Happy April’s Fools Day!
This is our fourth day at sea since leaving Salalah, Oman last Saturday evening. The trip has been uneventful and the weather has been great. The temperatures have been in the low to mid 80’s until today. Last night we lost another hour as we set our clocks back again. We are now only seven hour ahead of EDT. As a result of the extra hour, I was awake early enough to watch the sun as it quickly rose above the horizon. As I stepped onto our veranda, it was noticeably cooler and the humidity was much lower than it had been. Surprisingly, although the weather is wonderful, the temperature has remained in the low 70’s with a brisk wind of about 30-40 mph. With the ship heading into the wind at about 20 mph, it makes for a bit of effort to even walk the deck.
Old Sol, peeking over the horizon of the Red Sea.
This photo was taken exactly 2 minutes and 20 seconds later. It was completely clear of the horizon!
As I mentioned in a previous post, the captain kept us parallel to the Yemen coast, staying about 70 miles at sea until Monday morning when we made a sharp change of direction from west to north as we approached the Bab-el-Mandeb or “Gateway of tears” strait. This is the strategic link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. The distance across the strait is about 20 miles from Ras Menheil in Yemen to Ras Siyyan id Djibouti. The captain maintained a relatively high speed of about 27 mph along the Yemen coast and continued with this speed until we were past Yemen and alongside Saudi Arabia around 5:00 PM. Since then we have been at a more leisurely 18-20 MPH, but the seas have become a little rougher with the high winds.
I have been rather disappointed in the fact that we have seen so few ships during our Red Sea passage. I have to attribute this to the fact that the left and right ship lanes are separated by several miles and ships traveling in our direction are probably moving at about the same speed as we are.
We are current on schedule to reach Al Aqaba, Jordan on time tomorrow morning. We will be in the Gulf of Aqaba for several hours since it is approximately 100 miles in length, unfortunately we will not be entering it until around midnight. The Gulf of Aqaba is a large gulf at the northern tip of the Red Sea, east of the Sinai Peninsula and west of the Arabian mainland. Its coastline is divided between four countries: Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The city of Al Aqaba is the largest city on the Gulf and from here we have a full day excursion to the lost city Petra.
Petra, the Rose Red City. (photo of The Treasury, taken from the internet).
We are very much looking forward to our excursion to Petra and I have spent today pretty much resting. We expect a minimum of 5 miles of walking tomorrow, just on the tour, but I know it will be worth the effort!
Petra is a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan, as well as Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah (identified by some as the biblical Mount Hor) in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.
The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. Petra was chosen by the Smithsonian Magazine as one of the "28 Places to See before You Die".
After our visit I hope to have more information to share about this special place. By the way, it was here that Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones movie, “The Last Crusade” was filmed.
At dinner tonight, when we opened our menus they were all blank. Ali and Leika had a good laugh with their April fool’s joke on us. After replacing our menus with the “real” ones and we had an opportunity to make our decisions, Ali came by to take our orders. I was the last one to order and when he asked what I would like, I told him I wanted the pickle pig’s feet. With a straight face, after I repeated the request for the third time, he realized the joke. He laughed so hard he had a difficult time actually taking my order. They guys are great and we will really miss not just the attentive service they provide, but their great personalities as well when the cruise comes to an end.
Until tomorrow, or whenever I am able to make the next post!