Dahab – the Byron Bay of Egypt. (Well, as of yet I’ve never actually been to BB but from what I’ve heard seems to be the case). A little town of 8000 people or so on the Sinai Peninsula alongside the Red Sea (second saltiest in the world after the Dead).
Two days of chilling, rather than crammed schedules. Options of snorkelling, diving, quad biking, water sporting, such stuff.
A 3.30am departure from Cairo with police escort until it got light (unsure if entirely necessary or completely necessary and don’t want to ask – sometimes it’s nice to be a bit oblivious). We arrived about 1pm, then it was straight to the sea for a bop around (very buoyant). The rocky ground meant Birks were necessary to be worn in (friend Ricky didn’t and his feet were sharded pretty apart).
I went for a lone long walk along to one end of the town; starting to massively gain in popularity, there were lots of partly-finished new resort complexes along the beachfront. It was nice to get away and move my legs – while I’ve been pretty proud of how I’ve been handling the sedentary life, when an opportunity is there to be active I’m absolutely in.
Aforementioned mate Ricky, his sister Kristy and I went for a wander to the other direction, into what – at the time – we thought was the heart of the town. Water for 5 pounds each (about 5 NZ cents), a visit to a natural store and lots of photos of all the cute and quirky doors along the walls. Dinner back at our resort (the best seafood salad I could have ever hoped for) then after yarns into the night, bed.
The following morning was snorkelling for me, scuba diving for Stace; while there was a brief moment I considered doing a dive, I felt a snorkel was much more me (although I’m incrementally getting over my fear of what’s in the water, it still lingers a little). About the half the group and I donned our booties and flippers and goggles and headed to the Blue Hole (on the tray of an old Toyota Ute – very fun hustling along the humps). (Just to clarify: although I pre said “donned our booties and flippers and goggles” I didn’t yet have them on while on the back of the vehicle – ‘‘twas holding them. Feel may have been a bit prem putting it all on and may have looked a bit of a dick doing so so early).
So Dahab is quite renowned for its diving; the Blue Hole, where I was to snorkel, is a coral reef that drops 120-200m pretty much as soon as you step off the shore. The most fatal diving spot in the world, an average of 30 people die there a year – usually as a result of getting too fun-hungry and wanting to conquer the arches and tunnels with limited o2.
As we walked along the cliff side to where we entered the sea, we passed a number of plaques embedded in the wall of people who had passed. From all countries and of all ages, it was pretty sombering (and I was glad I hadn’t opted to dive).
One of the first to get in, I wasn’t overly chuffed to see a little collection of jellyfish hanging out at the entrance; Roshi (guide) ensured they couldn’t hurt us. So I kicked off and went on my way.
Underwater really is another world. Sound as you know it seems to stop, and it takes on a mystical song of serenity.
At first I sort of stuck around a couple of the other girls as we moved along the coral reef. We had been told to watch ourselves with the current against the coral – while if we were thrown onto it it would hurt us, we would hurt it far more; coral takes a good century to form, so even a little breakage would necessitate a hundred years to heal. There was Dory and Nemo and a few fish eating a jellyfish.
Once I found my feet (well, flippers) I sort of swum off solo. Time sort of stops (well, gets away on you in a big way) and I floated along in a state of pure peace (until my scrunchie floated by and freaked me out – thought it was some kind of sea creature).
Suddenly I went beyond the reef and it was just an expanse of blue. Bright, bright blue, every direction I looked – down, side to side, all around. I couldn’t see a single soul, aside from a jellyfish floating slightly up to the side (remind me of mini breast implants); I couldn’t see the bottom. And rather than render me riled, I found I loved it. The sun from overhead cake streaming in and bounded off into shimmering God’s fingers deep beneath me, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I reached out with my fingers as if trying to reach it – then my snorkel filled with water and I had to break the surface and break the sensation.
A break for some h20 (drinking I mean), another round of snorkelling, then back in a jeep to the resort.
Once back and after a dip in the pool (hot mate – 41 degrees) (temp of outside, not the water) (though that too felt pretty close) I hustled my hiking boots and headed into the other direction, towards town.
Omg. Where Ricky, Kristy and I had wandered the night before and had thought was town was nowhere near; after forty minutes or so I stumbled into what was the true heart of Dahab. And my own heart swelled; my love for the place increased manifold. It was hippie heaven – little stores and shacks of crotchet and dream catchers and harem pants and key rings. Restaurants along the water front with colours poof cushions and swings and rainbow rocks. I lingered along the whole length of it all (lots and lots and lots of shops) then turned and headed back to change and get some chums.
Kristy was in to come with me, so her and I headed back in and had a lovely four hours roaming around. Trinkets were purchased, postcard were, um, posted and I was oh so happy. (Plus got a rug for my soon-to-be-ours puppy Sherpa).
Back to resort, dinner (seafood salad again of course) then bed for next morning 7am departure to Jordan via Israel.
Only two tit bits:
⁃ As with Arabic countries, the weekend in Dahab is Friday and Saturday
⁃ Quite interesting in Egypt; there’s no one look to the people. I don’t mean that in a generalised way – but you know how you can often tell when someone is Indian? German? Swiss? In Egypt, as it is such a central key between Africa to Europe and has a history of infiltration by Greeks and Romans, there is such a vast visual assemblage. You randomly come across striking green or blue eyes with darker skin, or light skin with very dark features. I’ve never seen such a nationality with an array of appearance.
Egypt – this time, really the end.