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Camping In Paradise: What is One of the Most Memorable Camping Trips You've Been On? (Part II)

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

This post includes a unique camping story that took place many years ago. It's unique because of the area where we camped -- it was disputed land between Egypt and Israel which allowed us to camp without any fees. It was a camping event that I had never experienced before and never since. Hope you enjoy the piece.

From our Kibbutz in Israel, Claudia and I moved on to Eilat, a city at the northern tip of the Red Sea and the Southernmost point in Israel. While in Eilat, I worked behind the scenes washing dishes which exposed me to no one except the occasional yelling by the owner because I wasn't working fast enough washing dishes (he had no idea how much practice I've had over the years washing dishes). Claudia surprisingly got a job as a waitress. It didn't seem equitable that she got to earn extra money with her beauty and personality and I was a shut-in washing dishes. Eilat was international which meant English was spoken everywhere and laid-back town that allowed travelers to pick up odd jobs to supplement their travel expenses.

While working and enjoying Eilat, we heard of a place called Taba, some 12 kilometers south of Eilat that had beautiful beaches and a good place to visit. We also heard this area politically was a disputed territory between Israel and Egypt, which meant visitors to Taba could camp on the beach for free. The best view from the beach and free sleeping!

According to Wikipedia, most of the Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982, however, Taba was not returned to Egypt until 1989. Thank God for my green Eureka tent that slept two comfortably which Claudia and I called home for about 7 weeks in early '83. There were outdoor showers and plenty of fresh water and public toilets so what more could you ask for? Every day, Claudia would remove the sleeping bags, mattress pads, backpacks, stove, and other miscellaneous camping gear and then proceed to force the sand granules from inside our tent to the outside.

Every 3rd day, we'd head into town by bus, hitch-hiking, or walking. We stocked up on bread, wine, fruit, cheese, soup,

every 3 days or so to stock up for the next several days. Because this area was disputed, bus service was unavailable. So we'd either hitchhike or walk or do both to get our necessary supplies. There was nothing in between Eilat and Taba so drivers coming from Taba, for the most part, knew we were from Taba and just needed to get to town for work, fun, entertainment, or grocery staples. In terms of where we'd end up getting into town while hitchhiking, with an attractive female, we rarely had to draw straws. I'd typically end up in the cargo area and she'd be in the cab.

Getting back to Taba, we'd make meals right on the beach with my portable steno stove. When not cooking, our sustenance consisted of dried fruits and nuts, fresh fruits, bread, and cheese. Claudia would often claim this was paradise and I would typically show my joy based on my facial expression. Our only expense for that time was food, which allowed us to stay longer than we had originally planned. We met fellow beach compadres that owned snorkeling equipment which allowed me to snorkel my maiden voyage. I've since snorkeled parts of Florida, Key West, Hawaii, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands and my experience at the time in the Red Sea Gulf still resonates with me as the prettiest and most incredible reefs and corals I've ever seen in nature.

Decades before mobile devices and computers, we still never got bored. With about 360 days of sun a year, we rarely saw a cloud. We had plenty of friends to hang out with, books to read and reread, as much fun as we wanted, walking on the beach, and enjoying the tropics. There were some well-traveled individuals we got to know, sometimes swapping stories about a given city or site. Surprisingly, not once in those 7 weeks did I ever see any issues or conflicts with anyone on the beach.

We'd go swimming early every other morning as others were still in the process of wiping sleep from their eyes after a night lying on the sand. The Gulf of the Red Sea rarely had cool or cold water temperatures. Even though the salty water got old sometimes, fresh and free outdoor showers were nearby.

I initially thought the "Law of Diminishing Returns" would come into play here. You know, someone gives you a Frango mint and you think it's the best mint ever. You have another and it's great but not the best mint ever. The third mint is still great but no other comments. As you consume more and more candy the returns from each subsequent time will be diminished. The weird thing, I didn't think for the most part the "Law of Diminishing Returns" applied for the majority of our 50 days in paradise. It didn't seem like the next week was any inferior to the last. To be fair, after about 50 days the appeal wears off but still, it took a lot of consumption time before that occurred.

It was a little short of two months on Taba that we decided to move on. Not sure whose decision that was as it was never going to get any better than this. Regardless, we decided to travel and little more and see the Sinai and eventually Egypt before heading back to Europe.

One more tidbit about Taba, once we were tired of paradise, we decided to travel through the Sinai Peninsula on our way to Egypt's capital. Luck would have it that the border checkpoint was no more than 1 kilometer away.


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