Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I was a fuul for not trying it sooner!

I wisely scheduled a good 4 lazy days here in Dahab. Every night I watch the sun set from my porch at 5PM. I can hear the cool music playing at the Penguin restaurant and the Funny Mummy (bar/restaurant) below. It's right on the main walkway, and yesterday I saw 2 camels walk by! Actually, they sauntered. They sauntered by. I tried to take a picture but it was too late. I love the music they play in the places near my hotel. The funny mummy plays such cool funky arab-indian flavored electronica that I asked them if they would put out a CD. They will, eventually. The other day I heard "fine day" by Kirsty Hawkshaw playing in a restaurant. What a good song that I completely forgot about.

Monday night I was walking down the street, tripped and sliced my toe open. Luckily, I was also walking by a pharmacy so I just walked in and within 10 seconds, I was in the back of the pharmacy with a woman was cleaning up my gushing blood and wrapping my foot up. She sold me bandages, tape, antibiotic cream and hydrogen peroxide all for less than $20.

Yes, that is a beer in the picture as well. It hurt!!

I was really worried about not being able to snorkel or dive again, but I went yesterday and it was completely fine! Yes, I know my feet are looking worse by the day. But there's really nothing I can do about it right now.

Like any sensible person, after the accident I consoled myself with a new purse. But we are in Dahab, so it's a $10 hippie purse. I love it!

The dilemma every morning is to find a place for breakfast without too many flies. What is it about Africa and flies? In the morning they are everywhere. You have to eat food with one hand, constantly swatting flies with the other. The one place that has great coffee also overcooks the eggs, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. I tried a new place yesterday, that had more than 5 people eating there, which is always a good sign. They play loud, LOUD ominous chanting music in the morning. I noticed that a lot of places do. The same spooky music. But only in the morning before about 10-30, 11AM - what a mystery! This place also burns so much incense that I feel like I am back at Michigan State University, circa 1989, poking around the skateboard shop that also sells hemp clothing, wind chimes, "free mandela" bumper stickers and bongs, before I go back to my dorm to change into my doc martens for dinner in the cafeteria. THAT level of incense smoke. There is a time and a place for incense and chanting, and I never thought it would be 8AM for breakfast. But no matter! The breakfast at this place was awesome. And I tried Fuul for the first time. A national dish of Egypt, stewed beans. It was delicious! The waiter told me that "80-85% of all Egyptians eat fuul every day". I told him that I had a 90% chance of having them again tomorrow. (I love percentages) It turns out the incense is to keep away the flies. It sort of did. You can see the fuul below:

After hearing more ominous chanting in the internet cafe, I asked the guy what the music was. It is the Koran, being sung/spoken. Many places play it in the morning to give them luck in business and to set the tone for the day. This is separate from the call to prayer, which you also hear several times a day, but on loudspeakers. Mystery solved! It does sound pretty cool. I get it now. I also want to clear something up for anyone who is wondering (I wondered before I came). There is no law in Egypt or Jordan that says anyone has to wear a veil or long robe (except in a mosque, maybe). Women do not have to dress that way, they choose to or want to - depending on their family, job, faith, and maybe what the people around them do. You see women in modern dress and in traditional dress. Both men and women cover their heads in many different ways but there is absolutely no law that dictates anything. Most places prefer that you don't show knees or shoulders, but in a beach/resort town anything goes.

I also love the supermarket. I like dates and guava juice from the market. If I had a kitchen, I would go nuts and buy all kinds of mystery items. For example, what is this? pudding?

Yesterday I went snorkeling at the dive site. I am getting much more comfortable in the ocean, and went far off shore. There is the most amazing reef with a cliff that drops off and all kinds of beautiful fish. My favorite is a big greenish fish with a horn on its head. It's called the unicorn fish! I have dive #2 with Abraham in a few hours. I think he thinks I'm kind of a chicken but I'm making progress. I'm going to try to do it without clinging on to him and whining this time.

I've met a few tourists here, from the dive shop and hotel. Lots of Canadians here. I had a beer with some of them last night. Everyone is pretty friendly. This isn't a sceney place at all - everyone looks slightly grungy and is just here to dive. Now that it's finally OK to wear shorts and tank tops - I still feel kind of weird about it. I still cover up a little more than I would in, say, Mexico, when it's not blazing hot and I'm not in the water.

At night, there are no flies, but there are cats everywhere! This is a common sight while you are eating:

The shopkeepers and people are a little more nosy and outgoing than in Jordan. Sometimes the salespeople and guys at the restaurants on the walkway are a little exasperating. But it's the shoulder season and they are just trying to drum up business. It's like Greece, but some of the people here just make me laugh. Last night I was walking and a guy called out to me and said "hello! you are looking for me?!" we both laughed. They are harmless. I have yet to hear a rude or heckling comment (in English) I'm going to go out on a limb here and make a blanket observation. In Jordan, there is a sweetness to the people and in Egypt, more of a playfulness and showmanship. I don't know how else to describe it. They are both charming in their own way. But I haven't been to Cairo yet. We'll see what I say then.

There is a town across the gulf of Aqaba in Saudi Arabia that I see twinkling across the water every night. I would love to see what goes on in that town. Husam #2, Sam, used to work in a fancy hotel in Saudi Arabia. He hated it. Also there are no tourists there. I don't think I could go or would even want to. But the little twinkling town captures my imagination. It looks so close! What is it like?

I've gotten more hits on this site in the past week than I have in 5 years, combined - just a crazy amount. Who is reading? Drop me a note!


Elizabeth said...

I'm reading!!!

I'm so proud of you for getting so bold in the water! You're braver than me!

I was actually snokeling in the Red Sea the very second I decided I was never doing it ever again! The parrot fish chomping on coral freaked me out! Other things too...but we can talk about that when you get back!

But you might have inspired me to give it another try. Maybe.

Are you eating lots of hard boiled eggs and tomatoes and drinking a ton of karkadey (I have no idea how to spell that)?? That's what I remember about Egypt.

I can't wait to hear more!

Kate C. said...

I'm reading!

Can you name one of your dinner cat friends Tom??

Congrats on the diving! I am so so proud of you!

I think the only thing wrong with the post is that you have to add "dirty" when describing the hippie bag :-) Ha!

Top Chef All Stars starts tonight. I will keep you updated!

sara said...

I'm in Sharm El Sheikh right now (to get back to Cairo sooner) and I hate it. Idiot resort people everywhere. I want to go back to Dahab!! And there is no snorkeling today because of a shark attack. boo! Tomorrow Cairo

Trisha said...

I'm still reading! But I just realized I have a week to catch up on!

Ankur said...

Dear Sara
a wonderful read btw if you have any videos to share you could do that on