A Gallop in the Sinai
by Lyn Macready
A gallop into the Sinai vs the last of the Romanoff’s.
I was in Egypt as a part of a travelling scholarship. I had visited Cairo Hospital and an aid organization in a village just outside Cairo. Here I met an English woman who had her left shoulder and right wrist in plaster. She’d had a fall from her horse, which she kept in stables near the pyramids. She was driving out to visit the filly, so my son, Daniel and I accompanied her on our way back to Cairo.
An old Bedouin who bred Arab thoroughbreds owned the stables. Within the time it took us to visit the horse, Daniel had arranged to go riding in the desert and the Bedouin was already saddling up three horses. He explained that we were going into the Sinai and then riding out of the desert to the Pyramids and Sphinx — a far more exciting way to see the pyramids, he explained. This argument had merit as the ancient wonders are practically in Cairo now that the city has expanded into what has become the suburb of Giza.
Our new friend agreed that it would be a great ride (and why would I believe someone with such obvious horse injury?) and we’d be perfectly safe with old Shrem who had worked for the British during WW2. She’d pick us up at Giza and we’d go to the Meena House for drinks. King Farook’s palace had been turned into an up market hotel and watering hole for expats.
I looked at the horses. Mine was a pretty little mare who looked sweet enough. Arabs are not big horses but they are spirited and I tried to talk my way out of this desert adventure. I didn’t like the look of the saddle either. It was English and lacked the Australian stock saddle’s deep seat, high pommel and cantle, the knee and thigh pads — all the things I considered necessary to make sure I remained in the saddle not on the turf or sand in this case.
Within moments of venturing into the desert, the boys — two stallions and two stupid men, broke into a canter which quickly became a gallop. I had envisaged a sedate walk or slow canter at most. I tried to rein in the little mare but she wasn’t having it, determined to keep up with the boys, she ignored me.
I wondered what the desert would be like to fall on, softish perhaps. I looked down. The sand was full of stones. Bloody hell, they have a Great Stony Desert here too. I determined to keep my seat at all costs. After I settled into the rhythm of the horse, I relaxed enough to realize how exhilarating it was. An adrenalin rush to die for — but I sincerely hoped I wouldn’t.
By the time the pyramids came into view I was laughing and even sorry our mad ride was ending. What a sight, coming out of the desert onto these iconic monuments. Not even a glimpse of Cairo city from this angle.
Still feeling the adrenaline rush, I was happy to sit in the big cane chair with my martini and drink in the enchantment of the fairytale Palace. We stayed on for dinner and Danny (ever quick to see an exciting opportunity) arranged with our now doubly plastered friend to visit the stables again the following day. While I did my work, he rode out with the old Bedouin every morning for the rest of our time in Egypt — one of the highlights of his life and to be honest, one of mine — right up there with a day spent riding around the Lakes of Kilarney, alone with nature and my very quiet horse.
© Lyn Macready 2017
Lyn Macready has spent many years working as a specialist nurse in the mental health care field. She has completed a novel set in India at the time of partition and is currently working on a non-fiction book for sufferers of bipolar called Swimming Through Treacle. She spends her time between Sydney and Toowoomba where she and Ric Macready run a B&B.
Lyn was a participant in Backstage Bali Writer’s retreat April 2017 and attended Writing in the Tarkine Wilderness with WJ in 2008.
Read other writer’s contributions here.
Next Writer’s Journey trips heading out:
Taste of Tibet, June 7–18, a 12 day creative tour for writers and artists.
Backstage Bali, Oct 14–21, seven days, mountains and ricefields retreat.
Moroccan Caravan, Mar 4–17, 2018. A camel riding/writing adventure into the Sahara.