THE police were looking for five cars along a lonely stretch of desert road and, well, here were five cars. The license plates did not match the ones they were looking for, but there were five cars — so the police detained the convoy.
“Egypt really is a logic-free zone,” said Amr Shannon, the desert guide whose five-car caravan was released after an officer finally acknowledged the obvious.
The point here is not to embarrass the police at the checkpoint. It is, instead, to illustrate one of the first pieces of advice Mr. Shannon gives before taking tourists to some of the most beautiful and isolated destinations ranging across Egypt’s desert landscape.
After more than three decades of introducing thousands of tourists to the thrill of Egypt’s unique and sprawling deserts, Mr. Shannon is planning to retire in the fall. Equal parts adventurer and philosopher — Indiana Jones meets Yoda — he is now helping to teach a new generation of guides not just to showcase Egypt’s natural beauty but also to behave as a life coach. Guides must know when to intervene (when the tires are buried deep in sand, for example) and when to fade into the background, so guests can experience the buzzing silence of the open desert.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
New York Times (Michael Slackman)
Thanks to Kat for this piece, which combines an account of travel in the desert with the story of how the guide who lead that particular tour came to be a desert tour guide, and what that kind of life is like. If you are asked to log in, type egyptnews in both fields.