Some journeys are not just about arriving, but actually getting there. My daring road trip from Egypt to Israel remains one of my most memorable adventures yet.
When hubby and I asked around for the address of the Israeli consulate in Cairo, our question was pretty much met with a stoic silence due to the Arab – Israeli conflict. A google map search later, we finally found the Israeli flag fluttering outside a heavily guarded building. After several rounds of intricately frisking us and the mid levels telling us that getting a visa to Israel from Egypt was almost impossible, the kind Consul General finally stamped our passports.
We headed out from Cairo on an overnight bus journey across the Sahara desert in a convoy, as the area was supposed to be quite unsafe. It started off as a pretty journey with miles of twinkling stars pinning the clear night sky. I almost felt like a bedouin living in the era of the three wise men who went to greet baby Christ with frankincense and myrrh and were guided by the stars.
My fantasy world received a sudden jolt when our bus came to an abrupt halt a few hours later. I asked my co passengers and the driver what the problem was, but no one spoke English.
The notoriously hot Saharan sands of the day time, was bone chillingly cold now. While trying to pull out a shawl from my bag, a photo postcard of Shah Rukh Khan (that I used to negotiate prices with the Bollywood obsessed Egyptian shopkeepers) fell down from my bag. I as just about to pick it up, when a girl dressed in a hijab walked up to me and in very broken English asked me if it was indeed a photo of King Khan. She told me she was from Damascus in Syria and was a great fan of his. I looked at her in complete bewilderment. Here I was stranded in the middle of the night in probably the most desolate stretch of the world and I meet a die hard SRK fan who wants to discuss Bollywood! Beat that!
My Syrian friend and I
I told her she could have the postcard if she just told me why on earth was the bus not moving. Quickly grabbing her booty, she told me to just go off to sleep because the bus would not move till morning as the roads ahead were damaged due to heavy rains the day before. She then rushed to her family and they started gushing over SRK’s photo and gave me a 70mm smile.
The rain water logged Saharan sands
A view of the landscape outside from our dusty window
After managing 40 winks, I woke up early morning to the most beautiful sunrise ever. The horizon was splashed with brilliant shades of pink, red and orange. The feeling was overwhelming and humbling and if God does exist, that is the closest to Him I ever felt. Our bus finally started moving mid morning and we crossed the Taba border into Israel, after an extraordinary and epic overland journey.
First view of Israel