A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Sunday, May 26, 2013

At the Sinai Border; Dahab; Plans; Thanks; Reaching the Pyramids

At the Sinai border, the East Delta bus I was on came to a halt. We were ordered off,  told to remove our luggage, and to place our bags in a line. Our passports were checked by a plain clothes policeman, and a German shepherd was brought in to sniff the bags. Soldiers in desert camouflage stood around, some of them in bulletproof vests. When the policeman saw my American passport, he shook his head and asked me my name. I gave him the short version. I thought there might be a problem-- I'd heard of an American being refused a ticket for a bus through Sinai recently-- but in the end he handed the passport back, and I was again on the bus to Dahab.
The Sinai border was a military zone, and I don't think I could have walked or hitchhiked through Sinai, even if I'd had logistical support to get through the desert. There have been too many kidnappings at the expense of the Egyptian government, and Westerners are prohibited from traveling the peninsula on their own.

Meanwhile, Dahab is a sleepy Bedouin village turned tourist town on the Gulf of Aqaba. It's famous for it's diving and backpacker atmosphere. Dive shops, restaurants, bungalows and shops line the shore. Across the Gulf of Aqaba, Saudi Arabia's desert mountains are visible some 25 kilometers away. The gulf itself is cerulean blue, and Dahab's backdrop is like Saudi on the other side of the gulf; more tan desert mountains. Tourists here confine themselves to the shoreline; go just one block inland and the town belongs to the Bedouins.
My two hosts here are expats, both living in the Bedouin districts. They've been very hospitable and helpful in showing me around. I've been enjoying the peace and quiet here after six trying weeks in chaotic Cairo.

 On the 28th I'll take a bus to Taba, then enter Israel. I have an invitation from an NGO near Beer Sheva which, among other things, helps Bedouins in Israel's Negev Desert. I'll be living with a Bedouin family in an unofficial village, helping to renovate a children's center. Before getting there I'll visit Kibbutz Samar for a day or two.

I'd like to thank some people in Cairo. First of all Shanna, from New Zealand, who was supposed to host me for two days but hosted me instead for six weeks. Without Shanna I don't know what I would have done. Triona, her friend, was also of great help. They were both incredibly hospitable, they bought me some clothes, and before I left they and another friend, Sarah, made a donation.
Masterpeace also made a donation, and I am very grateful for the help of Raghda, in particular, who also helped to organize my stay with the NGO near Beer Sheva.
A former host of mine, Jose, in Gandia, Spain, and an old friend, Salome, also sent me some money while I was in Cairo.
Without these contributions I couldn't have survived there, and I'd be in trouble now. I am very grateful for this help.

While my journey for peace continues, my walk 'down to Egypt' has come to an end. I walked the final distance from Tahrir Square to the pyramids a week ago. I'd always imagined my arrival at the Giza pyramids would be an emotional moment. Instead, still outside the gates, I had a smoke, then walked back the other way.

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