April 1-2, 2014
The Dakhla oasis is really composed of three separate towns. We’d decided to stay in the first one, Al Qasr. It was the oldest and we’d both heard of a good and cheap hotel that was supposed to include breakfast and dinner in the room rate.
We pulled into town and found the hotel. It was hard to believe the building we were standing in front of was the same one we’d been looking for. The owner was a little rude and the place was a dump. A unanimous decision was made to leave.
As we continued on, we saw an outdoor cafe and stopped for a break and to assess the situation. No one really wanted to stay at the other place. We remembered that Ahmed from the Rahala Hotel in Farafra had recommended a place, Bir Al Gebal Camp, at the edge of the city. It might have been a little expensive, but Ahmed told us to mention his name and we could get a good price.
Scott had seen watermelons for sale along the side of the street, so he went out to pick one up. We enjoyed fresh watermelon with our mint tea. Nico and Julia were upset when they were overcharged for some vegetables, rice and chicken.
Just as we were coming to the end of Al Qasr, we saw a sign for Bir Al Gebal Camp. By the time we arrived at the hotel, we all just wanted to get off the bikes. It was a little expensive but as soon as we mentioned Ahmed, we were offered a deal–a room, breakfast and dinner. We accepted it.
At first we were shown two connecting rooms with single beds sharing a bathroom. We asked if they had anything else as we wanted two bathrooms. The next room had a double bed. Julia and I played “rock, paper, scissors” to see which couple would get the big bed. When I won, I felt a little bad for Nico and Julia.
We thought we were the only guests there, but at dinner we met Friedel. She’s a German woman who has a meditation retreat next door and she takes her dinner at the hotel every night. She invited us to come and visit her center if we had time.
Al Qasr is known for its old Islamic city, winding alleyways and mud brick buildings. After breakfast we hopped on our bikes and set off to visit the old city. Visitors are not allowed in without a guide and we grudgingly accepted ours.
We walked through the old mud brick buildings and the small streets. Our guide was surprisingly informative, although we would have liked to wander around a little on our own. Especially impressive was the old mosque.
As we were leaving we met a well-spoken man. He worked for a local radio station and asked to interview us for his show. We all took turns answering his questions and we enjoyed sharing about our trip and impressions of Egypt.
On the way home we picked up snacks and falafel. Scott wanted to buy a refillable gas tank. It was close to the same size as the one we’d been offered in Farafra. Luckily I managed to talk him out of it. It would have been heavy and cumbersome to transport.
When we returned to the hotel, Nico and Julia went to rest. Scott and I walked around the grounds and headed over to Friedel’s meditation center. She was home and offered to show us around. She’d built the center herself and it had a peaceful air around it.
I’m not sure how to describe it, but as Scott and I left her center we both had a feeling of euphoria and peace. Scott had the biggest smile on his face. It was a mystical experience, and even Scott who is not into these sorts of things said he felt it.
We walked around the dunes behind hotel and enjoyed our feeling of grounding. We headed back just before sunset with enough time to walk through Friedel’s stone labyrinth.
She joined us again for dinner. Just as we finished eating two men showed up. They drive an ice cream truck and stay in Al Qasr on their way through. They’d become friendly with Friedel and the owner of the hotel. They offered ice cream to everyone and rigged the cones. Each cone had a token for a free ice cream so no one had to pay.
We felt like we could have enjoyed a few more days just wandering around the dunes and hills, enjoying the feelings of peacefulness, but it was time to get going again.
April 1-2, 2014: 91.82 km (Total km: 8707.42 km)