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Column: I finally rode a camel

Gord Paulley has been having quite the holiday in Egypt and Jordan.
Carlyle Observer reporter/columnist Gord Paulley reflects on his latest travels.

It was quite the journey. Our Saskatchewan crew of 11 has been having an incredible journey through Egypt and Jordan.  

This trip will have 10 different flights and six airports. We’ll in eight hotels and sail on one cruise ship, all of which were four- or five-star quality. We boated for four days on the Nile River. So many airplanes, buses and feluccas. I averaged over 10,000 steps a day.  

In Egypt, 97 per cent of the country is desert. Thankfully the remaining three per cent is the Nile River Delta, lush, green and full of life.  

We saw pyramids and tombs, obelisks and catacombs. Plenty of minarets, museums and mummies. We saw poverty and squalor. But we also saw beautiful streets and buildings only a few metres away. I petted a small crocodile and one supper included pigeon as an entree. It tasted like chicken. I sampled and fell in love with hibiscus tea, which is tart and magenta coloured.  

We learned a lot about Middle East culture. Their work week is from Sunday to Thursday. Their preferred day for a wedding is Wednesday. Smoking is permitted everywhere, even in restaurants and hotels.  

If you consider Jordan to be a country in Asia, that makes five continents that I have visited. Only missing Australia, Antarctica and Mars. 

Post COVID-19, tourism in Egypt is booming again. It is a melting pot hosting travellers from all over the world. At the Royal Egyptian Museum in Cairo, I saw tour groups from as far away as Bolivia and New Zealand. There were as many French and Spanish touring groups as there were from North America.  

It has been nearly four years since I went to South America, and I am still learning how to travel. I brought my most comfortable runners and never wore my sandals. Casual wear was the order of the day, but dress pants were worn at suppertime.   

On day two of this latest journey, I travelled three hours one way on a bus from Cairo to Alexandria. Combined with overeating and over exertion, I was exhausted and developed cramps on day three. Too many changes for my body at one time. 

The US dollar is still considered the king of the currencies. I just didn’t pack enough of them. Dollars are needed daily for paying your bus drivers, bartering, tipping the hotel and cabin staff, and in many cases just going to the bathroom, even in public airports.  

On my next adventure, I wanted to show my Canadian colours more. At King Tut’s tomb, my green Saskatchewan Roughriders’ shirt drew interest from a couple of Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans. You just never know who you will run into.  

Could we have cram more into our trip? No. Could we have taken it easier? Yes. There is a fine line between seeing everything and running yourself ragged. The balancing act between both is tough.  

Arabs are very proud of their heritage and were a pleasure to be around. One person we met, Randa, was simply the best and most knowledgeable tour guide I have ever known. And of course, I want to thank my friend Marsha McLean for taking care of us.  

And finally, I had a tough time enjoying my camel ride. These are massive animals, and my fellow was a prancer. I held on for dear life the entire time and was more than happy to disembark.  

Another remarkable journey has been removed from my bucket list. Where to next, who knows? 



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