April 4, 2010

Singing Pilgrims

From Eilat to the Egyptian border in another bus, this time with a group of 16 Afrikaaners on a year-long world tour. They’re freckled and burned, talking in Dutch and thick English. Billy and I make sure we get off the bus before them- we need to do the passport process as quickly as possible and get to our ferry in Nuweiba: there’s only one a day, and it leaves for Jordan in an hour and a half.

Through phase one and into the departure hall, and our hearts sink two notches. The hall is packed, a sea of red caps all the way from the door to Security.

HOLYLAND TOURS

Say the caps,

Pilgrimage 2010.

It’s a Christian tour group of epic size, all the way from India. A good many among them are unrushably ancient. The rest are in no hurry either. A middle-aged Israeli official in high spirits scampers up and down the line, shunting people along and trying words in Hindi, raising smiles. A very old man at the front of the queue gets confused and turns in circles. The Israeli official implores everyone to be quiet, and then rouses the whole hall in a rendition of the Indian national anthem.

It takes a very long time to travel the hundred yards to Egypt. By the time we’ve found a minibus-taxi and reached the port at Nuweiba, the boat has gone.

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