One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things - Henry Miller

Friday, June 25, 2010

Suez Canal

24/06/2010 4:00 PM
I’ve just spent half an hour on the balcony enjoying the most beautiful day on the Mediterranean. The sea is a gentle ripple with every wave twinkling in the midday sun. I am astounded at how big this planet is. That tiny patch of blue on the world map that represents the Mediterranean Sea is so large, we have been travelling since 8:30pm last night and have yet to see anything but water as we head towards Crete and that little section of the map, the Arabian Peninsula, took us from 20:15pm on the 14th June until 20:15pm on the 21st to round (and until 3:30pm the next day to tie up in Port Said on the edge of the Mediterranean). ...Every day brings something new to ponder.
After all this time “at sea” we anchored off Suez at the top of the Gulf of Suez and waited till 5:30 the next morning to lead the north bound convoy of ships into the canal. Every day there are two south bound conveys and one north bound convey that pass through the canal. The canal is too small for ships to pass so the first southbound group anchor up in the Bitter Lakes while the north bound group (28 of us) passes through. Then later on there is a bypass and the second convoy (a smaller group) pulls over into this lane while the north bound one passes. It takes about five hours for the whole convey to pass each group as the ships are spaced a mile and a half apart.
The day was as good as our day in Glacier Bay – a very pleasant way to see the country side. No wonder the tours across Europe by water are so popular! I developed a sore wrist from taking photographs! We had been led to believe it would be a dull, boring experience with desert on either side. Instead it was the most interesting, spectacular day that gave us a 10 hour introduction to Egypt and the Egyptians were most excited to see this huge cruise ship passing by their “doors”. They waved and whistled from their homes, army lookout tours, fishing boats, barges, fields, railway lines...while herding cattle, swimming, waiting for buses, walking the roads, riding their donkeys...the only ones not to wave were the soldiers marching in columns along the roads... even a little red excavator waved away joyously as we passed .
All along the canal we saw these very interesting cone shaped structures and wondered what they were. Hobo 1 worked out they were smoke houses and explained his theory quite eloquently at dinner that night. Yesterday we were told they were pigeon houses. The Egyptians love squab and everyone has a pigeon house! I think the hobo’s credibility as an expert on things rural has been shot to pieces!
Hobo 1 was most impressed with the fertility of the Nile delta, flood irrigated with from the Nile in broad canals up to 170 miles long. With this water the western side of the canal grows the healthiest crops of alfalfa, corn, rice, mangos, dates, melons etc while the eastern side has nothing but sand until water is pumped under the canal and then the same richness rises from the desert sands. A huge six mile long bridge crosses the canal to try to attract more people to move across to the Sinai and a rail bridge on a pivot is being built to links the two sections of Egypt. There are also barges crossing regularly while emergency pontoon bridges are prepared ready for launching at several points along the canal.
We fell into bed that night simply exhausted by the excitement of the day.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mummy
    I love reading and seeing all this it lets us put it all into perspective too. Technology is great. Good news about Rhys. His tissue results came back all clear and he is ready to head back to Townsville next week