Monday, July 4, 2016

DAY 15 - Red Skies and Sad Goodbyes

How could the skies be so beautiful one day and dusty the next? I could barely make out the Negev mountains. We were torn. We had hoped to swim and snorkel. It was our last day and we felt we needed to do SOMETHING. I tried to check my email at the park, but the wind was persistent and the Internet choppy. I was desperate. We were due in Egypt and I had no idea where we would stay.

I told Pamela we needed to walk down to the sea and find a restaurant or Internet cafe where I could pay and surf the web. We needed to make hotel reservations as soon as possible.

Darlene met us along the way and suggested we eat breakfast together. The waiter reassured me there was free Internet available on the premise, but my computer wasn't connecting. The waiter tried and couldn't connect as well. I gave up and decided to focus on my breakfast of eggs, fresh cheese, chopped veggetables, toast, juice, and latte.

Game machine outside the restaurant. One thing I had noticed while in the Middle East was that it seemed everyone smoked. An Egyptian explained to me that smoking was their culture. While walking through the Khan el Khalili market in Cairo, I remember pausing at a large booth of firecrackers. I was surprised there were fireworks for sale. Even more surprised, everyone leaning on the fireworks was smoking!
Pamela and I were disappointed we wouldn't be snorkeling, but we agreed it was too windy to head for the beach. We headed back to the hostel so that I could do some last minute laundry, and pack. I told Darlene that I wanted to walk her to the bus station when it was time for her to go. She was headed back towards Jerusalem later that afternoon and I wanted to see her off and say goodbye.
It seemed a lot of people were leaving that day. Two guys from Germany asked if I'd take their picture together with their backpacks. I noticed their bedrolls and asked them where they were headed. They were going to walk the Israel National Trail, like our hostel owner John, and Judy Pex had done and had written a book. The trail is 580 miles long and can take up to 70 days. I congratulated the Germans and wished them well. As I type this, it just dawned on me - they must STILL be on the trail. Wow!

Saying goodbye to another amazing staff member (pictured above) who had shared his AMAZING testimony with us the night before!
We walked Darlene to the bus station and I insisted on waiting till her bus arrived. We hugged and wished each other well. She would spend another few weeks in Israel, then head for England to visit, before returning to Dallas.
Pamela and I walked to the piers by the promenade. We found a coffee house with Internet. Finally out of the wind and hooked to the Internet. But no plug-ins. Battery was low. I quickly logged onto Orbitz and scanned the hotels in Egypt and looked at reviews. Arriving on Sunday, we'd be leaving Tuesday at 4am. Technically, we only needed to sleep for 1 night, but I needed to pay for a 2nd night as we wouldn't be heading to the airport until Monday night.
My battery blinked a warning. I quickly entered my credit card information and paid for two nights at the Garden Palace in Cairo -- right near the Nile, TV, Internet in our room, a restaurant. We were excited. Our FIRST "hotel" while on this trip! I couldn't wait to flip channels and have our own bathroom. What indulgence!
After double checking my email to make sure the transaction was approved, we walked through the promenade. It was already dark. We bought some jewelry, popcorn, and took a last look at the Red Sea. We had mixed emotions about saying goodbye. We would miss Israel. But we also missed our home, and family, and every dog we saw in Israel tore at our hearts.
Back at the hostel, we double checked our packs, and visited in the lounge. Our South African friends would be leaving in the morning too, headed for Masada.
Plugging my laptop to charge we prepared for bed. Our only roommates were the ladies from Finland. That night, I thought about the long day we faced ahead. We would be crossing the Sinai for the second time.
As I type this, I'm reminded of the news report today that Israel is warning all citizens to avoid the Sinai and surrounding border towns by the Red Sea. For some reason they fear imminent kidnappings and smugglings of Israeli citizens into Gaza. Not to mention, this week, it was announced that every household in Israel would be receiving a gas mask!
I didn't fear too much while on the trip, but I'm so thankful I didn't have this report on my mind while crossing the border. Our re-entry into Egypt would be stressful enough! And sometimes I'm glad I can't see into the future. If I knew what was ahead of me in the morning, I probably wouldn't have slept!


cpa momma said...

Helen, sad to see your trip is ending. You have the best travel blog out there. You know how to balance the pictures with the narrative so it is such interesting reading. You have to go on another homeschooling trip next year. How about Europe? I want another chapter! christi from CT

Patty said...

That vending machine was a shocker! Who would have thought cigarettes were so easy to get; I bet the kids love those machines!

Don't keep us hanging too long with the next part of the trip!