This morning we woke up to the most awesomely romantic news… Last night Davidoff Cool Water’s Coolest Couple winner Chad organised a candlelit dinner for his blonde sweetheart Lera and proposed. (Of course she accepted!) The two hadn’t seen each other in months, as Lera was visiting her family in the Ukraine, so Chad had decided that COSMO SUMMER’s exotic adventure was the ideal opportunity to propose to his four-year long girlfriend. Kind of sad though, because they’re leaving at the end of the week and won’t see other until October. But congratulations nonetheless guys!
And I’m happy to report the day only got more memorable. It was time to head into the desert to explore Intercontinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort’s Bedouin-experience encampment, Fustat. Thankfully we didn’t have to brave the mountain bikes parked outside the front entrance – an air conditioned bus was at our disposal.
A plain clothes’ army officer Khaleed had also been appointed to accompany us – Egyptians take the safety of their tourists very seriously and in Cairo there’s even a special police force to keep an eye on us fumbling foreigners. Khaleed assured me his presence was just a precaution though, but I was hoping for a free helicopter ride, as he also informed me that we’d be airlifted out in an army helicopter if anything went wrong.
But nothing could go wrong as the only living things in the Eastern Desert we traversed were five lonely trees. Curtis and I decided to dub our trip a ‘tree safari’ – we decided that being lucky enough to spot a hardy desert tree was akin to spotting one of the Big Five. But our arid safari was quickly shoved from our minds when we swept into the mountainous valley of Fustat. Tucked up against one mountain was a stunning stone amphitheatre surrounded by thick walls and castle turrets. It had been constructed from the mountain’s rocks, explained The Palace’s senior PR officer, Ramona Rack. Inside there were terraces, where on designated nights, guests could enjoy the snaking hips of belly dancers and other entertainers while lounging on deep cushions and indulging in a feast fit for a pharoah.
Amazingly, this entire area is safeguarded by a Bedouin clan – the once-nomadic clan had settled here with their camels and goats. We were introduced to the clan’s newest member, a baby camel, who moaned incessantly at our presence and tried to tuck into model Maritza Veer’s blonde locks when she cautiously posed next to him. We were then invited to try a Bedouin speciality, gabana (coffee). It’s made out of a green, caffeine-less desert herb and is mixed with cinnamon and other herbs in a tin container over an open fire. It tastes like an incredibly pungent coffee and was a delicious accompaniment to a mesmerizing desert sunset.