Journal: Friday 21 January 2011
Around 11.00am, showered and somewhat refreshed but with amazing images of the White Desert still in our heads, Fiona, Malcolm and I joined Sam and Abdul at the minibus, all loaded up ready for the long drive from Qasr el-Farafra all the way back to Kharga. Our policeman Basim had mysteriously re-appeared to join us too. Some protection that was!
The journey in reverse was no more interesting than on the way. I was listening for several hours to a Paul Sussman narrated e-book on my Kindle, ‘The Last Secrets of the Temple’. This allowed me to watch the road for any possible excitement on route and not to miss anything. We saw several mirages towards the distant hills, giving the impression of vast lakes in the desert, but quite illusive to photograph. Half way to Dakhla we saw a guy on a bicycle pushing his way up a hill, laden with side panniers and looking very hot. Wow, that’s some ride!
After 300km we reached Dakhla and looked for somewhere in Mut to stop for a coffee break. Nowhere seemed quite right to Abdul. The reason for this was because we also needed to find a toilet, more of a difficult proposition in Egypt where coffee shops are populated only by men. Eventually we pulled up on a street and Basim got out and disappeared down the road, coming back and saying he had found us a toilet. Fiona Malcolm and I followed him to a small Egyptian hotel where the manager showed us upstairs to his ‘best suite’ which had a huge bathroom we could have held a party in. Though I hate putting people to so much trouble, Basim had his uses after all!
After a quick coffee on one of Mut’s main streets we were back on the road and arrived at the Pioneer Hotel in Kharga City just in time for dinner. Abdul was relieved that he didn’t have to drive too far on the desert road in the dark as there are many potholes and hidden obstacles. We were all tired and travel-weary and the five-course meal we were presented with in the dining room was mostly untouched. An early night for all.