When we got back, dinner was cooking in the fire and two walls of a tent had been put up as a windbreak. We ate chicken, Egyptian vegetable stew, rice, and soup. It was a traditional Egyptian meal in the way in taste/preparation/delivery. We sat on the ground on padded mats around a short table. After dinner, we moved the mats around the fire, drinking tea and talking as the desert slowly darkened. We saw four or five little desert foxes out, tiptoeing around our camp. They had such big ears! We also saw a bunch of scarab beetles, which was super cool. They were bigger than I expected, and they left very distinct trails as they moved across the sand.
The fire and heavy blankets kept us from the desert’s nighttime chill. Sherin and Shubhi fell asleep quickly, and Aarane and Paul sat to one side of the fire, talking, but fell asleep relatively early. Victor, Jonas, and I sat up talking for several hours, wishing that the nearly full moon would go away for a bit so we could see the night sky better.
Even with the moon’s light, the stars were beautiful. Eventually, we all lay down to sleep, facing upwards towards the universe. It really was one of the nicest ways to fall asleep that I have ever experienced.
Deserts have such a beautiful quiet, calmness to them, especially during the morning and evening. I woke up with the sun this morning and walked with Jonas to see some of the famous rock formations in the White Desert. When the sun is just coming up over the horizon, the land looks magical.
We left right after breakfast to come back to Cairo. It was a 2.5-hour bus ride into the main town and then (on a larger bus) a 5-hour ride back to Cairo. We kept each other company on the long rides, mostly falling asleep on each other and stealing an ear bud from the person next to us. Traveling with the six of them was so nice. It’s a shame that Jonas will be leaving in a couple of days! It’s a perfect size of group; large enough to be treated as a tour group, but small enough that we all could talk together around a table and enjoy the company.
Today, now that Sherin and I are home, we are moving to Maadi! We’re quite excited. I’ll post photos of both our old and new apartments at some point! We’re hoping that this new one is nice.
Oh yes, and Happy Birthday to my brother Ryan! He’s twelve!