after a busy and simultaneously quiet few days in cairo, we took an overnight bus to siwa.
or, we took what we thought was an overnight bus to siwa, but ended up being a run-out-of-gas-in-the-middle-of-the-desert-at-2-am bus to marsa matroh. my impression of marsa matroh? empty and out of gas. or, as we say here in Egypt, “mafiish gaz.”
our bus driver found a solution: drop all of us on his bus off at another bus which would take us all the way to siwa. how the second bus magically had gas while ours did not is a mystery to me. the jury is still out on whether or not the bus was actually out of gas and unable to find more or if the driver didn’t want to go all the way to siwa.
after a long, very, very cold bus ride on the floor of the second bus (there were no seats available. mafiish seats.) where we slept sitting up trying not to freeze to death (dudes. the desert is cold in winter), we made it to the siwa bus stand, where we met a very, very happy ismail, jon’s best friend from when he lived in Egypt. ismail took us to the mud house we’ll be staying in for the week we’re here where we proceeded to pile blankets over top of our ice-cubed selves and sleep off the bus ride.
siwa itself is wonderful. it is beautiful- surprisingly so- and much more quiet than cairo. and there are no shebeb here- you know, the annoying young bucks with nothing better to do than to catcall women and drive their motorcycles too fast through crowded city streets. just lots of adorable, small children who love to call out, ‘hello! hello! hello!’ as you walk by. not many women around, but i’ll post on that and how i was lucky enough to meet some very special ladies here in siwa later.
the town is an oasis in the middle of the desert. literally. there are sand dunes surrounding half of the oasis-city and desert mountains surrounding the other half. here there are 3 large lakes, a ton of springs and lots of palm trees. and j’s friend ismail loves living here. it’s always fun to be in a place with someone who loves it so much- it makes it more interesting, for sure, and his enthusiasm for the place wears off on us. (want to come to siwa? talk to ismail. by the way, the correct answer to that question would be a resounding yes.)
we’ve been to cleopatra’s spring, to the temple of the oracle, to some breathtakingly beautiful lakes and desert mountains with tombs thousands of years old hewn in the sides of them. we’ve been to ismail’s family’s date palm and olive garden. we’ve chased the sunset in the great sand sea, climbed a mountain to watch it set on the edge of town, watched it go down over the siwa lake from an island in the middle of that same lake. tomorrow, we’re going sandboarding in the sahara. as our first honeymoon was rather short due to lack of vacation and jobs, we’ve taken to calling this trip ‘second honeymoon’ and folks, second honeymoon FTW.