I’m (still) alive

18 02 2011

Although I had my doubts a few times the last two weeks. I managed to stumble across some internet at 2am after a big few days getting to Hurghada and tried to make sure that you all knew I was ok, and then didn’t update the blog again. Sorry, well, I’ve been a little unwell.

2011_02_03 08_59_04I have been eating the local food and when I thought it was safe or I had no other option, drinking the tap water in Egypt. Until I reached the tourist places on the Red Sea I had been healthy. The day I arrived at Hurghada (famous for it’s cheap, all inclusive resorts full of Russian and European tourists) I ate some Kushari (Egyptian fast food that is normally vegan and yummy) and immediately (within minutes) got sick. I will spare you the details, but it wasn’t pretty.

2011_02_03 10_55_50

A bus or 1000km of this...

After recovering for a few days (and nervously watching the revolution continue to unfold) I worked out that the only way out of here (in a generally forward direction) would be to take a bus to Cairo. My initial, and far superior, plan of taking the ferry from Hurghada to Sharm el-Sheikh (80-odd km across the Red Sea) was disrupted when I found out the ferry has been broken down for the last x months (x is any number from 3-9, depending on who you speak with). I didn’t find out because someone cut the internet to all of Egypt. Bugger.

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Is that a gun in your pocket?

So I took the bus to Cairo (since there were no buses to Suez or anywhere else remotely in the direction I wanted to go). Then the bus to Sharm el-Sheikh (spending as short a time as possible in Cairo – the revolution was calming down, but the city was still under army control). The distance was ~500km + ~600km and somehow took 16 hours of driving+3 hours of waiting around. To go a net distance of 80km. The police and army were out in full force – I’ve never seen so many tanks and been subjected to so many completely pointless ID checks. Around the Suez canal they were especially nervous and searched the whole bus.

Of course the bus was significantly delayed and the bus schedules so upset by the revolution that I ended up spending a night in the bus station of Sharm el-Sheikh. After a few days in Hurghada I didn’t want more of the same in Sharm. So I bussed again to Dahab – well known by backpackers as a place to visit for a few days and leave several weeks later.

2011_02_17 13_55_38I wanted to spend a few days to eat and recover a bit before riding to Jordan, and Dahab is the closest town you might like to kill some time in (the ferry to Jordan is a mere 80km north of Dahab in Nuweiba). I didn’t plan on getting sick a second time. I was a bit worried that I might have Giardia after a week of not getting better the second time, so I bought some antibiotics on day 9 of being sick and I seem to be on the mend. So, like most, I have spent far longer than I expected in Dahab. But, disappointingly, I haven’t done very much (like most who seem to spend months here). I have got out a few times to snorkel (when the wind wasn’t blowing me off the beach), and the reef really is first class. Although I don’t see a lot of point in diving – the best of the reef is in about 5m of water (although there are many other dive sites I didn’t look at). I would to have a photo but camera isn’t waterproof.

2011_02_17 06_32_11My Egyptian visa is perilously close to expiring, so I cheated yesterday and took a tour to the top of Mt Sinai. To watch the sunrise and get frozen. This is the site of the oldest monastery in the world, and the place where Moses was delivered the Ten Commandments. I didn’t know until I got there that the mountain next door (Mt St Catherine) was higher, but I didn’t have time to bag that one. I was amused that the monks in the monastery keep a fire extinguisher beside the ‘burning bush’.

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Today I did have great plans to go to Jordan but after staying awake all night to walk to Mt Sinai and the combined effects of being sick for weeks, my body (traitorous as it is) had better ideas and I slept too long. I hope the wind is below ‘full sand blast in the face’ again tomorrow.

Greek yoghurt

25 11 2010

I may have fallen in love. I don’t know how else I can explain where 1kg of (full fat) yoghurt goes every day.

For almost 2 weeks Jurg, Rahel, Marc, Christine and I ate breakfast (and all meals) together – and we got through 1kg of yoghurt. Marc and Christine, in an effort to postpone the inevitable coronary, have fled to Turkey and should soon be drinking chi in Istanbul. Jurg, Rahel and I are still eating breakfast together, but for some reason we still need to buy 1kg of yoghurt daily. I have to admit that we are no longer also polishing off a jar of Nutella and a jar of jam each morning.

The yoghurt is great. The funny thing is: I don’t like Greek Yoghurt. At least I didn’t until I got to Greece. The stuff they put in plastic pots elsewhere in the world somehow is completely different to what you find here. And there is no yoghurt with fruit in it in Greece. You just can’t find it – it’s BYO fruit here. But they do have a range of ‘flavours’, from 10%, 8%, 6%, 2% and the to-be-avoided 0%. Actually, the 2% tastes pretty good, but the 10% is our favourite – for now.

My first Greek yoghurt experience was in a small village in the North of Greece, in the vicinity of Ioannina. I was famished (as is appropriate in the mountains) and stopped for lunch. There wasn’t much choice (as is appropriate in a village store in the mountains) so I picked some yoghurt and some other basics. I sat down outside, tore off the lid, and cracked through the crust on the top. It smelt bad, but didn’t look rotten. I took a mouthful, and it tasted kind of strange. Not exactly good, but I could keep it down. The packaging was in Greek, so I had no idea what I’d eaten, but I’m pretty sure now it was goat or sheep yoghurt. I was put off and didn’t have any more until I got to Santorini. I was persuaded to try some more, and well, now it’s a bit of an obsession.

yoghurt bread

My tip:
Buy lots of it. Mix with one of: honey, jam, nutella, chocolate drink powder, or nothing. Eat with fresh bread. It’s also great with muesli. And Fruit salad. And Jurg whipped up a Waldorf salad which was great. And then potatoes with lots of garlic, parsley and yoghurt. We ate all of that and then complained for hours about being too full.

At some point we’ll have to start to worry where all the fat is going. But I’m not going to yet.

We’ve also found a type of feta (without salt) that I kind of like. I probably wont be eating chunks of it anytime soon, but now I can have a full Greek Salad with everyone else.

Since I’m not moving too far at the moment (wheel still in the post to Germany), you may have noticed that food has become the focal point for the day (after the library has closed). I’ll leave with a photo of a salad dinner we had last night – this is the lightest we’ve eaten in weeks. Seriously.

salad dinner sunset