100 Days in Egypt, Fayoum 3/5

It’s been a bit more than 100 days since I left France, the right moment to tell you a little more about the places I visited here. So I decided to write here a small serie of articles about my excursions. Subscribe here, if you want to be warned when a new article in the series is published. And here, if you want to read the articles from the beginning.

Fayoum, embraced by the sky

First little daytrip between friends : a short but very intense journey. We left with my friends from Ismailia and Cairo, early in the morning by car, in the direction of Fayoum. First destination, the village of Tunis, specialized in pottery. We stopped in a nice hotel with a beautiful furnished terrace, surrounded by a garden full of fruit trees and flowers. We had our relaxing breakfast around 11am-12pm then went around the village which is decorated with murals from all sides and visited one of the pottery schools. Luckily, a 12-13 years old child worked at school (it was Friday, the weekend, so it was not expected) and gave us full info about the manufacturing technique, the provenance of clay etc. I would have stayed there longer, but my Egyptian friends had a slighty quicker pace than me. That’s because, with our busy schedule, we had to proceed to the next place in order to do everything we planned before nightfall, that is to say 5 pm…

On the way to Wadi Rum National Park, at the entrance of the park, of course I payed more than my friends but I was lucky to pass. Nastasya, an instagrammer told me later that the area was closed to the public at this time, security issue. And it’s true that I only saw Egyptian tourists on the spot. This is the advantage of knowing local buddies, being able to go wherever Egyptians go. 

Wadi Rum is a site where you can see a waterfall – I always love waterfalls even if they are small and dozens of Egyptians wade in! – and a lake on which one can sail monayant the renting of a boat and its rower. All in the middle of the desert, surrounded by sand. Here also the colors are beautiful. I cannot explain why but the sky gives a feeling of immeasurable space. It’s beautiful and it’s giant. The reflection of the sky in the water is part of it for sure. After a 30 min boat tour and a lot of selfie, we put foot back on the ground. It is 3pm, will be night in 2 hours and the lake access is not a road but a track in the sand. Yet, we don’t have a 4×4, just Khaled’s car, and ruining it is not an option. 

What should we do? My friends want to sandboard, and I want to go see the Magic Lake and the Whale Museum. Well the Museum of the whale closes at 2pm I think, it’s too late. And to go to the Magic Lake, you need an SUV. I insist a little, slipping in the sand is nice, but I do not think I would come back here and if we can see the whole site I would like it better. As usual, the difficulty for me is that my friends discuss the different options in Arabic . It’s easier for them. But I don’t understand a word of it. They’re chatting with a local guy. The guy’s leaving. Nothing. So? Ah, it’s okay we rent a 4×4 to go to the Magic Lake and enjoy Sandboard. For a super good price. Good i asked then. Would it be okay ? Won’t it be to late to come back ? Noooo, it’s going to be alright. Okay, okay. 

Best part of the trip. We leave for the Magic Lake in 4×4, the super driver, climbs the dunes like crazy and goes down at full speed, the girls howl, not me, it’s like the Big Eight. We love it. Then we climb up, overlooking the lake of Wadi Rum from the hills. It’s breathtaking. This is the reason why I went away on a world tour, to be this amazed by nature. We continue to the Magic Lake and there, also, the landscapes are beautiful. The driver leaves us at the top of a dune that goes down to the small lake, for a little hour. We can make sandboard, on the buttocks for me, I’m afraid to break a knee. But above all, we admire the landscape while talking as the sun is eroding the sky. Before leaving, I pick up the plastic bottles that lay on the dune…

The driver, a Bedouin, takes us to a camp for a cup of tea in the middle of the desert, his territory. Apparently the desert is subject to many traffic in Egypt but the police would leave the Bedouins control it. In fact, they don’t have much of a choice, the Bedouin know the desert, it’s their home. And the cops are probably not very welcome. The sun sets while I drink the best mint tea tasted so far. I look at the fire around which our driver and his friends are discussing. It’s time to go home. Last acrobatics 4×4 in the dark, enlighted by the white light of the headlights. We run to Khaled’s car to follow a bus on the starts, in order not to be alone on the track. Eventually we go back to Cairo, listening to Aznavour’songs.

End of this third article on my visits. The next episode will be released next sunday! Subscribe here, if you want to be warned when a new article in the series is published.

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