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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Egypt's Baja

Sinai is Africa’s Baja. It’s warm, windy and packed with sun worshiping, water seeking, activity enthusiasts. The beaches along the Red Sea are stunningly outlined by the jagged Dahab Mountains, with miles of arid desert stretching uninterrupted to the Gulf of Suez. Halfway between Israel and Sharm El Sheik, Sinai’s southernmost point, is the small resort town of Dahab; in keeping with my Mexico theme, it is the Cabo of Sinai. Packed with seaside restaurants, trinket stalls, boardwalk artists and more dive shops than you can shake a fin at, Dahab is the perfect destination for some R’s: rest, recreation and relaxation. Unfortunately we have a lot of cleaning, sorting and packing to do and since none of these fit into our R theme, we decided to ignore them, for a while.

The Red Sea is renowned as one of the world’s best dive spots. The coral reef forms a near continuous shelf just a few flipper strokes off the beach, not to mention the narrow canyons, deep blue holes and caves that all need exploring. The underwater world is psychedelic forest of brilliant corals and crazy critters. It is magic. And I am not alone with these thoughts, Sinai attracts hoards of visitors each year. So it was surprising to be one of the only tourists here. Most places are more beautiful without people, but once in a while you come across a place that needs people…Dahab is one of those places. The beaches look sad without sandy bottomed babies running around sporting only a pair of water wings. The boardwalks need sun-burnt families. The pools look sad without swimmers.

We were beginning to wonder if the solitude was a product of the revolution. The owner of the hotel where we’re camping told us that season begins the 9th of April, but by the looks of things on the 6th we weren’t so sure that there would be a season this year. Boy, were ever wrong. It was like being in a port town when a cruise liner docks. Shops filled, restaurants were packed and the discotheques washed the salt rhyme off of their doors and thumped well into the wee hours. What a contrast. Gone are the days of snorkeling along enthralled by underwater world, now you need chameleon like skills to keep one eye on the fish and the other on traffic at the surface. I nearly had a head on with another snorkeler. Holy smokes. Maybe it didn’t look so lonely before.

With the poolside lounge chairs all covered in striped towels, dive trips sold out and the good bicycles all rented, it is a good time to start packing. Besides, you can only take so many man bikini sightings in one day. I’ve had my quota.

See you all soon!

My love,

For more photos of Sinai click here.

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