As soon as we leave the resort area and head away from Sinai‘s coast, it feels like stepping back in time. The roadside is lined with barren mountains populated by a few Bedouins and their camels.
Occasionally, we do pass a small village. Sometimes the homes are constructed of cement block and corrugated steel. Sometimes it is a collection of tents.
We also pass a through a number police checkpoints, probably the most prevalent sign of human settlement in this mostly empty landscape. Each checkpoint is staffed by an array of bored-looking guards.
But mostly what we see are rocky, barren hillsides and an occasional acacia tree. It is a harsh land, but not without beauty. The hillsides change color as we travel – bits of the rainbow locked in stone.
We make one stop along the way, a scenic overlook with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The scene includes a Bedouin village far off in the distance.
I can also see tiny dots that seem to be moving.
Indeed, a small group of children are running toward us with bags slung over their shoulders.
It doesn’t take long for them to reach us.