Leaving Sydney at night for a long flight was not the worst idea. Adding the third leg after Athens, straight through to Rhodes was worth it. I had a window seat. The next morning was clear, and from the moment I spotted the long Red Sea extending from that tiny triangle of Palestine and Israel, I knew the Mediterranean was near. Sea in the middle of the earth, spanning Africa, Asia and Europe. Why not. I was just 25 when I first came to this part of the world. Greece, Israel and Egypt. I knew roughly where Cheops the giant pyramid should be, beyond the built up area of Cairo – ah, how the desert around Giza has shrunk! There they are, like three metal studs, finely wrought, on the fine cheeks of Egypt.