Archive for October, 2010

Now I realize that the title of this blog is quite a paradox; however, it is truly how you would explain my vacation in Dahab. When I first came up with the idea of going to Dahab for the week break we had, I imagined laying on the beach and relaxing until the end of the week – forgetting about the stress back in Cairo. But of course, that is not how the week ended up at all.

Monday, we left around midnight on a bus headed towards Sharm el-Sheikh. (The bus directly to Dahab was sold out.) 9 hours later, we arrive at the Sharm bus station and are told that the next bus to Dahab is not for another two hours. However, we must have been lucky because we stumbled upon a bus after about 5 minutes that was headed to Dahab. After paying the driver 20LE each, we boarded the bus…the only problem with this situation is the lacking of seats, as in there are none available. You would not think that the bus driver would allow more people on the bus than it would sit, but then again T.I.E. (This is Egypt).

Once we arrive in Dahab, about an hour or two later, we set our stuff down in the lobby of our hostel. A tour guide approaches us since we had asked that we be able to talk to one upon arrival. We decide to take this safari trip that afternoon. So we had two hours to walk around, eat, clean up a little bit, and board the SUV which was taking us into the desert. Our first stop was a giant sand dune where a few of us went sand boarding (I had already done so and for that reason I passed on the opportunity). He only allowed a few to people to go before we had to retreat to the car and head to the White Canyons. There we repelled down into the canyon and hiked through it for over an hour.

Just as we reached the small oasis on the other side, it started to rain. You can imagine my delight since I have not seen rain in many months now. At the oasis we had lunch with a Bedouin family which was unbelievably delicious. (Btw, I do not believe I have ever eaten so much rice in my life as I do here.) After lunch, we drove off towards the Colored Canyons. Unfortunately it was pretty dark by this time and the colors were not as predominant as they should have been. I did my best to capture the rainbow rocks, but I believe my cameras failed me for the most part.

After a short hike through these canyons, we took a 3 hour drive to this small bedouin village where we had dinner and slept next to the Red Sea. Now I realize I just said slept…let me correct myself – I attempted to sleep. First outside, right next to the water, however that became too cold so I went into the little hut hoping to block some of the wind. Once in the hut, I still was unable to sleep because it sounded like a hurricane was going on outside of the hut with the wind howling. The sleepless night was worth it when I got to wake up to this:

After waking and having a simple breakfast, we lounged around waiting for our camels to arrive. After they arrived, four hours later than when they were supposed to, we did a little snorkeling. This is when I discovered I no longer enjoyed snorkeling as I prefer to be under the sea, exploring with the fish (i.e. Scuba diving). Snorkeling over with, we mounted our camels and headed on our journey back towards the hostel. We had an hour and half camel ride on this small path in between the Sinai Mountains and the Red Sea. It was just a beautiful sight…the mountains towering over us on one side, the waves crashing against the shore and Saudi Arabia across the sea on the other side.

We returned to the Hostel around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. We went to get food, clean up and took about an hour nap before we left to go somewhere else at 11pm. This time we were headed to Mt. Sinai. We climbed the mountain during the night so that we could watch the sun rise in the morning. During the climb, it was hot and muggy. But when you reach the top, it is freezing – being covered in sweat really does not help in this situation. We all find a spot to watch the sun begin its ascent and shiver a little more. To be perfectly honest, the sunrise was a little underwhelming. (Perhaps I tend to over think everything and imagine it as this glorious entity that takes place or exists. That could be why I am so disappointed when I reach such important monuments.) But it was absolutely stunning on this one point of the mountain:

By now, I have gone three days without sleep. You can imagine how easy it was to upset me or get on my bad side. It started with my camera which decided not to work anymore once we reached the top and I finished the roll of film that was in it already. Considering this is my prized possession and what I call “my baby” I was a little enraged at its failure to work properly. However, I got over it as we started walking back down the mountain. Except this time, we did not use the camel path that we climbed up on, but the 3,700 steps that are “quicker” to go down. Let me just say this about that endeavor: OW. My knees and quads and calves – everything hurt by the end of that climb down.

We returned to the hostel. That was the first night that we were actually able to sleep. And it was glorious. Well actually I slept from about 3 in the afternoon until 6pm where we all got up, took showers, and went out to eat and walk around town. We came across this little shop filled with vibrant paintings that exuded exactly how I felt this part of Egypt looked like. And at that time, the artist was actually in the store, painting another picture when we walked in. I bought two paintings – one for me and one for my brother as a gift, however, I must admit I am tempted to keep it for myself.

After our little outing, we went straight to bed since we were all still very tired. I woke up early the next morning so that Rochell and I could go on our Scuba trip. We went to the site called “The Lighthouse” but it failed in comparison to the sites I dived in Hurghada. I did however, see at least 7 Napoleon fish which is odd. Three were even swimming together which seemed even more strange. I suppose Dahab is a place where anything can happen.

Shortly after diving, we boarded a bus and headed back home…well, to our Egyptian home. So as you can see, my relaxing week on the beach was a lie. I never even made it to the beach in Dahab. However, I had amazing experiences that I would not trade for just laying on a beach.

Also this was my beautiful camel, Bullwinkle. He is a stud 🙂

So the past week or so has been pretty quiet. I have been working like crazy here – I swear that I have done more homework here than I have my entire college career. The person who told me this school was easy lied to my face…a big fat lie. I was informed about a week ago that this school is considered the Harvard of Egypt as it is the best college in the entire country.

I did not sign up for that.
School is getting in the way of my vacation. (Just kidding)

However, I did do something pretty amazing last weekend.I got my Open Water Diver certificate. YES!! I am now able to dive 18m deep in the ocean or sea or which ever I so choose. We travelled to Hurghada where we went diving in the Red Sea. I was able to PET a Moray Eel. I PET AN EEL!!!! How many people are able to say that?

I find that while I am here I am trying things that I never really would have while sitting at home. Petting an eel, playing tic tac toe at the bottom of the ocean and dancing with a clown fish were never things I thought I would be able to do. And yet I have done them and it felt as though it was no big deal…crazy.

The weekend that just passed was supposed to be a big adventure. We were going to travel to Nuweiba and climb Mt Sinai. Now, climbing a mountain is on my bucket list so I was ALL about this. However, there was a sand storm which caused the school to cancel our trip. I should not have been surprised, since this is after all Egypt and nothing happens when its supposed to, but I was shocked and pissed off to say the least. I had cleared my entire weekend to be off scaling mountains and tanning on the beach only to have that shattered and left with nothing (that is nothing in the terms of plans).