Towards Turkey Day 1

St Barbara's Web Diary
Peter & Sue Goldsmith
Thu 1 May 2008 10:09

33:01N 32:20E

12.00 1st May

Egypt is a country of dramatic contrasts. The Red Sea, the desert and the
Nile Valley are all so very different. The same is true of the people. In
the 4 weeks or so that we have been in the country we have met kind and
gentle people that seem genuinely pleased to see you and to welcome you to
their country. Then we have met those closer too the tourist industry that
use all their cunning to relieve you of your money. The final memory is that
of the pilots that take you through the canal. They have a reputation for
greed that is well deserved and it leaves a lasting impression. Our first
was smiling and pleasant but was upset at his "present" , in spite of the
fact that we put together a parcel of gifts for his children in addition to
cash. The second immediately demanded a hat that he clearly intended to keep
and asked for his "present" many times. We handed this to him as he was
leaving to prevent further discussion. It worked. He took one look and
turned his back on us with a look of disgust. Our last contact with Egypt.
Such a pity. We will of course all remember the amazing sights of the
pyramids, the tombs and the Nile itself.

Now the last part of this passage as we motor sail across the deep blue
water of the Mediterranean towards Cyprus. The wind is light and variable,
the sky is clear and we are making for Paphos at the western end of the
island. Probably a brief stop to fill up with fuel, sample some local food
beer and wine and catch up with our friends on Albert II. The forecast is
for light winds for a day or two more so we will use the opportunity to
carry on to our destination in Turkey near Bodrum.

It does feel as if we have reached a significant milestone in this journey
that began almost 4 months ago.

Baksheesh seems to be a way of life in this part of the world, there's
something quite endearing about someone who, in being asked for directions
to a cafe stops whatever they were doing and takes you there, maybe a
distance of a few hundred metres, sometimes more, but at the end a tip seems
quite appropriate and we've eaten in some great places we probably wouldn't
have found. Peter's right about the pilots, less endearing and more
endurance. But I guess the situation isn't helped by other boats. When we
were waiting and hoping to leave Ismailia the very large catamaran Wonderful
had some issue over clearance. This was not only resolved in minutes but
they were first to leave. Did 200 cigarettes make any difference? Those who
exploit corruption make it all the more difficult for others who follow and
it is no wonder that presents becomes the expected norm rather than a tip
for good service. However grumpy the last pilot may have been he can never
change the absolutely brilliant memories of kind, gentle and welcoming
people who made up so many of those we came in contact with. And a last
thought for the pilot - there is an expression here used as a rebuke for
poor behaviour and intended to prompt reflection on whether you would be
proud to look back, it is 'your mother will know'. I wish I knew the Arabic.

All at sea now, the med slipping past as we head for one of the UK's
favourite winter sun destinations. As it is now officially spring we would
be relaxed about travelling north. Relaxed? I would if I could keep my teeth
from chattering. Sam has taken to his bed and won't get up and after his
watch Peter went to bed fully dressed. Please someone, if anyone is
listening, FedEx us some thermals, tins of Heinz scotch broth and three
medium sized woolly hats. Meantime, I'm joining Sam!