Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mersa Dudu, Eritrea - Red Sea

March 3 – 5, 2008

After two nights at sea we arrived at our first Red Sea anchorage, Mersa Dudu.  High volcanic peaks poked out from an otherwise barren landscape.  The wind accelerated through these peaks and into the anchorage, resulting in more wind inside the anchorage than out!  The anchorage was still comfortable, with now real chop, but loud with 25kts whistling through our rigging.

I had read some compare the landscape of Mersa Dudu to the moon.  I didn’t see it.  To me it is the desert plain and simple – isolated, dry, and brown.  Then again I’ve never been to the moon.

Ironically we hadn’t really given much thought to where we were going to be – it was always just “the Red Sea”.  It wasn’t until Mersa Dudu that it dawned on us that we were actually in Africa, the place I’d wanted to visit since I was a kid.  Another continent, another country.  For us this was when we truly realized that the Red Sea would not be some place to speed through but rather a place to explore.  Later we acknowledged that there were two types of cruisers traversing through – those that would just go-go-go, perhaps only considering Egypt as any type of real destination, using the Red Sea merely as a highway, the anchorages as pit stops, and those that saw the Red Sea (and its many anchorages/countries) as a destination in itself.  Who would take the time to see and explore.  The other great thing about our realization was that we finally remembered that we have a Lonely Planet Guide for Africa!  All this time we thought we’d just have to wing it, but all of a sudden Chris looks in our big shelf and says “hey this is where we are!”

Not that we really need Lonely Planet to tell us that we were currently in “an inhospitable volcanic and rock desert” or that this area was “desolate and harsh in the extreme”.  Still it was fun to learn that we were currently in a region reputed to be one of the hottest places on earth!

We spent three days in Mersa Dudu, mostly waiting for better weather.  Regrettably Chris and I both came down with something (most likely food poisoning) and spent a large portion of our time sick as dogs and unable to go ashore.

Our friends hiked to the top of one of the smaller volcanic peaks, which offered great views over the bays (photo right by Stardust).  On our third day Chris was healthy enough to at least go ashore and do some beach & rock walking.

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