Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Wednesday 29th October - Farewell to Lattakia

The heat and the flies. The suffocating humidity of the buses where we sweat and wait like cattle. The smell of bodies. Then the jam packed-plane and the loud prayers. I did not like to say that there was more point to putting our faith in the maintenance engineers and the pilot than him upstairs. Oddly the man sitting next to me did not put on his safely belt, but insisted on singing from the Koran for the whole journey. On the whole I find Islam to be the most noisy religion on the planet. From the amplified morning prayers at 4.00 am which wake me every day, to the maniacal chanting at the drop of any available hat, to the cacophony from the myriad of minarets five times a day when each seemingly jostle for supremacy and possibly deliberately start their calling several minutes apart just to make the whole thing take longer, I feel that as an atheist my rights to a bit of peace and quiet have not been respected at all. Interestingly, the biggest single group on this convoy - other than the Moslem's - are the atheists. We should turn it into a religion....

A safe landing at El Areesh brought us yet more waiting and delay. The yabbering at the arrivals room , visas, the madness of exchange rates and inability of airport staff to understand that the pound is worth more then the dollar (my dollars are in the boat), an empty stomach, general insanity and oppressive heat bring on a sudden visit to the lavatory. I am not amused.

Several hours later the Egyptians find that they cannot properly delay us any longer, and load us onto coaches bound for the 5* El Areesh Hotel for which we have to pay $50 a night and share 3 to a bed.

Rahmah, my bed share, had to undergo a night of constant movement - the movement of my bowels mostly. After having got up almost 40 times - for as soon as I lay down I had to get up again - it is fair to say that I felt bad. But he convoy was unrelentingly on the move and there was no rest for me. The vehicles had arrived at the port and negotiations were complete. I reluctantly downed some Imodium and after yet another long wait in the sun and the heat at the port, I was once again behind the wheel of Little Van and on course for the forbidden gates of Rafah for which we have for so long been waiting to enter.

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