The day for the kiwi crew began like any other, heading to the field at first light to shoot in and analyze artefacts as per usual. However, the rest of the day was to be anything but ordinary. Field work finished up at 1pm and we headed back to the dig house for a hasty download. Today we headed to the Valley of the Whales for a night under the stars.
The planned 2pm get-away soon turned into a 3.30 as the download went astray with ArcGIS licenses not behaving as they should. Following some hasty packing by Haman we hastened off to the valley with BBQ, food, drink and two trucks filled with people.
The ride was going relatively smoothly right up until we acquired our second and third police men. Technically this was not the biggest deal in the world, except for the fact that we literally had no room. At all. After some repacking we managed to squeeze the second policeman on top of our first policeman’s lap and the third policeman next to Josh, with his head poking out through the sunroof.
The ride continued relatively smoothly up until the police barricade, at which we spent 35 minutes debating with the policemen. The plan had originally been to arrive before sundown, however, as plans often do in Egypt, this changed as we got more and more delayed.
Finally we arrived at the valley as the sun disappeared, and we set about locating our campsite. This involved driving around in a very large circle for quite some time before the ranger rescued us and showed us to our camping location. Whilst we could not see all that much due to the darkness, we could see that the stars were amazing, there was nobody else around and that our campsite was absolutely perfect!
For the past year a plan has been in action to create the perfect situation for a proposal. And as it transpires, this perfect situation was on this eve. Several of the team had been roped into to transporting champagne, gifts and other celebratory items and everyone was in on creating the perfect situation. Everyone except for Rebecca. So Josh took the opportunity to take a “walk” with Rebecca and the rest of us began preparations back at the camp for their return. Several minutes later and preparations were complete and we awaited their return.
Soon they returned. With news to make a good night great.
She said yes!
The champagne was poured and the nights frivolities started in earnest.
After a toast and some further drinking we set out our sleeping arrangements whilst Haman began cooking up our dinner feast. Chicken, kofta, chilies, eggplant… Dinner was consumed under the sterling sky by the light of the BBQ and a small fire. A perfect end to an amazing day, and the perfect start to an amazing night!
From this point on the evening was dedicated to stargazing and chatting until midnight at which stage even the hardiest of the party-makers crashed out beneath the perfect skies.
Waking time was at sunrise to the X Files theme music, a great start to the day. The rest of the day was to be dedicated to packing up the campsite, exploring for geo-caches and walking the trails of whale remains in the valley.
The first of the geo-caches was located 200m or so to the side of our campsite. Some slightly dodgy GPS points led us up a steep slope, around several corners and back down the same slope to no avail. Matt then decided that it was time to take off a few of his extra layers and so he disappeared behind some rocks to change, in the process, stumbling upon the cache.
From here the group split in half, several of the members pursuing the geo-caches located on the ridge of the valley whilst the rest of us walked the whale-trail!
The whale-trail is a truly amazing experience. Out in the middle of the desert, with sand in every direction and then, all of a sudden, whale bones! Vertebrae, jaws, limbs as well as fossilized remains of mangroves, turtles and all manner of other burrowing creatures!
The walk itself took some 2 hours to complete and by the end of it we were all ready for home time. We returned to the trucks, piled in and set back off towards the dig house, thankful for the amazing experience of the last day and night, but ready for a well earned sleep before returning to the field in the morning.