Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Arrival in Larnaca

21 April 2009 - arrival at the Larnaca Marina, Cyprus. Per & Ali on the boat. Alyssa and two marina guys on land. Photo taken by Elly Kjellqvist.

Here we are arriving at the Larnaca Marina. The guys who came to help us moor the boat turned out to be a great bunch of Lebanese guys (and one Egyptian guy) with whom we have been hanging out the past few days.

Shipley's of Course

Here's Nikki's comment to the Fat Bottomed Girls blog mention of Dunkin Donuts:

dunkin donuts. pfft! click your heels together 3 times and say...there's no place like shipley's. there's no place like shipley's. there's no place like shipley's. i'll meet you there with starbucks in hand. :)

Of course, Shipley's! Duh. What kind of Texan do you think I am? Alyssa told me, as so many non-Texans do, how happy she was when krispy kreme came to Australia. I did, in fact, bore her with the Shipley's v. Krispy Kreme divide among Texans.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Back to Beirut

Still being lazy about the blog but Nikki just told me Elly's blog says we're off Sybaris and that I need to explain. We're heading back to Beirut in the next few days. We were too sad to leave Lebanon and we met a great bunch of Lebanese guys (and one Egyptian guy) the minute Sybaris pulled into the Larnaca Marina. So...that further convinced us that we are meant to return. Looks like the next flight we can get will be on Friday, so will be chilling out here a few more days.

About the dangers in Beirut... I've been intending to blog about it because we are not taking it lightly. We weren't well informed during our first visit and relied on Per & Elly's judgment (which was very sound). This time, we're better informed and we know the risks. We still think it's worth going. In brief, the local advice is to wait until after the 7th June elections because there is always a threat of "trouble." I can't go into it now becasue we're heading to dinner, but we've talked to a lot of people, we've made many friends, we've looked at the travel warnings, etc...and we still want to go.

Sorry to worry y'all. Once we get settled I'll try to post the details of our first visit and hopefully convey why Lebanon is so compelling that we feel we must go back.

Hey, at least Alyssa and I are together on this! The only two girls who thought sailing to Madagascar on Millennium was a good idea are now the only two girls who would get off the coolest sailboat in the world (Sybaris) to return to Lebanon (instead of safely island hopping in Greece). Hard to believe we didn't even know one another three months ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Could They Be Pirates?

March 2009 - Indian Ocean.

Here's a video of a boat that approached us out at sea...see below for two excerpts from my journal.

Video recorded by Sacha Imboden (with my camera)

Journals on Pirates

10 March 2009, 8:15pm Tuesday - At sea…end of day 7 to Maldives

The pirate scare: Sacha came in and told us to get ready for the pirate attack. Turns out some little fishing boat spotted us and turned around then came toward us. When I got out on deck it was pretty close and approaching us directly. John had binoculars and didn’t seem fazed, but Sacha mimed the teeth chattering look at me. I can’t say I was totally freaked, but I was kind of like wtf, why are they coming straight at us? After a while they turned and went away. I guess they just wanted to check us out. It is a no man’s land out here and boats could do whatever they want, but I guess it’s just not common. Or, who knows. No one on this boat has read anything or checked on anything. John talks to other yachties though, so in general I think it’s safe. In general.

12 March 2009, 5:59am Thursday - Day 9 at sea on the passage to Maldives, 282 miles to go.

I've thought many times on this journey, how exhilarating it is to be sailing across the Indian Ocean. It's a reminder of how big and daunting things seem when you are far away from them, but then seem so obvious, so safe when you're in them, living them. When I think back to all the warnings and fear that people expressed to me and how much of it I believed myself, it seems more frightening that I could have let fears like those prevent me from doing something like this. It's amazing out here and I'm certain the only way to understand what it's like to be propelled by the wind against sails across the Indian Ocean, is to be propelled by the wind against sails across the Indian Ocean.

We have had a couple of incidences with fishing boats approaching us where we initially flash on the possibility that they might be pirates. The first time it happened we'd been at sea a few days with no sign of life, just southeast of Sri Lanka, when a fishing boat came straight at us. It was momentarily nerve racking because it was the first time it happened, John was asleep, and they so aggressively come at our boat with men on deck, positioned to make contact with us. But they were Sri Lankan and were frantically waving fish in each hand, so their intent to sell us fish became obvious quickly. Yesterday, though, we were long past Sri Lanka, there were three wooden boats in the distant horizon and one approached us rapidly. The men looked African and were not waving fish so their intent was not clear. It is disconcerting how quickly their boats travel straight at us and how everyone aboard is on deck watching us. There's no use getting freaked, so we silently agreed to assume they're friendly and we waved. Eventually, they returned our waves and one man finally waved a single solitary fish, which nearly completely satisfied us that they were safe. When they passed and the second boat approached in the same manner, we joked that they were pirates and the first boat was radioing the second boat to say, "Affirmative. Sailboat is filled with a bunch of happy waving idiots. Wave a fish at them then proceed with abduction." We were laughing comfortably, but admitted these incidences (3 or 4 in 8 days) do remind us that we're out here in the open sea, not that far from pirate territory and we have no real protection. Then, Sacha noticed that when John had come up to check out the approaching boats, he'd quietly placed some sort of emergency flare device onto a bench in the cockpit. Maybe he was a little fazed.

Fat Bottomed Girls

22 April 2009 - Larnaca, Cyprus

I don’t even want to tell you how many doughnuts we ate in Lebanon….and Snickers and shawarmas and cokes. It is disgraceful. Obviously, I’m still fat. The plan was to use my time off to get healthy and hopefully a little leaner (remember the month long yoga retreat I cancelled in November?), but travel eating is impossible and now the objective is to not gain any more weight. Alyssa and I went running this morning, our first morning in Larnaca, and it gave me time to reflect on our downward spiral into gluttony. The 14 day sea passage to the Maldives left us starved for fresh fruits and vegetables, but as soon as we stepped foot on Gan (with our marshmallowy sea legs that hadn’t walked in two weeks), we discovered a land of chocolate milkshakes, iced Milos, and late night Snickers binges where we hatched our plan to hop on a new boat. We committed to morning runs and more fruits and vegetables just as soon as we arrived on Sybaris in Hurghada, Egypt (you can’t diet at the airport, right?). Elly’s gourmet cooking has helped us get some much needed nutrition, but we still plowed through the chaos of Egypt fueled by Snickers, Cokes and Egyptian pizza. Still, we weren’t eating doughnuts. I don’t know, there’s something just so gluttonous about doughnuts that it seems like once I’m eating them on an almost daily basis, I have most assuredly hit rock bottom. The problem in Lebanon was that the icafe was right next door to a Dunkin’ Donuts…the rest is history.

So the weight thing is just one of the millions of puzzle pieces that comes together and then gets lost again on this hiatus-travel journey. I don’t think much about it most of the time because we’re too busy having fun. At the same time, the nearly non-stop adventure tends to throw reality checks that hit like those sopping wet toilet paper balls kids throw at the ceiling of the bathrooms in school – they hit hard (glop), they stick, then are forgotten about until eventually they fall smack dab down on the floor (glop part II). I know this lifestyle isn’t healthy and I’m at an age now where health really starts to matter…and I need to get a grip on the eating-exercise-health thing. Soon…I promise myself…soon. Just not now. But one of the many things that is nice about traveling, is that things move too quickly to feel inadequate about anything…and people are interested in us and our crazy adventure…and I never cross paths with those people who silently judge me and take inventory of my status in life based on silly things like career, wealth, marriage, children, and most annoying of all…weight, which has always been a struggle for me. So for now, Alyssa and I are trying to turn a new leaf and do more yoga, run in the mornings, eat fruit instead of Snickers, etc, but we reserve the right eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and have a blast no matter what the size of our knickers.

“Ohhhhh…and you give it all you’ve got,

fat bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round”


Sacha's Socks

23 April 2009 - Larnaca, Cyprus. Photo taken on 8th March 2009 on the 14 day sea passage from the Andaman Islands (India) to the Maldives. Sacha's socks hanging out to dry after getting saturated in a sudden rainstorm drenched the cockpit.

I've finally found a great coffee place with strong wifi access (for the not-so-low price of €12 per day), but the problem is I'm freezing to death. Air conditioning. Ugh.

One of the many adorable things about Sacha, our Swiss crew mate on the sea passage to the Maldives, was that he got cold easily and had this great pair of hand-knitted rainbow coloured socks he bought in Nepal (where he travelled before we met him in India). He would wear them during his nightwatch. Then when we got to Gan (Maldives), the icafe had air-conditioning so he'd bring a long sleeve t-shirt and his rainbow socks to keep warm. I wish I had those socks with me now. Brrrrr.

Sacha was a fastidious character who didn't like me very much, or very often, but we had some good times on that boat and I miss him. On our good days he taught Alyssa and me to play chess, took great photos, affixed clothes pins to secure the curtain that blocked our cabin, and gave me his shoulder to cry on when I had a little crisis in the Maldives. After all the highs and lows had passed, he took us out for farewell drinks our last night in Gan and it was really said to say goodbye.

Sheiban & the Red Bull Air Race

6th April 2009 - Cairo, Egypt...Alyssa and Sheiban at some pizza place close to the National Museum.

Remember the guy we met in the lobby of the New Garden Palace Hotel in Cairo? He was on his way to Abu Dhabi to blog for the Red Bull Air Race. Well, he made it and I just noticed he ranked #1 as Red Bull Air Race Top Writers. Congratulations, Sheiban! Check out his bio which includes links to his recent articles on the race. Facebook tells me Sheiban is back at home in Toronto and posting pictures of his travels.

Sheiban took us to a great Egyptian pizza place in Cairo (and we went back the next day for lunch....creatures of habit). We had a great time trading crazy-Egypt-travel stories. There were two American girls sitting next to us in the tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant, sisters who'd been travelling together for several months. One was an ex-banker like me, but she got some killer cush severance package from...Lehman I think it was. No fair! She is going back to school in the fall to do something more humanitarian than banking (what could possibly be more humanitarian than banking?). I've met very few Americans on this trip and even fewer ex-bankers (I think she was the first and only) it was fun to cross their path.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

pathetic blogger

We're settling in Cyprus and I came to the icafe armed with a flash drive with lots to post...but the computer won't read the flash drive so all I can do is direct you to Elly's blog. She's a great, timely blogger and a really talented photographer so go enjoy her photos. You'll get to see the man who stole my heart in Lebanon - Elly refers to him as "the PR man" at the yacht club, but his name is Elie and he showered me with affection and a gigantic tray of bahklava to sustain us through the sea passage. Lots of funny stories to tell. One of these days I'll post it all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

see ya shawarma laterrrr

Hey Y'ALL !!! (I love when Ali says that !!)

It's Alyssa here and I am having a sook about leaving such a cool town even though if I stay I will look like an industrial size baklava !!! Ali and I have had a ball and after a fix on deliciously rich Turkish coffee and a super sugar sweet brekky, we are off sailing to Cypress !!!!!! Ali and I were thinking of hijacking the boat so we could stay here longer, but Per and Elly are such lovely people that we wouldn't dare do such a thing !!! See y'all in Cypress...

Leaving Lebanon :(

I'm on wifi on the boat in the marina and can't get my email to work. This blog post is for my parents and Alyssa's parents. (Nikki, please send an email to "Ma & Pa Flint" to let them know it's here.)

Mom, Dad, Alyssa's Mum & Dad,

The good news is...we will be motoring out of the marina in the next two hours, safe and sound after a wonderful ten days in Lebanon. The even better news (to us) is that we are seriously thinking about returning to Beirut in May. I know y'all have been worried about us but we have had such a good time and we're not sure how our travel plans will play out in May so it could be really convenient to return. We've met so many kind and generous people here and we didn't have enough time to see all the sights. Surprisingly, we are both trying to learn the history too and would like to come back to learn from the locals. We will keep you posted.

Elly promises that Cyprus will be more relaxed so hopefully we will start blogging about all the fun we've had here. In the mean time, be sure to check out Elly's blog for great photos. Alyssa and I burned some midnight oil too, in addition to those day we have many many stories to tell (which may be more appropriate in emails, but we shall see. Lots of photos to share too.)

Okay, I better post before I lose wifi. We love y'all and promise to continue to keep each other [relatively] safe. Miss you!

Ali [& Alyssa who is busy readying the boat for our departure]


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sushi for Beginners

I have not been blogging from Lebanon because I am too overwhelmed by everything that happens to us nearly everyday. It is just like this sushi spread - so plentiful and rich and delicious and so many pieces. I don't know where to begin and I want to tell you everything at once. Alyssa and I have written pages and pages of journals and letters, but there is I am going to start slowly, like with the sushi, one piece at a time...and try to capture all the amazing things that have happened on the trip.

But not right now.

I'll just say about that sushi tray...that it was our dinner on a luxury motor yacht in a marina in the heart of Beirut. We were guests of a boisterous, generous and kind Saudi guy, Momo, who let us join him for his 41st birthday celebration (which went for three days on his yacht, I think). Long story on how we found ourselves in his company, but it has to do with Per and Elly being super cool and social...and a random favour they did for another yachtie in Greece two years ago. More on that guy later.

Momo had a personality like esspresso and conversation with him was like riding a roller coaster. He was filled with great parables from his father and lots of philosphy on religion and world affairs from his perspective as a Saudi Sunni Muslim living in Lebanon (I'm sorry to say he hasn't been back to the US since 9/11). He's a party boy so the conversation flowed faster than the laurent perrier rose he indulged us. It was all so crazy...and so long ago that we've eaten about a dozen more pieces of adventure-sushi since then.

But I'm delivering these vignettes one bite at a time, so keep your chopsticks out....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Byblos by the Sea

13 April 2009 - Byblos, Lebanon Alyssa, Elly, Per and I took a taxi up to Byblos yesterday to see the souks and the ruins. This photo was taken by two nice American men, Terry and Dave, who work in Beirut training the police force. One of their wives was with them yesterday - she's visiting for just a couple of weeks. It was great to meet Americans because there aren't many tourist here these days. Terry & David told us Lebanon is on the US State Department's do-not-travel list - which I kinda figured it would be but decided not to check myself. It's such is a shame about the danger because the country is beautiful and the people are so nice and welcoming.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lots of fun in Lebanon

Check out Elly's blog for photos of what we did yesterday. Her blog is great!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Beirut by Boat

We're here! It's a beautiful city and arriving by boat was spectacular. Lots to see and do...Per lived here as a child so we're making our way around today finding his old home and school. I had a tiny little mishap with the military...they detained me and confiscated my camera for "five minutes" which eventually lead to them deleting about a dozen photos I took of Per's childhood neighborhood. One particularly questionable photo was of the word "happines" emblazoned across the top of a nursery school. I can see where they'd consider me a big threat;) After the incident, we ate delicious schwarmas and I indulged in an avacado ice cream cone. It was quite good. This is a beautiful, vibrant city and I hope to post lots of photos soon.

Arrival at the Marina in Lebanon

Here we are after a 2 day sea passage to Lebanon. This boat is so comfortable we actually had hot showers and were well rested for the arrival.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Amid the Pyramids

Another day in Cairo...
We made our way to the pyramids this morning and had a great time, despite the constant harassment to relinquish all our cash. The tourist attractions in Egypt are a spawning ground for one scam after another, but I like to think we fared well. We negotiated to ride horses around the pyramids, but after ten minutes Alyssa decided it was too cruel, the horses aren’t properly cared for. It turned into a massive ordeal since the guides are major scammers and we both got cross with Abdul, calling him a bully…but we prevailed in not paying the fee. Wandering the pyramids, I kept thinking of my six year old nephew, Jonny, who is an archeologist. He would have loved climbing down the tunnel into he pyramids to see the tombs. It was hot, dusty, dank and the smell was quite bad…but we’re used to just about anything now that we’ve become sea creatures. Last night we were eating fruit in the hotel room and I started to get up to throw the banana peel out the window since on a boat food goes overboard. Last night we suffered through the cheesiest tourist trap even ever: a Nile River dinner cruise. It was unbearable, bad buffet, karaoke-esque singers and cigarette smoke suffocating us on deck. It was nice to float down the Nile, and we had quite a laugh watching the other tourists…I sat facing a group of young American couples (one guy wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “this shirt is business casual”) passing their digital cameras around showing pictures of themselves in front of the pyramids…while the singer sang bad renditions of unknown pop music and one sole guest, a quite large happy older woman, decided to bust a move on the dance floor. It was like being at a really bad wedding of people you don’t know, but with no cake. Today we met a guy in the lobby of our hotel, Sheiban from Toronto, who is a blogger on his way to Abu Dhabi to cover the Red Bull Air Race (check out his blog). Can you believe people get paid for this? How cool.

We have decided to stay in Cairo another night so we’re going to meet Per & Elly in Port Said tomorrow…unless they are delayed due to another warship. We expect to head to Lebanon the day after tomorrow, I think…and we should be there ten days.

Pyramids on Picasa

I've posted a few more pics on a new Picasa album (click to view). More to come!

Cool Russian Guy and the Sphinx

This guy was hilarious and we took lots of fun pics of him with his camera. He was Russian and bonded with Alyssa of that (I'll have to get the story of her heritage later). The random guy who took this photo asked us our nationalities - Australian, Russian, American - and said "this photo for United Nations."

Fellow tourist friends...

I was so scarred by the scammers that when this lovely woman asked us to pose for a photo with her husband, I said "okay but no money." She started laughing. After we posed with him, a stranger offered to photograph the four of us... and I cringed that he would accost us after. He didn't, so the world still seems like a pretty good place to me.

Crazy Camel Guy

Crazy camel guy told us we could take a photo for no money or, he told us, "as you wish." I offered him one Egyptian pound (about 25 US cents) for the photo shoot, which he accepted before I took the photo. After I took the photo he insisting on giving me back my Egyptian pound and told me he wanted a euro or US dollar...then yelled at us when we refused. Oh happy Egypt.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

After the Nile River Dinner Cruise

bummed and fifty u.s. dollars poorer

Before the Nile River Dinner Cruise

still happy

Sunset on the Suez Canal

Alyssa's Blogger Debut

Luckily one of us has her act together enough to write a blog post. Thanks, Alyssa!

Blog entry from Alyssa Webb:

Hey there everyone !!! I’ve decided to do a little contribution to Ali’s cool blog and hijack it for a bit. We are both having a fantastic time painting the places red… or pink… or yellow… anyway… whatever… in each place we have been to. We have both been really fortunate to have a great and successful journey so far with the worst thing to happen being a rotten egg encounter whilst on the 13 day sea passage in the galley. To make a long story short… rotten eggs are just so SO incredibly horrible, rank and NASTY and that was a real test to our ‘we haven’t been sea sick yet’ statement. *touches wood* We still haven’t been sea sick yet… (Yikes ! Probably shouldn’t say that !!) Sailing from Hurgarda to Port Suez was a big test as we encountered up to 30 knots of wind and big waves !! It was a rough journey but it was pretty cool to be air bourn whilst sleeping !!! Yeeee HARRR !!!
Anyway… I won’t ramble on too much as my ramble isn’t anywhere near as interesting as Ali’s ramble. But below are a few things I have learnt on my travel adventures so far:

  • The best toilet is your own toilet at home !!
  • You don’t understand and appreciate the full effort required to produce one cup of coffee until you are on a sail boat, heeled over, rocking away, going up and down with the waves, balancing everything, trying to light the moving stove, not to burn yourself whilst pouring boiling water into the cup, ignoring the roaches, trying to walk back into the cockpit and not to spill your liquid gold all over the place.
  • No matter where I am and how bumpy and noisy the place might be, I sleep like a baby.
  • When you have been at sea for two weeks, in order to feel like a million dollars, all you have to do is wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner. I could have been a model for Pantine !!!
  • No matter how much you think you can kill your chocolate addiction, you really can’t !! Don’t kid yourself !
  • No matter how crummy you feel, seeing a pod of dolphins swim along and play at the bow really makes your day and brings a smile to your face.
  • One of the best birthday presents a friend could give you is doing the job of scooping toilet water out of the broken toilet bowl. (I’ll never forget it Ali !!)
  • Thunder storms are still scary… even at 23 years of age !!
  • You never get sick of seeing breathtaking magical sunsets and you never get your arse into get to get out of bed to witness a sunrise !
  • Seeing the stars of the Southern Cross in the night sky makes me really happy.
  • I could never sail by myself. I love the company of others.
  • I never get tired of drinking iced milos… mmmmmm… milos…
  • You can never take too many pictures.
  • There is no dotted equator line in the ocean marking the southern and northern hemispheres. Disappointing !
  • When you think you are going crazy when you reach the doldrums, you really are ! But it is fun to let it happen and be silly and laugh. There is always another nutter with you on your wavelength.
  • Playing chess is fun.
  • Write a ‘quote of the day’ each day.
  • You can’t have too much leave-in conditioner ! My hair is like having a high maintenance girl/boy friend.
  • Seeing waves break makes me really really excited !!!
  • Fresh fruit is just awesome.
  • No matter how much it costs, it is totally worth while to pay to get your laundry done once and a while. And once you get it back from the cleaners you will sit and smell your clothes for ten minutes and you won’t feel like a weirdo because it is just soooo good to have REAL clean clothes !! (And you have a friend who is doing the same thing as you !!)
  • You get tired and sleepy from doing absolutely nothing all day.
  • No matter how much you lie around waiting for the next coconut to drop, it NEVER drops !
  • If you want to get anywhere fast, don’t let Ali and Alyssa row you in a dinghy !
  • I love falling asleep at night on deck listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.
  • You can never ignore the voice inside your head telling you to have a second helping and it doesn’t matter if your pants don’t fit !
  • When you haven’t seen any other form of human life in days, it is really exciting to see another boat or ship !!
  • You never tire of seeing all the massive cargo ships ! They are so wickedly cool !!! Not to mention BIG !!!
  • You CAN take control and manifest your destiny.
  • Getting e-mails from your parents is really exciting and wonderful. Friends too !!!
  • You always see something new when you snorkel.
  • Sea lice are HORRIBLE creatures !!! So are mosquitoes and flies !!
  • Ali and I are really good at washing dishes.
  • Bank fees from withdrawing money overseas SUCK!
  • From the small parts of the world I have seen, the world is a truly beautiful place. There are no ugly parts of the world. It’s the people that create the ugly parts.
  • When you haven’t seen any human life form for four days and you have been stuck on a deserted island, you’re never intimidated to talk to anyone once back in civilization.
  • Check the weather BEFORE you arrive to your next destination. Don’t sit on Facebook writing on your friend’s wall random stuff (who is sitting next to you anyway!) CHECK THE WEATHER !!
  • Samosas and chai are just sooooo good!
  • I love the Indian head wiggle !!!!
  • Always have a photo of your parents and animals with you.
  • Sunshine + sailing + chocolate + good company = HAPPINESS !!
  • When all else fails, just laugh……… and laugh and laugh and laugh until you are in so much pain !!! It’s just the best !!!

    I have decided I am going to circumnavigate the world twice one day… soon I hope… I have it all planned out. My boat will be called either Burli, Byron or Burleigh. Not too sure yet. It will have a navy blue hull and have frangipanis painted next to the name. I have my map planned out with destinations I want to go to and I want to sail to the surfing season (so I don’t miss the waves this time!!) Positions seeking: chef, yoga instructor, person trainer (to kick my lazy ass into gear), general shitty jobs person, a sailboat know it all, a musical person, a comedian and cool people in general. Anyone interested………………… ???? Apply within to Captain Alyssa. J

Alyssa in Tawila

Ships on the Suez

Photos do not capture how incredible it is to see the tankers go by. It seriously never gets can watch for hours. I think Elly sneaked a photo of the warships so I'll try to post those one day.

Ali in Tawila

Per & Elly on the Suez Canal

Per & Elly have a DREAM boat (Sybaris of London)...and they're super cool...and she's an amazing cook. Check out their websites and blogs...I will try to post the links on my site for easy access.

Tankers on the Suez...

Elly on the Suez Canal

Saturday, April 4, 2009

In Ismailia, making our way up the Suez Canal

We've been making our way up the Suez Canal the past few days and having a great time. The only thing nicer than this boat is the owners of this boat! Per and Elly have been taking such good care of us and showing us through the canal. The Canal is endless flow of giant tankers and warships going through quite narrow passages at times. Alyssa and I have taken a gazillion photos and we have plans to make massive Picasa albums of all the ships to bore you all to death. We get excited each and every time another ship goes by...or fishing boat, catamaran or sailboat for that matter. Another really cool thing about Elly and Per is that they know lots of people and have everyone over for coffee or drinks. We've met so many people we can't even keep track - but we're planning to make a list of that too.

One total bummer is that I slept through most of the way from Port Suez to Ismailia this morning...I've had a terrible cold for at least two days. We had a pilot on board for the 6 hour journey that started at 6am today and I couldn't quite handle the cigarette smoke with my cold induced headache. In case anyone misses my hyper sensitivity to fragrance and smoke - have no fear it's still in effect.

What else can I tell you? Well, one funny thing is the reaction I get for being an American in Egypt. On arrival in Hurghada, the taxi driver was appalled to learn I was from the States and spent the entire ride telling us he can feel in his heart how much he hates George Bush. He was happy to hear I lived in London and wanted to focus on that since he likes the UK. The guy who assisted us during our time at Port Suez, was a funny, friendly guy, but when I said I'm American he joked that was going to have to kill me. Later, when he noticed I had a terrible cold, he gave me grief for being near him (a man after my own heart, I loathe contagious cold sufferers too). He kindly invited us to go into town to meet his mother, then looked at me and said, "but after-" and he mimed slashing his throat from ear to ear. This, for exposing him to my cold? Nice. We were delayed a day in Port Suez, couldn't leave because they hold the boats to let the warships go through the canal. Our friend, still at it, blamed it on me, said I made a call to George Bush to send the warship through. Luckily, the contempt for my American status is offset by everyone's love of Alyssa. Not only is "Australia our friend" but everyone always takes to Alyssa...she's the perfect travel mate. Of coure, we'll be lucky to get her out of Egypt without a husband;)

Photography by Elly Kjellqvist
(The dodgy icafe won't read our flash drive so I had to steal the photo from Elly's blog)