Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kate on the Loose, Part 5: Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab

 My good friend, Kate, is on a solo trip in Egypt. On March 23, she wrote:
On Wed.  Flew from Aswan to Abu Simbel to see the magnificent temple of Ramses and his Queen Nefretari. These two temples were moved when the High Dam was built in the 70s.  They would have been flooded by the manmade Lake Nassar.  I went to the temples late in the afternoon so I could stay and see the Sound and Light Show.  Very impressive.  At the end of touring Ramses temple everyone else had gone and I was the only one in the temple.  A guy visiting with me while I had a soda said two years ago there would be 7000 visitors a day, now 500.  This is so hard for the Egyptians - come to Egypt it is so beautiful!!

My lodging in Abu Simbel was Escaleh built in the Nubian style, mud bricks plastered over; the ceilings were domed and the floors were rough stones.  Of course there was a patio with reclining couches overlooking Lake Nassar.  The food again was very good - especially a dish called tagen - chicken in an herbed sauce baked in an earthen pot.  The produce was grown in their garden and the chickens were also free range.

On Thursday I flew 12 hours - 3 flights to get to Sharm el Sheikh.  Got in at 11 pm and had an arranged ride.  When I met with the man from Memphis Tours in Aswan he kindly arranged my flights, cab pickups, and hotel in Sharm. After two nights in local Nubian guesthouses, the all-inclusive resort he booked for me was a shock.  All marble, crystal chandeliers, and western music.  My room had seating for 7, a shower for 2, and a bed for 5.  The suite was as big as my house.  Not my style.

So on to Dahab by local bus, as it's safer.  The guidebook said there was a bus at 10 am but no, only at 9 am and 3 pm.  So into a taxi I go -this scenario did cross my mind - she was last seen getting into a rickety cab with a guy in a white gown and a red and white checkered head scarf.  But the alternative of waiting in the bus station was worse than possible kidnapping.

We drive about 3 miles on the highway and then turn off on this little dirt road. I inquire Dahab?  He replies something that sounds like "no police", I settle back thinking oh, well.  Evidently we were taking a shortcut because we shortly got back on the highway.  We go another several miles and the rickety cab dies - I'm serious.  I've got to get in the front seat so he can lift up the back seat and tinker around, he does the same under the hood.  Meanwhile I'm waving off the hundreds of flies that have come into the cab to get out of the sun.  I'm fanning with my 15-year old raffia hat which has decided to molt, so I'm in flurry of raffia and flies. Meanwhile the car is not starting and a truck full of policemen stops - they talk for awhile and deciding I'm in good hands, drive off.  After about 20 minutes a van comes, I get in and the rest of the trip is uneventful.  Ah, the joys of independent travel!

Dahab is heavenly, laid back and right on the Red Sea.  I'm in the Bishbishi Hotel - $20 a night with an ensuite.  There is a covered outdoor area furnished with rugs and pillows to recline on.

I'm reclining there with a Stella, great Egyptian beer, and writing to you.  I had the best lunch, a falafel sandwich with a kiwi smoothie - $3.50.  I hope to eat there many times.


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