Close call with Death – Taba, Egypt

Lee and I navigated the crossings but not without a few bumps and bruises. First Lee didn’t have enough JDs to pay to leave, then our taxi driver in Israel turned out to be a thieving jerk forcing us to get into another much kinder cab but not before almost getting separated in the scuffle. Next after a long but not excessive line out of Israel, we suffered a very rude Egyptian border official. He refused to answer any questions and just angrily waved us away so he could read his newspaper. I wanted to get our $15 Visa validated but refused to talk to us.

Next we had to negotiate taxi to Dahab which as anyone who endures the Taba border knows is a real nightmare. I first got a ride for $100 but by the end he had raised the price to $200 plus departure fees as well as enduring some very uncomfortable bickering and empty threats from the “mafia”. I was fine with that as we also threw a curveball by making him pick up a couple Americans we met in the line previous who I had instructed to wait at the end of the road.

In any case, we were on our way to Dahab and I just started feeling a bit relaxed when death approached. I was fooling around with my camera which had just decided to break all of a sudden. I heard the rest of the car yelling which prompted me to look up just in time for the main event. A double decker tour bus was barreling toward us at such an accelerated speed I could have sworn that was it was a runaway train. It took but a millisecond to register that the massive chunk of metal could not move back into its own lane due to a line of several cars which for reasons beyond me were not registering the gravity of the situation and making room for the bus. It was horrifying to say the least. Were we really playing chicken with this 50 foot behemoth?

Since we were on a curve around a mountainside, there was nowhere for us to go with the guardrail keep us tucked tightly in our lane. And at just the critical moment when we had to somehow fit the width of three vehicles accross the barely two lane mountainside highway, a very unlucky pile of rocks (construction left overs??) about a meter high turned up dead ahead. So now not only was the bus coming for us, there was an insurmountable obstacle in our way.

The situation was really unbelievable and the blood curdling screams only lasted a few seconds. Our driver did the best he could not to flip the car as we ramped over the rocks and scraped past the bus at breakneck speed. It was the longest 8 seconds in my life.

Afterwards, it took us all a good twenty minutes to recover from the shock. The driver was sweating bullets and almost in tears. I got the impression that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to him every day. We finally got to Dahab and reunited with Nader again. We visited over our favorite chicken meal and the best mango drink I have ever tasted. It was literally just several mangos blended up leaving some juicy sweet chunks through out the thick pulpy goodness. After grabbing some sweets for dessert, we checked into bed early. I was surprised to be able to sleep after all that sugar!

Grateful for narrow escapes.

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