Traveling in Africa.
From: Phidam Enterprises
Ltd[SMTP:[email protected]] Sent: Monday, November 17, 1997 12:24 AM To: [email protected] Subject:
Dirty in Uganda (me, not the country)
Good Monday morning to all!!!
I hope all is well with my many desk dwelling friends back home.
This morning I woke up in the capital of Uganda, Kampala.
I spent the night on the front lawn of the local YMCA.
They let you set up your tent and use the facilities
for a whole $1.50. However, the YMCA is used as a play
ground during the day so my tent had to be down by 8:00
a.m. to make room for the kids to play. The YMCA then
takes my stuff and stores it for me behind locked doors.
I spent my first four nights in Uganda eight kilometers outside of
the town of Jinja. Jinja is on Lake Victoria and is
the main source of water that feeds the Nile River.
Wait to you hear about this place. The town itself is
a dump, but the campsite was amazing. The campsite is
on the Bujugali Falls. It's a series of class 5 rapids.
I don't know why they call them falls. Anyways, I set
up on the river and did nothing but read books for those
four days. They had a place were I could buy food and
drinks. Actually the only food they had was samosas
and chips. It's a popular place for the overland trucks
to visit so I had plenty of company. Everyone comes
to do the rafting. They wanted $65 from me to borrow
one of their kayaks. By the forth day they came up to
me and asked for $20 so I went for it. I about drowned.
The strength of the water was incredible. The hydraulics
of the water just wouldn't let me back up whenever I
rolled. In other words I really sucked big time. But
at least I gave it a try.
The campsite was as green as any rain forest. It should be because
it rained the whole time. I would wake up in the morning
and drain my tent out. One night I was sitting on the
deck over looking the river and noticed all of the seagulls
flying overhead. At a second glance I noticed that they
were bats the size of crows. There were 1000's of them.
They must be good and fat, because the light poles around
the campsite double in diameter each night from the
enormous numbers of insects landing on them. With the
bats in the air I don't blame the insects one bit. And
talk about insects. I don't know what they feed on but
they are huge. I'm still trying to figure out how they
get into my tent. Nothing worse then waking up to something
crawling on your face.
Anyways, I hooked up with one of the overland trucks and they dropped
me here. In two days I will head for the Ssese islands.
I saw a flier that advertised a new campsite. They say
it's right on the beach. If I remember correctly I read
about these islands in the Eboli book, what ever it
This system that I'm using does not allow me to check my incoming
E-mail. I will continue walking around and try and find
For those of you that will be mailing out those, "look at our
new baby" Christmas cards I'd appreciate one. I
just hope none of the new borns look like their dads.
Please mail to:
COWPIE, John Poste Restante GPO Addis
Well that's about it for now. I smell so I think I'd better go and
visit one of those things were the water falls on top
of you. Judi once told me the name after she looked
it up in the dictionary.
Talk to you soon, John
Ltd[SMTP:[email protected]] Sent:
Tuesday, November 18, 1997 5:22 AM To:
[email protected] Subject:
Lot of shit going down in Cairo
So I crawled out of my tent this morning and thought I'd go check
out a few sights before wondering into town. First of
course I had to remove my tent. I went and check out
the tombs of the last three kings. Not much to look
at. However, there are women that must live at the tombs
for one-month periods. This way the king has a woman
with him even though he's dead. The women just sorta
hang out, looking at their watches waiting for their
one month to go by. Pretty boring time. The best thing
about a king's life is that at one time one of them
had 84 wives. On second thought I don't know if that
is a plus or a minus.
So then I made my way back into town and took a look at the local
English paper. "69 tourists killed in Egypt".
That's some head count. I could only imagine my mom
hearing about that. For those that don't know I'm meeting
my mom in Cairo on February 9. Don't forget mom that
the police did kill nine of the them. Since my travel
that's the second group of tourist that I've heard of
killed in Egypt. Just last month I heard about five
tourists killed on the coast of Kenya in Mombassa. Talking
about Mombassa it's impossible to get to it this time.
El Nino has had a huge effect on Central Africa. The
Sudan and Somalia deserts actually have water in them.
They have not seen water in 100 years, so I'm told.
The road that I need to head north to Ethiopia is washed
out at this time. If it doesn't open I'll have to fly
to the border town of Moyale, Ethiopia and then continue
overland from there. This might not be a bad idea. Some
Kenya rebels have been stopping buses heading north
into Ethiopia and stealing everything. To stop this
the Kenya government has been holding all transport
trucks and buses and then when they get around 20 they
escort everyone to the border. You gotta love life here
Last night a female traveler set up her tent at the YMCA. This is
one tuff woman. She has had malaria 15 times, typhoid
one time, bilharzias twice, giardia more times then
she knows and other things I've never heard of. I found
myself slowly backing up away from her. At one time
she was admitted to the Yale Tropical Disease Division
just to find out what she had. She said it took them
five days to determine that she at that time had malaria
and typhoid at the same time. She lost all her hair
during the treatment.
The address that I gave yesterday is where I should be around Christmas.
I was actually thinking of heading north earlier to
get out of this rain, but maybe I'll let Egypt cool
down a bit first. I did find a place to check my E-mail,
but they want an arm and a leg so I passed. Some other
time. This doesn't mean you can stop sending E-mail
to me. It's all appreciated.
Ltd[SMTP:[email protected]] Sent:
Wednesday, December 03, 1997 4:42 AM To:
[email protected] Subject:
Back from my gorilla trek!!!!
Hello desk dwellers,
As always I hope all is well with everyone. I'm currently back in
the Kampala the capital of Uganda. I started off this
morning by, of course, breaking down my tent because
I'm back on the YMCA's front lawn. I never did say why
I was sleeping there and not at the Backpackers Camp.
Well let me tell you why. Through word of mouth I heard
that the Australian owner of the place sorta has an
enemy. It's said that about five weeks ago a local who
has a grudge against the Australian decided to throw
a hand grenade over the fence. The explosion permanently
damaged a backpacker's right leg. A British backpacker
told me that the British Embassy confirmed the story.
So, of course I thought an optional place to sleep would
be better since they never did catch the guy who threw
the grenade. Anyways
this morning I went to a laboratory to be checked for
malaria. For the last eight days I've had this Judi
COWPIE sized cold sore on my upper lip. For those of
you that have seen Judi's cold sores you know how big
I'm talking about. Well I had several locals say that
I have malaria because of the cold sore. Hell, I would
listen to them over some book that tells me I don't.
So for a little under two dollars they take your blood
(Mom I made sure it was a new needle. I even brought
my own just in case). After 30 minutes the results came
back, "No malaria parasites seen". I guess
it's just a Judi COWPIE sized cold sore. Though I think
I may have a worm. You would not believe how much food
I'm eating and I pretty sure I'm losing weight. When
people can't finish their food I finish it for them.
It looks like a stool test is on the calendar when I
Let me catch you up on what I've been doing. From here I went west
into Uganda to the Ssese Islands in the Northwest portion
of Lake Victoria. What an experience getting there.
First you jump on a matatu (taxi van) to Masaka. From
there into the back of a mini pickup with 21 others
including their chickens. The poor chickens are stuffed
in gym bags with only their heads sticking out. It's
a very uncomfortable sardine ride for one hour. Then
into a ferryboat for one hour and back into another
pickup to the campsite. The ferry ride as wonderful.
Lake Victoria has no end. The lake just falls off the
horizon like an ocean. The water has a high algae level.
The green color is very strong. It was a very beautiful
ride. A young German couple operates the Hornbill campsite.
They have a place right on the lake. I hooked up again
with two more Australian women here. We stayed around
for two nights and did nothing but stay out of the rain
and enjoy the view. We packed up our wet tents and headed
out, regretting the pickup ride we knew was ahead of
From there we went to Lake Bonyoni outside of Kabale. This place
was paradise. Let me first tell you about our ride there.
We were in a matatu cruising at the 100 kpm they all
drive. They are extremely dangerous and should be avoided
as a form of transportation at all times. Unfortunately
it was our only choice. So we're cruising along and
then the driver swerved to the right and "bang"
followed by a second "bang". It took the driver
around 300 meters to stop the matatu. It was totaled.
Here in Uganda, heck all of Africa, cattle are walked
down the streets. Well we nailed two big steer in their
hindquarters. Killed both of them and luckily no one
hurt on the matatu. A bus was going by so we waved him
down and jumped on. The matatu driver wanted our money
for the distance traveled, but a quick flash of my finger
told him forget it. When we reached the lake we got
a lift in a dugout canoe to Bushara Island. The man
gave reach of us a paddle to help him out. The women
lasted about five minutes. A local church runs the campsite
and the food was amazing. The sun even came out once
and we went for a quick swim before the rain started
up again. Are you guys hearing about the amount of rain
East Africa is getting? Let me know. The view from the
island looked out over the many green terraced hillsides.
Uganda is one giant garden. All land is used.
From there we went to Mgahinga National Park outside of Kisoro. This
is in the far southwest corner of Uganda. We set up
camp outside the front gate and put our names on the
standby list to do a gorilla trek. The first full day
we paid for two armed (AK-47) wardens to escort us to
the top of Mt. Sabinyo. The mountain is 12,034 feet
in elevation. It was a good day hike. On the top we
made three big leaps from one rock to another. The first
leap takes you from Uganda to Rwanda, the second from
Rwanda to the new Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire)
and the third back to Uganda. Of course we did this
many times until the laughing was too great. The wardens
thought we were some strange mzungu (white people).
As you walk around, if locals want your attention they
say "mzungu". Since you're usually the only
white around it's a good bet they're talking to you.
The next morning we lucked out and an overland truck didn't show
so we went on a gorilla trek. With armed wardens we
walked for 2.5 hours until we got to where they where
the day before. From there, the guide tracks the trail
of the gorillas. It took another 1.5 hours before I
heard a grunt and then the guide responded back. We
continued trekking through the bamboo until we came
upon them. I mean we really came upon them. When they
hacked away a piece of bamboo there was a huge silverback
not more then 15 feet from where I was standing. This
thing was huge. It would even give Brent some competition
in the weight room. After a more careful look there
turned out to be a total of eight mountain gorillas
in this family. Two huge silverbacks protected the family.
We were allowed one hour to watch them and take pictures.
They are habituated over the years from people searching
for them. We didn't seem to worry them, even though
they had one small baby. It was an amazing sight to
see. It's hard to believe that there are only 600 left
in the wild and that the soldiers kill them during times
of war. They are very human like. This place is where
Dian Fossey researched the mountain gorillas until poachers
killed her. I hear they also filmed "Gorilla in
the Mist" here. Unfortunately I couldn't find any
of those really cool gorilla hand ashtrays. On the third
day I said good-bye to the Australian women, because
they wanted to continue. I hung out and did more hiking
for three more nights. I found the place to be the nicest
site in Africa. Rob and Steve would love the flora.
I've never seen an equal.
From here I'm heading back to Nairobi. On the way I'm hitting Lake
Nakuru. That's where all the flamingos are that you
see in the movie "Out of Africa". They estimated
that at any one time there are over 100,000 of them.
I figure a couple days nights to try and find a lift
into the park and them I'm out of there. You need a
vehicle to drive the lake. So I'll need to hitch at
the front gate. Wish me luck.
I still have been unable to check for messages. As I said the one
place in town wants too much money. I'll check for sure
Also, December 3 comes to mind as someone's birthday. So happy birthday.
Oh, remember that women I talked about that were always sick. Well
I heard through the grapevine that she picked up malaria
again. Bad luck.
Again I hope all is well. TAKE CARE, John
From: BROTHER JOHN[SMTP:[email protected]]
December 09, 1997 12:31 AM To:
[email protected] Subject:
Off to Ethiopia (I hope)
Hello to all. I hope all is well with everyone.!!!
WOW!!! Did you guys ever put a smile on my face. I finally arrived
here in Nairobi five days ago and was able to check
my E-mail. I had a total of 41 messages. I must have
had a grin on my face for an hour. Thank you. I also
received three letters form Hearn, Kathi and Milton.
Congratulation goes out to Harvard for making the smartest decision
of his life.
Of course I would like to answer all E-mails but money says I can't.
Well this is the beginning of my fifth day here in Nairobi. I've
been here waiting for my Visa application to be accepted
from Ethiopia. I finally got it this morning. It's not
that they screen everyone; these things just take a
bit of time. So tomorrow morning I'm on a bus for the
town of Isiolo. Isiolo
is 4.5 hours North of here at the base of Africa's second
highest mountain, Mt. Kenya. Due to the heavy rains
and the fact that the road is dirt, Isiolo is as far
as the bus service will take me.
For the remaining 450km I will need to hitch
a ride on a lorry heading North towards Ethiopia. A
lorry is simply a flat bed work truck. Some travelers
heading south that they want around $20 for the lift
have told me.
Now here's the problem. Supposedly the roads are so bad at this moment
that no traffic is heading beyond Isiolo. And when,
or if, traffic does proceed it only moves when there
is a large enough number to form a convey for protection
against the bandits in Northern Kenya. Did you get all
that? So, if I find myself waiting for more then five
days I will head back here to Nairobi and take a plane
to the border town of Moyale. From there Ethiopia has
nice paved roads heading straight to the capital of
Addis Ababa. The one thing I hate to do is fly and misses
the scenery that I've heard of within the region of
Northern Kenya. It's supposed to be fantastic.
Anyways let me tell you what happened my last day in Kampala, Uganda.
I was walking the Hilton Hotel to take a free look at
a U.S.A. Today that I found a certain store sold. She
was getting used to me taking my free look and always
greeted me by handing it to me. On the way I saw, along
with the rest of the street, a thief steal from a lady.
This thief made one huge mistake, he ran to slow. He
was caught and brought back to the lady in the back
of a pickup. You
couldn't see the man, because of all the flying fists
and elbows, but you knew he was in there. They pulled
him out of the truck and began to beat him with any
object they could find. There must have been 50 people
involved in the beating. He was doing pretty well until
his battered arms couldn't take it anymore and he lowered
them, exposing his head. Big mistake. From there it
only lasted another 30 seconds. I asked a local if he
thinks the man will steal again and he said, "most
likely". The man will not go to jail for his crime
and the locals know this, so this is their own form
The next morning I headed out to check out the flamingos of Lake
Nakuru. After a seven-hour bus ride I was dropped off
in the City and began a five-kilometer walked to the
Lake. I the front gate I was shocked to see that they
wanted $27 to enter. I'm sorry, but when you're traveling
that's allot of money. I asked the guard why so much
and he informed me that with the influx of tourist heading
from Nairobi to the game parks the popularity of this
place was also going up. So why not raise the price.
Well they raised the price out of my limit so
I walked the five kilometers back to town (taxi's were
to much). In town I pulled out my map and noticed a
lake 20 km south. I asked a local elderly man if the
lake had flamingos and sure enough it did. 80 cents
later I was back in a matatu and off to the lake. The
driver dropped me off on the road and I walked 1.5 km
through farmland to reach the lake.
Along the way I picked up no less then 10 local
kids curious where the white man was going. This lake
was beautiful and full of flamingos. I was able to get
within 150 meters before they would fly off. And what
a sight when they all take to wing and fill the sky
with pink. And to think it only cost me another 80 cents
to hitch a ride on a passing matatu back to Nakuru where
I grabbed my main pack and headed off to Nairobi.
Mom, don't worry about the camera I'll pick up one when I get home.
For those of you that don't know my new Pentax camera
broke about three months ago in Botswana. So don't expect
allot of pictures.
I hear there's an E-mail service at the British Embassy in Addis
Ababa so you'll hear from me there.
Take Care, John
From: BROTHER JOHN [SMTP:[email protected]]
January 05, 1998 7:48 PM To:
[email protected] Subject:
Africa by bus
Hello from Asmara, Eritria!!!!!!!
I hope that everyone had a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.
Also, I hope this message finds all well. I thought
I'd start off with where we last let off, Nairobi. First
off before I go into that I hope this E-mail finds its
way to you. They have a strange set-up here were I have
to hit the "Enter" key after each line. So I'm
sorry if it turns out hard to read on your end. Also,
I am unable to check my messages. For sure in Cairo.
if you remember I left Nairobi heading for a city called Isiolo at the base of Mt. Kenya. I was hoping
to hitch a ride from there to the Ethiopia border city
of Moyale. I waited for three days with no luck. With
the road washed out not even private 4 X 4's were going
through. So I headed back to Nairobi and paid $110 (Ouch)
for a two hour 600 Km flight to Moyale. My first inter-Africa
flight. It was actually nice because the pilot flew
at around 3500 feet so I could see everything.
I spent a total of a little over three weeks in Ethiopia. The country
is picture perfect Africa. Straight out of the pages
of a book. The country has a canyon that must be equal
to the Grand Canyon. In the Southwest you have people
with plates in their lower lips and in the Northwest
you have the neighborhood where Lucy, our oldest upright
relative, was found. During my three weeks I hit Moyale, Awasa,
Dire Dawa, Harar, Addis Ababa, Bahar Dar, lalibela,
Gondar and Axum. Sorry if that bores some of you. My
brother has a co-worker from this country and I thought
he would be interested in my exact spots.
The most interesting of these places to visit was Lalibela. Lalibela
has 10 monolithic churches carved out of the side of
hills or straight into the ground. King Lalibela made
them somewhere around the 12th century. When I say monolithic
I mean right into solid rock. It must have taken 100
years to build all of them. It was an eye opener.
By far the worst place I've seen in Africa is Addis Ababa. That place
must have grown out of camel fecus. It smelled something
bad. There were times when I was walking that I'd have
problems breathing and my eyes would water.
I couldn't walk more then 50 feet without someone
throwing their hand in my face and asking for money.
It was non-stop. I would see topless, blind, pregnant
women in the streets looking for any kind of handout.
Most of these women would also have a baby on their
Since we're on the subject of Ethiopia let's talk a bit about the
off, I don't want you to get me wrong. I enjoyed Ethiopia
and they have by far the best buses in Africa. Where
I'm going with this is that the Ethiopian culture has
this thing against opening windows. The Ethiopians,
especially the elders, believe, so I'm told, that you
can get sick from the incoming wind, or something like
So close your eyes and picture it 100 degrees outside on a 12-hour
bus ride with no air conditioner and all of the windows
closed. Basically you find your liquefied brain oozing
out your pores, people sneezing and coughing with billions
of air-born pathogens multiplying within the warm air
waiting to be vacuumed up your nose. But hey, at least
with the windows up we don't have to worry about that
horrible wind getting at us. That would be tragic. Yes
I dreaded the bus rides. One trip I couldn't take it
any longer so I cracked open the window a quarter of
an inch. The sound of the incoming wind sent a dozen
evil eyes in my direction. I promptly closed the window.
I probably killed five locals just that one opening.
Since I'm in the complaining mode let me tell you another story.
After I finally made it to Moyale I scored a hotel.
I thought at first I'd be glad to be out of my tent,
but I miss it already. Anyways, it was your normal place
for around $1.30 with mosquitoes and the occasional
cockroach. It came around that time to find the drop toilet.
Well it didn't take long to find. At about 25 meters
away I couldn't see it but smell it. We've all heard
of the elephant grave yard, while I think this drop
toilet was where all drop toilets came ones they were
full and had no more usable life, or space in this case,
left in them. I decided that I'd hold out for a while.
Well night finally came and I couldn't wait. I felt like I was entering
ground zero of an atomic S-bomb. It was bad. It actually
hurt my sinuses. This was worse then having to go through
the cosmetic section of Nordstrom's. The worst part
was the cockroaches. I believe they knew I was in no
position to hurt them so they used my white butt, like
Santa uses Rudolf's nose, to guide their way in and
out of the hole. I finally made it out, probably sterile,
but thankfully out.
After working my way north I made it here to Asmara. Here, I'm one
happy camper now. Well, actually one happy backpacker
since I haven't been in
my tent the last month. They have western food
here. I got on a scale the other day and found that
I've lost a total of 16 pounds. Who needs Jenny Craig?
Just come and visit Africa. Lose weight and take in
the sights. Anyways my first night here I ate two cheeseburgers,
order of fries, milkshake, and 1/2 liter of milk. I've
been eating like that for the last three days.
I'm currently working on getting my Visa for both Saudi Arabia and
Egypt. I need a transit Visa for Saudi Arabia in order
to take the boat from here to Suez. The boat stops off
in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Wish me luck. I heard I could
set my tent up on the deck. It's a five-day trip on
the Red Sea for around $150.
I need to get going. There's someone looking over my shoulder.
Take Care, John
Can you please sent a copy of this to the following:
[email protected] and [email protected]
From: BROTHER JOHN [SMTP:[email protected]]
January 08, 1998 3:41 PM To:
[email protected] Subject:
Good Morning to All!!!!!!
It's Thursday morning here and I'm hoping to get a hold of my Saudi
Arabia transit visa today. The main reason is that I
heard the boat leaves only on Thursday nights. So if
I don't get it today you can see what the problem is.
It's actually not that bad. The city of Asmara is by
far the nicest city I've seen in Africa. So it's a good
place to hang and wait. The last few days I've caught three movies. Granted
the movies are 10 years old but they're new to here.
They only cost 50 cents. The town is an Italian looking
town. Some of you may be asking yourselves, "Why
John, Oh mighty traveler that you are, is it that way".
While let me tell you. The Italians began coming to
Eritrea in the 19th century. In 1890 Eritrea was declared
colony. The Italians invested mass money by building
roads, railways, ports, factories and even entire cities.
However, after Mussolini got his ass kicked in 1941
the Italians were forced to give up their claim on Eritrea. That's a quick history lesson.
Well I did something yesterday that I thought I wouldn't do on this
lengthy African excursion of mine. I actually didn't
believe I was capable of it.
Earlier yesterday morning I, yes BROTHER JOHN
went to a museum. I know that's a huge cultural leap
forward for someone like myself. I was sorta nervous
as I approached the front doors. I pictured upon entering
that I'd be struck down by lightning. The all-mighty
museum god would not allow someone of my demeanor, one
who avoids culture at all cost, into his/her home.
Fortunately I made it past the front doors. Since my entry was so
uneventful I thought there must be a backup plan to
oust me. I imagined a set of speers shooting from the
wall or a giant boulder rolling on me as in those "Indiana
Jones" flicks or a robot like the one from "Lost
in Space" flaring its arms at me and with its computerized
voice squeaking "Danger Danger". It would
grab me by the collar and shorts and hurl me through
the doors. No such events occurred. So with a successful
entry I tightened my shoes to begin my Olympic record
speed walk through the museum. A couple times I slowed
down, to view a weapon or some woodworking tool, but
slowly got back to my pace and was out of there in record
time. I had to hurry because I was holding my breath.
I still didn't trust the museum god to let the likes
of me into their home.
If you don't hear from me tomorrow I'm most likely on my way the
Saudi Arabia.Oh yeah, go back to my original address
at john [email protected]
Molughela Abraham - I'm using a private companies system. The name
of the company is Tfanus Enterprise at 17 Ras Dashan
Street, tele 124050. Maybe you and your dad can communicate
through here. It's only 15 Nakfa to send. The exchange
currently is 7.2 Nakfa to 1 USD.
Take Care, John
Judi, Please provide again to the following
[email protected] [email protected]
---------- From: BROTHER
JOHN[SMTP:[email protected]] Sent:
Thursday, January 15, 1998 10:52 AM To:
[email protected] Subject:
Finally in Cairo, Egypt
Howdy from Cairo, Egypt,
As usual I hope all is well and I want to thank all of you for the
E-mails. Again I found myself with a smile after seeing
20 messages on my screen. Thank you!!!!
I also want to thank those of you (this sounds like I won an Oscar
or something) that have been helping my sister around
her new home. All I ask is to leave me with something
to do when I return. I'm going to have an extra eight
hours more per day than the rest of you and I need a
good house-remodeling job to kill that time.
So, lets start off where we last left off. The day after my last
E-mail from Asmara, Eritrea I was on a bus, with a Saudi
Arabia transit visa and boat ticket in hand, heading
for the port city of Masawa. I only had to wait one
night before the boat rope broke and I was off to Jeddah.
That one night in Masawa was educational. I met one
sole backpacker who'd gotten off the boat coming from
Jeddah. He talked this and that about a thing called
"Ramadan". He went on and on about the problems
this "Ramadan" caused him while traveling
by boat from Suez, Egypt. I, of course, had no idea
what this "Ramadan" was he's talking about.
To me "Ramadan" sounds like the name of one
of those cars on that Saturday morning cartoon show
"Transformers". By day it's just a Toyota,
but when trouble arises he transforms from Toyota to
a giant fighting ninja robot named "Ramadan".
I went along with him trying not to show my ignorance on the subject.
I'd throw out the occasional, "Yeah that Ramadan",
"That's what I've learned", "ah-ha",
"Really", "Wow" and so on. All I
learned was that for a one-month period those of the
Islamic faith don't eat or drink between sunrise and
sunset. If you are caught, your butt can be hauled to
jail until Ramanda is complete. This, of course, caused
concerns within my devious little mind.
The boat ride was uneventful... just like a B.C. Ferry but with people
in bed sheets walking all over the deck.
After waking up in Jeddah I began my walk through the city. I was
the sole person on the streets. I thought the fumes
from that Moyale drop toilet must have drifted this
way and nuked the city. Actually everybody sleeps throughout
the day to rest for the nightly activities. After two
hours of walking I found a mom and pop store open and
grabbed myself a handful of Snickers. Of course I was
lectured, I think, not to eat until sunset. I gave the
clerk my best "Who me" look and left. Within
30 seconds I was pinned between a bush and an apartment
building savoring those peanuts, caramel and chocolate.
After a few more hours it was back to the hotel and
the boat company brought me back to my departing ferry.
The boat trip was similar to the first in that it also took three
days and two nights. However, I was unaware that this
boat was registered in Saudi Arabia. Yes, that meant
nothing to eat between sunrise and sunset. After the
first day I found myself starving. I thought of unthreading
my underwear and forming a fishing line. Then use the
spiral from my notebook to form a hook. I'd catch a
fish and then crawl to some unseen place and eat my
sushi away form roaming eyes. Luckily, I didn't have
to go the those measure. I found they had a cafeteria
that opened immediately after sunset. I was front and
center when those doors opened.
On both trips I found a great place to sleep on the deck. The weather
was kind and I never had to pull out my tent.
Anyways that puts me here in Cairo. I'm hanging here for a couple
a more days, so send me some messages if time is available.
I'd love to hear from all. From here I'll head for the
Sinai region to do some diving. Maybe even slap on the
old Speedo and do a few laps in the Red Sea. I'm only
kidding I don't want to gross anyone out. I know what
women think about those things.
Talk to you soon
Duncan - thank you for the pictures of Judi's home. They turned out great.
Rob - You don't even need to ask me if you can borrow my stain glass
toolbox. Just ask Mom or Judi to slag it for you.
Judi - Can you also send this along with any olds ones you may have
to the following address.
[email protected] Mom may have the old ones if
you don't. Thanks. Also, continue sending messages to
those two from last time.
From: BROTHER JOHN[SMTP:[email protected]]
February 02, 1998 8:15 AM To:
[email protected] Subject:
One more week till mom
HELLO TO ALL!!!!
I've returned to Cairo and WOW!!! With the completion of Ramadan
this place has awakened like a sleeping giant. The place
is swarming shoulder to shoulder with people. It's a
loud polluted metropolis, but there's a certain character
that makes this place inviting.
As always I hope all is well with those that receive this message.
Congratulations to the Rickett's on the birth of their
OK, so lets start off from where we last let off. I jumped a bus
in Cairo and eight hours and one fan belt later arrived
at the beach community of Dahab.
Dahab is located on the Sinai Peninsula. Dahab
is by far the most comfortable place I've seen for budget
travelers. You wouldn't believe this place. It's a lazy
place with nothing to do but sit on your keester and
bake in the sun. When the sun becomes too much you simply
unstick yourself from your seat and cool off in the
water. And let me tell you desk-dwellers, it feels refreshing.
Oh, and if I haven't mentioned it, it's also some of
the best snorkeling in the world. Just thought I'd throw
that in for those that are reading this within their
stuffy offices. For a little over $1.00 you can rent
mask, snorkel and fins. Not bad, eh!
It's hard to describe the place. It's a Bedouin village converted
for the comforts of those like myself; poor budget travelers
with no job, home, car or relationship. In other words
for losers on the run. Let me describe an average day.
After emerging around 10:00 from your room, you stagger
through the heat to plop your white ass in one of the
many beachfront restaurants. The restaurants are all
the same. They've
covered the beach with blankets, pillows, beanbag chairs
and speakers. Usually Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Led Zep
is playing. You know the music! Anyways, the minute your ass is in place, a
shadow engulfs you asking how they can best please you.
For 5 Egyptian Pounds (EP) you can get a huge breakfast
with sausage, eggs, yogurt, toast, chips and tea.
3.40 EP = $1.00. You figure it out. My brain
got turned off around six months ago. I can hear my
old boss, Steve Malloy, wondering if it's actually ever
Anyways, until dinner you do nothing but soak up sun and snorkel.
We'll call it soak and snork for short.
This goes on for around seven hours. When you
get thirsty you'd order a 1 EP coke. Dinners usually
cost between 5 and 10 EP's and they're amazing. From
there you leave your imprinted ass and head for the
free movies that are played each night in one of the
On my last night in Dahab a group of us climbed into a taxi and headed
for Mt. Sinai. It took two hours to summit. The sunrise
was beautiful. On the climb down we hit St. Catherines
Monastery. The monastery, it is said, is build around
the burning bush that spoke to Moses.
Dahab was a place I had to drag myself away from. Many travelers have been there for up to three
months and have not seen anything else of Egypt. It
was a hard place to leave but after six days I jumped
a bus for Cairo.
I was back in Cairo for only one day before I was seated in a bus
heading to Siwa. Siwa is an oasis about 35 miles from
the Libya border. I heard that they filmed parts of
"The English Patient" there. That movie was definitely a major tease to
the male viewers. Right out of the gate the movie has
flak, from anti-aircraft artillery, filling the screen.
You can look around the theater and see all the males
lifting out of their seats and leaning forward towards
the screen for more action. The airplane is hit and
crashes hard into the ground. All the guys are happy.
However, after the crash the movie takes a 180-degree
turn and becomes a major chick flick.
Even won some awards. A true guy movie never
wins squat. That, of course, is my sole opinion.
Anyways, Siwa was a five nighter. I went and hit three separate forts
from the thirteenth century and swam in several of the
natural springs that surround the town. It cost 7 EP's
at the hotel and the food never exceeded 10 EP's. Life
in Egypt can be cheap if you try.
Well it's time to go. I'm going to catch a guy flick called "The
Best of the Best Kick Boxers". A true guy flick.
Talk to you soon, John