We were driving south, along the Gulf of Suez, heading for our excavation site when our jeep broke down. Fortunately, it happened on a paved road, before we turned onto the desert track that would take us to a desolate site in the interior of the Sinai Peninsula, still 65 miles away. We had another bit of good luck—a Bedouin mechanic from a nearby village offered to help. A friendly fellow, he happily engaged us in conversation.
“I’ve heard about you,” he said.
“Yes. You’re the Israelis who are digging for gold in the hills near Jebela Musa.”
“No, no,” I said, but before I could go on, he interrupted.
“Yes, yes,” he smiled, “I know you’ve already found lots of it. The story has gotten around.”
We tried to explain but to no avail. Our transparently false “cover story” as to what we were “really” digging for simply convinced him of our unbelievability. How could we expect him to believe that we would take so much time and go to all this trouble and expense in order to find a few chips of flint, some broken pieces of pottery and a few courses of an ancient wall?
We drove off in our sturdily repaired jeep, leaving our Bedouin mechanic convinced that the rumors he had heard about our search for gold were true.