April 2009


As the setting sun painted the sky and the Arabian Sea and the dunes of Dahab with hues of pink and orange, I gave my filly full rein and leaned forward to whisper words of encouragement in her ear, the wind whipping my hair behind as it did her mane and tail. Our minds and bodies perfectly attuned, she galloped joyfully ahead, joyfully leaving the others to breathe the sand in her wake…

Okay so a lot of the above paragraph is just so much wishful thinking on my part. The part about the dusk and sunset is real – the hues every bit as spectacular as I have described, only more so. Unfortunately due to a combination of my idiocy and the camera’s (but that’s another story) I need to wait for pictures from my friends to bear proof of this, but I’ll simply say, that for an instant there the Red Sea actually was…

But my riding experience? For one thing, any distance between me and my companions was always because I trailed them – usually by a lot. And as for the mind-body-as-extension-of-horse bit!!! Sheer nonsense! Any time the poor horse galloped, she had to put with me bouncing like a sack of potatoes (yikes that brings back a long buried memory referring to me – very meanly -as a “polythene bag with potatoes”)  on her back, keeping my seat out of luck rather than any skill. Too many things to keep in mind. Feet only barely in stirrups, knees pressing into the horse’s flank, move sort of straight up and down in rhythm with the horse’s motion etc etc. This being my first time, I tried to do all that but by the end of hour I was sore in the butt and thighs and it was all I could do to hang on to the saddle and mane and try not to be unseated. It was fun but oh- so tiring. Long unused muscles, some in fact, that had never  been used, were called into action.

The reward for perseverance – a luxurious whole body massage, which reduced the soreness even if it didn’t dispel the stiffness entirely. But to my credit and the massage’s, I did manage to swim and snorkel the next day as well, even venturing to catch some of the sights by the blue hole.

So backing up, while the sunset was a nice opener, the highlight of my Dahab trip was without doubt, my initiation into the delights of snorkeling. For the life of me, I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it properly before this. But Dahab was a great place to get started. The colors of the anemone along the living reef — purples yellows blues and coral were stunning, as were the bright blue mussels clinging to the rocks. Down on the bed of the water, I saw what I can only describe as a large yellow cabbage. And the fish were  wonderful. Glimpsed more than one lion fish, a puffer, bright yellow and striped specimens also swam by, and then the entire schools of tiny silver critters that in Finding Nemo gave said Nemo’s Dad underwater directions. No turtles or bigger critters unfortunately, but can’t have everything.

Must put in a word for the lovely B&B that we stayed in, the Dahab Coachhouse, run by the warm and welcoming Danish couple, Mikkas and Nina who fed us lovely orange-peel enhanced pancakes every morning for breakfast, while their beautiful overgrown pupply Zoey would whine for attention. The Indian restaurant, Nirvana, by the beach is also worth a mention. Aloo parathas, lassi and samosas by the beach are always a treat. And for such a small establishment, what I liked best was that each of their dishes was individually prepared. No generic sauces. Another favorite was the Italian restaurant on the beach, Three Fishes, an enterprise of the charming Paola, which served among other things yummy home-made pastas and the best hot sauce (chillies and olive oil and garlic) on the Sinai coast, at least to my mind.Oddly enough, now that I think of it, despite being by the sea, fish figured hardly at all in my meals there. Odd but heck no complaints. I made up for that in Aberdeen as you shall soon see…

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One of those days when Horus has been truly horrible. Either that or I just got up on the wrong side of the bed. Woke up and got ready just fine. The taxi was even on time. All was well until…well first the damn cab decides to take the long route to the airport. Via the new AUC campus no less! Okay that should have been a clue that this is not my day….So the fare which is usually (as in last week???) 35-ish (with tip and parking it was still not quite 40 LE) cost me 60-something, took longer to get here, the driver drove like a maniac and then has the temerity to ask for more of a tip than I was giving. Lines are crowded and hordes of women sail past me (sails and rigging and all — oops excuse me that’s not showing adequate respect is it? especially since I’m referring to their hijabs) while I’m waiting in line and then the security guy acts like I”m not there, letting at least 1/2 a dozen others pass me (need I mention that they were white and had at least one male in each party). Then a damn woman who had jumped the line in the first place wanted me to “wait” while she searched for her ticket passport etc and put them into a bin at the security check, for some reason unwilling to let my bag get on there…. and the litany of complaints goes on. Oh yes and there was that comatose Japanese girl just ahead of me in the line for checking in and she’d squat every time the inching forward line would stop delaying the line still further

Anyway am finally in the airport and NOT in enough time to grab a tea or croissant at the lounge upstairs despite leaving home 3 hours before the flight was due to leave. So here I am hungry sleepy and therefore cranky. Welcome in Egypt they say… right now I can’t wait to get outa here! But am looking forward to reaching the other end. Amsterdam please be nice… after this morning I am in bad need of TLC.

Will write about Dahab (in a word delightful) later – now need to board the plane …