SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt. With the Eid el-Fitr holiday this week, the university is closed and many who can afford to, leave Cairo for their holiday homes. So I got outta town and came to the Sinai peninsula, where today I took my first dive in the Red Sea.
Two amazing dives, with great visibility, along coral reef walls, and out into the deep blue, where some big fish came to feast. I saw lots of colorful fish, moray eels, a sea turtle and plenty of coral. The area where we dived was in Ras Mohammed national park, a marine preserve that’s somewhat protected, though there were dozens of dive boats onsite.
Sharm el-Sheikh is a booming tourist town, in spite of the bombings that took place here last year. In the past several years, hotels by the dozens have sprung up in the desert, along the coast and inland roads. Most of the development is typical of new tourism development: there’s a Hard Rock Cafe and a Starbucks, and the bedouin-themed restaurants all appear to be cut out of the same stage set from a Hollywood version of the Middle East. The other night, I had sushi at a bar called Little Buddha, which has Russian waitresses and a giant gold statue of the namesake, seated in a lotus position, rising from the lower level with his head peaking above the balcony and bar. With all the ruckus over recent depictions of religious figures, I wondered how people in the far east might feel if they knew their icon was seated in the middle of the hottest pickup joint in Sharm. What if it were a religious figure from your faith? I won’t illustrate the images here, but you an imagine it would be quite a picture.
Later this week, I’ll go to Dahab, which is a little more laid back. And I may take a camel trip to a dive site, or I may climb Mt. Sinai and recreate a scene from “The Ten Commandments.”
And I’m studying my hand-made flash cards to learn my Arabic vocabulary.
Will write more when I get back to Cairo and my own computer.
Keep in touch.