Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gateway to The Suez Canal



Port Said, Egypt

Overnight our ship moved from Israel to Port Said in Egypt. The port is the gateway to the Suez Canal and owes its existence to the Canal itself.

Having visited Egypt many times, Lisa and I decided to stay on the ship both today and also tomorrow when our ship moves to Alexandria, Egypt. The only tours being offered today involve either an overnight journey into Cairo, or a day trip to see the Pyramids and return to the ship. This sounds all well and good until you realize that the drive into Cairo is almost 4 hours long, which means that going on a “day” trip involves a 12 hr. day, 8 hours of which are spent riding in a bus. Still, almost all the passengers made the journey, which has left us virtually alone on the ship.

In recent years, security in Egypt has tightened considerably. People travelling the roads to Cairo must travel in armed convoys, and on each tour bus, there is an armed security agent. From our room at the rear of the ship, we can see a security boat just yards away where a large group of armed men in bullet proof vests, silently sit and watch. While we were having lunch we could look over the city, and in so doing we begin to notice that in the shadows all along the dock boundaries there were armed guards moving about.

I do have one story to share about the port. You will see in our photographs that the ship is docked directly next to an adjacent port that appears to be used for fishing boats.IMG_2608 In the distance, we can see a large mosque and then the city streets beyond. At first glance, the port seems to be a mass of small boats all tied together in a jumble. I am guessing that in the small harbor there are well over 100 boats jammed together. As you sit and watch however, you can see that this “mass” almost seems to be alive, and that in fact, there is quite a bit of order and activity.

Since the actual dock area where the boats can unload their cargo is quite small, the ships tie themselves together in long chains. The chain closest to the ship stretches almost 20 boats in length, each boat tied side to side to its neighbors. The boats are facing stern, or rear, outward. Then in front of each boat is another, with its stern facing outward. So all in all, there are two chains of around 20 boats all together. This mass floats and sways in the wind, and seems to move like a giant congo line. At times the chain expands and a boat moves in or out. Sometimes the entire line drifts away from the dock, allowing boats to unload, after which the line closes up again. For the life of me as I watched this spectacle, I could not figure out how the lines were being moved. I never heard or saw engines started, except when a boat was entering or leaving the harbor. This mass just seems to have a life of its own. It is all rather fascinating to watch.

As I said tonight the ship will move 120 miles to Alexandra, Egypt, and for now, we are very much enjoying our days at leisure.

No comments: