Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dahab and Sharm el Sheikh

I chose my hostel in Dahab because it is known to be solo-traveler friendly, and I wasn't disappointed.  Over the course of the first night's trip to Sinai, I made immediate friendships with two Egyptian guys my age vacationing from Alexandria, a girl traveling from Amsterdam, and a girl from Arizona who had just finished a teaching contract in Cairo.

The five of us spent the rest of our time there together, eating and swimming and snorkeling.

Which way?
On the second day, the guys wanted to go to Sharm el Sheikh so we went on a road trip (another stroke of luck for me!).  I was so excited to go there.  It was also really fun driving through the Egyptian desert.
We waved to Mubarak in Salam Hospital, and snorkeled along the coral reefs.

I had only snorkeled once before this, in Key West, Florida.  The Red Sea is supposed to have some of the most amazing snorkeling and diving on the planet.  It was so cool to follow along the shelf of the reef, the schools of fish would swim so close you could touch them, and one large red fish, maybe a snapper, stared me down for several seconds before venturing closer to check me out by "biting" my finger!  I took a roll of underwater photos there, but have yet to go old school style and get them developed :)  I can't wait to see how they turn out!

The night before, the guys were telling us what they wanted to do in Sharm-- EAT.  They were so excited to drive down there and eat all this fabulously delicious food.  When it came time to go to dinner, we started walking, checking out all the seafood restaurants...  and then the guys stopped and I learned what this amazing food was they spoke of-- Pizza Hut!  Apparently it is all the rage in the Middle East.

So, we girls went to one of the other restaurants while they ate pizza and joined us later.  This was one of the most fun nights I've had.  

We would order shrimp, or fish, and the waiter would bring out a bunch of different sizes of the dead animal for us to choose from. We were laughing hysterically (and taking pictures), even though we knew the restaurant staff probably thought we were insane!

Also what must also be mentioned about Egypt are the CATS!  I have never seen so many cats in my life.  I guess because cats are revered in Egypt?  It is pretty unnerving... you may not see any for a moment, but when dinner arrives in front of you there are cats in your lap and on the table... along with salt and ketchup, tables are traditionally equipped with spray bottles of water to fend off the cats.

I personally found this a struggle-- between my allergies/not wanting to touch the cats/finding them disgusting all up in my food, versus feeling bad about spraying them (which usually didn't even work!), or alternatively, shoving them off the table.  And of course, the occasional adorable little mewing kitten that was impossible not to feed....
Cat for dinner?

Back in Dahab the next day, the girls were getting SCUBA certified and the guys and I went to snorkel the infamous Blue Hole.  This site has actually claimed the lives of many scuba divers, but snorkeling doesn't pose the same dangers.  The reefs and fish there were absolutely incredible. 
I am fascinated by the fact that coral is a living animal. At one point while I was surfaced, fiddling with my mask, my thigh barely brushed some coral. I felt nothing and forgot about it, but later that day I had a rash. I found out that some coral, in self-defense, will spray you with poison if you get too close!
Divers' Memorial at the Blue Hole, Dahab

Of course I also loved how inexpensive everything is in Egypt- on my last night we rode horseback on the Red Sea for an hour for about $5!

The next morning it was time to head towards Jordan for the start of my second program, taking a bus to Nuweiba then a ferry across the Sea.  I wasn't ready to leave.


Jordan said...

Ahhh! Attack of the cats! I must tell you, I sat here cracking up as I read, picturing my allergy-burdened sister attempting to fend off a clowder of cats to eat a scrap of fish. :) Thank you for that visual! By the way, that last picture of you in the hammock looks like complete heaven. No wonder you were in no rush to leave!

cookingvarieties said...

hi carly, such wonderful places and a great trip for you.
i am amazed that you are able to enjoy your travels all alone... must be very brave indeed. have a wonderful journey wherever you go.

OneBigMistake, andSome said...

Hey Carlie. I just got back from Istanbul and guess what cats everywhere! It reminded me of your post. This one cat was napping on the bazaar market, another was jumping from table to table during dinner, and I spotted one trying to walk into the Blue Mosque, but he or she got chased away :)

Anupam karn said...

Nice Blog Carlie! i got some unique and in-depth info here...
keep blogging :)

Patricia Needham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia Needham said...

I nominated you for a Liebster blog award. I would love if you had time to check it out and join in the fun.

Aaron Grey said...

awesome getaway! love the sea.

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Tom Watson said...

Looks interesting, ill be sure to check it out. Cheap property in Sharm-el-Sheikh