March 25, 2002
When our jeep arrived at a bedouin camel shack along a main road near Khundra Oasis, we couldn't help but notice the filthy, smelly camels lying in sand littered with camel feces everywhere. A small boy ran over to a camel, picked up a blanket laying in the littered sand, and threw it over the camel while David looked on in utter disdain.
Our guide left us with these bedouins, and drove on to our campsite in the oasis. Mounting the camels was awkward and jerky. Camels straighten their hind legs first when they stand, and you feel like you're going to slide right off. We were instructed to cross our legs, Indian style, to prevent our legs from tiring, as there are no stirrups. What a lofty view! The camels moved in a slow, hypnotic manner on the silky sand. It was comfortable and relaxing. More enjoyable than riding the horses at the Giza pyramids. Funny how another young boy "guided" me by pulling the camel by his leash...hmmm, flashback....but this time David was also being led by a bedouin on foot.
Ahead of us sand stretched for miles with rocky mountains in the distance. We followed a path marked with jeep tracks that led to the "Rock of Inscriptions." Knowing we could have driven made me appreciate being on camel even more. Our bedouin guide pointed out the inscriptions left by Nabeteans back in 500 BC, and Greek words carved in the 6th century by monks who described St. Catherine's monastery. There were Coptic crosses along side Greek symbols. Pictures of palm trees and camels pointed the way to the oasis where we were headed. Did the Children of Israel pass through here when they wandered these desert lands for forty years during the Exodus? Very likely.
At one point, we passed through a steep section where we had to dismount our camels, so they could clumsily clamor down the rocky hill without listening to panicky riders voice our concern. I appreciated the bedouin's insight as the camels lost their footing several times, sliding and shakily skidding on the slanted narrow rock. Emerging from the rocky passage, we saw sandstone mountains tinted red and yellow.
Back on level ground, we rode another forty minutes until we came to a lush, green oasis huddled against a mountain. The profusion of palm trees, donkeys and camels was strikingly green in the desert landscape. A family of bedouins lived here, in an assortment of thatched roof huts and white blocked structures. A bedouin boy pulled on their leashes until the unwilling camels collapsed to the ground, and we clumsily got off the spitting creatures. The boy put a bag over each of the camel's heads, and there they sat in the sand all night without moving.
From journal Honeymoon in Sinai Desert, Egypt