Sep 1, 2004
|We took an overnight bus to Dahab, which is a smallish city on the south eastern side of the Sinai peninsula. Not long ago it used to be only a few beduin tents. Then it was a hippy hang out. Nowadays pot is more or less the past and it is on its way to be a small version of Sharm, a city nearby which is as Egyptian as Cancun is Mexican. But it is not yet. You still hear the muezzin 5 times a day and there are more locals sitting idle at the restaurants than tourists.
The overnight bus ride to Dahab was hands down the most uncomfortable item of transportation that we have done so far. It left right around midnight and at that point the only strike against was that the seats were close enough to be small for Michelle. Guess how did I fit! It went downhill soon- first they turned all the cabin lights on, soon followed by a movie and its never ending follow ups. We knew that there is a huge movie industry in Egypt, but eventually got the reason. On Egyptian buses there cannot be a second of quiet and hence they always have to play one of the local hits. The movies invariably have a few elements, like music cranked up all the way (...habibi....habibi...), girls dressed provocatively who are trying to push themselves on scared boys (quite the contrary the reality is that you can hardly see girls on the street and they are wrapped up head to toe) and at least one wedding. With singing, of course. So now we thought that they are doing everything to prevent us from sleeping. Not quite. First a guy came to check the tickets. He holds his hand out but he pulls it away when we are giving him the tickets. He repeats this joke 20 times. After midnight it was not funny even at the 3rd repeat... Soon he returns offering food and drinks. No thank you. But sleep would be good. He returns again, wakes Michelle up who miraculously dosed off. Really, no drinks. Neither at your over inflated price, nor for free that we already have at hand. He comes back again, opening the tables on the seats and putting a bunch of stuff on it. He returns and is upset that we did not touch it.... Even if we were hungry the smell of the toilet close to us would take care of it.
We get to Dahab at around 9 in the morning, get picked up by the local Experience Egypt guy (they had a separate man for every task so far) who takes us to a very nice hotel, then shows us to the scuba center (Orca Dive Club, we were very happy with them) where we got our books and the homework.
We spent the next 5 days with the SCUBA course, with answering the "let me ask you only one question, where are you from?" (for all you Americans, it might sound like treason, but instead of Michelle I am the one who answers this with Hungary) Followed by "come into my shop". Eating 10 cents falafel sandwiches at a hole in the wall place where no other tourist ever stepped in....
The first dives were little exercises close to shore where the sandy bottom took a dive to the deep blue, but soon we were off into that. Turned out that the reef from where the windsurfers were launching fell to 60 feet and we were looking up there to see the windsurfers swimming above us, the overhang of the corals, the million fish. Later we ventured to the other direction, following the slope down across the field of short algae that was dotted with lion fish to a large column of coral reaching from the bottom, but staying under at least 25 feet of water as a miniature garden of Eden. And more shore reefs and more fish.
BTW Dahab is a great place for windsurfing. The strong (windsurfers: 4-5.5) Northerly wind only stopped for about 6 hours in 5 days, bringing much needed coolness into the hot desert.
Side note (Charlie)
Since we've been to Dahab and Sharm both were hit by terrorist bombings. These acts are at best misguided, very, very stupid things. While I understand (or at least try to understand) the frustration that many in that neck of the world feel, but these are actions that do not help their cause, but hurt others, who are in very similar situation than the perpetrators are, as most victims were locals. I'd also like to add that I find it twice as insane that Dahab was bombed than Sharm. At least Sharm is dominated by multinational investment and a clientele that perhaps would like it lot more if the city would not be in Egypt (ie there would be no locals around), while Dahab is mostly local interest and the visitors embrace that the muezzin can be heard 5 times a day. To blame strangers, I guess, is somewhat human, but to hurt your own is a disgrace.