Thursday, October 9, 2014

Round trip to Sinai

Egypt's equivalent to Paradise: Dahab!
I can't say last week's trip to Sinai was my first one but it was definitely my most uneasy one. I personally believe that the terrorist group IS will stay away from Egypt as long as possible but it's not like Sinai has been a peaceful region in the last few years anyways. Just in time for our departure last week we received the news of yet another beheaded Brit and the Islamic State's announcement that they are targeting foreign tourists didn't make the desire to be on a minibus to Dahab any bigger. Nevertheless, we were going to Dahab in Southern Sinai. I can think of worse things to risk your life for.

Sinai only has three streets leading through it so there are checkpoints to make sure who is using them. Considering the unstable history of the region you could see why the Egyptian military was waiting every few kilometers to check who was on our bus. We got to pass quite quickly most times because our driver lied about who was on the bus. Egyptians don't get checked. We got away with pretending we were. Just before Sharm Eh Sheikh however the soldier inspecting us caught the lie. As a result, we had to wait for 30 minutes as the day before a bus with tourists was supposedly kidnapped. I think if that story was true we would know. We expected it was merely a punishment for lying.

Once in Dahab though, nothing matters. It is the most relaxing and serene place, maybe because it's flooded with stoners. Even though I don't smoke their intoxication must have been contagious because I was totally zen right away, just getting a glass of strawberry juice, listening to the waves and absence of honking cars. It is also quite refreshing to breathe air that doesn't give you cancer, like in Cairo. Day one saw me getting a minor sunburn but the inexpensive and amazing fish supper I had that night made up for it. So did the shallow water at the lagoon. And the snorkeling. And the sun coming up behind the other shore that is Saudi Arabia. Most of all, it was the absence of people staring at me, despite me wearing hot pants. It's crazy how liberating wearing a spaghetti top can be when you can't wear one anymore. 

On our way back we hit the same amount of checkpoints, having no further delays due to lying. Instead, we got delayed because I got car sick and threw up everywhere. It could have been dinner or the fact that the bus driver was trying to make Danica Patrick look like an amateur on a road not destined for that to happen. The journey equaled more of a roller coaster ride than a jeep safari in the desert. Unfortunately for my seating neighbor the second load of sick came very unexpected somewhere near Suez, going at approximately 200 miles an hour. Needless to say, an already very uncomfortable 8 hour minibus ride got just a little bit less exciting after that.

Much like Dahab, Cairo is also affected by people being afraid of terrorists. First, it was various "revolutions", now it's beheading extremists that make people spend the extra buck to go to Thailand instead. It's a shame really because especially the Sinai region has a lot of beauty to offer. The hotel I'm staying at, however, has not booked many foreigners in the past year. The only people still around are daredevils before they find out it's not really that dangerous around here. The danger is not a terrorist. This trip has clearly shown that the likelihood to die due to reckless driving is much higher than to be beheaded. And that can happen anywhere...

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