Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oasis


Some things we take for granted.  Sometimes we have everything we need and focus instead on what we want.  It is human nature to stare out at the future when idle and secure.  That did not happen to us once today.  This is an Egypt that I did not know existed.  Dahab provides enough to keep you firmly in the moment.  From its sun splashed beaches to its amazing Egyptian hospitality, you can never want for anything more.  For someone like me, that needs to constantly be doing something, it seemed unnatural to just lay around for hours, staring out at Saudi Arabia on the horizon, but I did just that. 

The morning broke and after filling ourselves with breakfast delights and lounging around on the beach for hours, we called for transport.  Our anonymous driver pulled up in front of our hotel, the passenger window squeaked down, "Kreesteen?"  It was Hazim, a driver from the other evening.

Hazim begins driving us to the main stretch of Dahab.  One thing that is a little unpleasant, yet probably a strong positive about Egypt, is armed checkpoints are everywhere.  This is understandable in the largest Arab Muslim country in the world, with most of the world's known terrorists coming from a Muslim background.  When you really meet average Muslims and your exposure is not limited to a bunch of unpronounceable names following an atrocity, you realize that no group probably has a harder time overcoming stereotypes, and they are fairly normal people.  Muslims in general are probably no more racist than Italians and not near as crazy as Christian fundamentalists.   Anyways, the checkpoints were the only evidence that we noted of an unseen insurgency lurking in the shadows, reciting vows of purpose.  

When we arrived in the city, we walked into a restaurant called Penguin, named such probably because it was so chill.  We took the stairs up to the roof, and found a table to sit around.  The seating was a ton of pillows surrounding a low table.  Something about this place just made us want to take it down several gears.  We ended up eating a plate of fresh hot pita type bread with assorted dips, kebabs, and green coconut curry.  Our new wild cat friends prowled the grounds begging for scraps (and sometimes just taking them).  We were given a spray bottle of water to fend off our little feline friends, but we were hesitant to use it at first.  Word probably spread, as at one point, we peeked under our table and found about 5 cats biding their time before our inevitable slip up. We gave these cats tomatoes and green peppers, and they loved them.  Our server came over and told us a story about a German man a few weeks ago, who gave a cat a banana pancake, pet him, and then tossed him over his shoulder into the red sea.  

We ended up just lounging on this rooftop deck with panoramic views of Saudi Arabia and Jordan for a couple hours.  We took in some sun, brushed up on our Arabic, took lots of pictures, and ate some banana pancakes.

 We walked down the main strip, beating off touts, and eventually came upon a small store with buckets of herbs out front and hundreds of bottles lining the walls.  We entered.  Our new host, Ishmael, poured us Bedouin tea which is really great tasting, and we began to discuss our various ailments.  All of the bottles lining the walls were fragrances, though not the typical variety we usually encounter in the west.  These bottles were filled with essences, no alcohol, so the smell really lasts and is better for the skin.  He explained that to obtain the essence of lavender, you must take the flowers, bury them, let them rest in the earth for 90 days, and then they make the essence. We were given a mixture of musk and amber to rub on our hands rapidly and smell with two deep sniffs to calm us.  A mixture of mint and eucalyptus was mixed in a piping hot glass, and when inhaled, completely cleared out our sinuses.  We rubbed Bedouin oils on our tired legs, and aloe vera on Kristin's sunburn.  We bought a variety of essences and some serious tea.  We really hope this stuff does not get seized when traveling back.

We walked further down the beach, passing hippies playing the guitar and a football match on the street.  We met a friend name Mohammad, who is going to have a real Bedouin head scarf made for me tomorrow.  We ate at the Funny Mummy in a room full of people eating and drinking on the floor with the walls covered in rugs.  A cat stealthed up and stole Kristin's chicken.  We laughed and returned to the Penguin to smoke some shisha next to a coal fire, and cap off our night with an assortment of fresh fruit drinks.  

 Out our front door

 Hotel grounds

 Did I mention that this place was very cheap?

 About the price of a Super 8 in Texas if you now how to look

 Walk to breakfast

 Passed some flowers

 This water is very abundant in reef life, and I tried to get in.  I got a really bad cold in Italy, and realized almost immediately that I needed to turn back.

 The Mountains are really like nothing I have ever seen before, just pure rock

 We hung out on the beach for a few hours after breakfast

 Different color of gold sand here

 Kristin peeking in our pod

 Up the beach

 I just kind of sat in here for a few hours, so uncharacteristic 

 Beautiful water

 lots of pools

 Bright desert sun

 Our lunch view

 Eating Lunch at Penguin Restaurant

Lots of places to chill and eat up and down the coast

BC - Before cats

Stella is the ubiquitous cheap local beer in Dahab
The cats catch wind of our starter

Fresh Pita bread with a bunch of dips (hummus, babbagonoush, etc)

2 of them in this picture, creeping onto the scene

What up cat, hiding under the table

Camo cat, blending in with my pants and the shadows

Biding his time, preparing to make off with an onion or two

Green Chicken Coconut Curry

Shish Taawook

We were given these to fend off the cats,  but this one had built up an immunity to it, even cozying up next to the water spray at one point in an act of utmost defiance

Photo Op

Relaxing after lunch

Banana Pancakes for dessert

The water off the coast is very clear and abundant with marine life.  We were going to dive, but a head cold has kept me out of the water for the most part.

Saudi Arabia across the gulf of Aqaba

Egyptian Sun 

Catnap

Palms

Cat fight

No camels or horses on the street here

A view across the small crescent shaped bay, where in the 80s, hippie expats set up an idyllic base alongside a Bedouin village 

The Dahab market

An assortment of teas

Essences

Ishmael giving Kristin and I Bedouin tea

clearing the nose for a different smell

Mixing it up, I believe our buddy is making a restful concoction here

View from the store out to sea

Dog fight

Nearing sunset, we took a walk north

The harbor from the other side

Kristin trying to stay on this strange blue inflatable pier

A game of football in the street

A Dahab home on the beach, beachfront property is definitely cheap here

Lots of room for improvement 

Inventive use of broken bottles to keep intruders out, but why would anyone want in?

Dusk approaching

Walking back to eat dinner

Love the color in this picture 

Shisha bowls

Some dried leaves 

Ishmael asked to photgraph him next to his store

Manning the shop

Getting masked up

Stray dog

Some fresh lobsters

?

A couple of rowdy chefs

A fire with dinner

Eating at Funny Mummy

Some kind of chicken stir fry 

Chicken Fajita 

Very cool dining atmosphere

The Facade of Funny Mummy 

Puff up nerd

4 comments:

  1. Happy birthday!!! Luv u and miss u!! I see u smokin the hookie...:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Guys! Awesome pics, again!

    Kristin...I hope you have the most memorable birthday to date! Something tells me that there will be many more adventurous birthdays to come with Justin by your side. I'm so jealous!! Love You! Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  3. Happy Birthday special girl!! This will be a day to remember; but there will be many more to come in years ahead with Justin by your side! Much Love, Barbo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Vietnam and Cambodia Tours to discover gems of two of South-East Asia’s most beautiful countries, offer travellers the world over the chance to discover their rich histories, beautiful landscapes and delicious cuisine. Emerging from long years of conflict, colonial rule and communism, these two Asian dragons are exciting new additions to our growing list of exotic international destinations. Check our best vietnam tours reviews
    **
    Angkor Wat tour packages are incredibly popular, largely because of the Angkor temples and the many other ancient temples for which the country is famous for. Unfortunately, with so many things to see and with a large numbers of attractions, many independent travelers miss out on seeing the very best sights. All our Angkor Wat packages are based on a decades of experience, and every trip offered can be customized to meet your exact needs. In addition, make sure to check latest Vietnam holiday deals . du lịch Iran . iran tours. travel to vietnam

    ReplyDelete